Beans and greens deluxe

I thought I had the beans and greens dish down: Sauté lots of minced garlic and some red pepper flakes in oil, add greens, some water & salt, cook gently covered, then add beans from a can, warm up and douse with parmesan. Pretty Good.

THEN . . . . I finally dragged my Instant Pot out of its box on the floor of the dining room where it had been neglected for months. And I got Melissa Clark’s Instant Pot book out of the library, again. She has a recipe for Garlicky Beans with Broccoli Rabe. With book by a NY Times recipe provider and dispenser of kitchen advice, and with a bunch of farmers market broccoli rabe in my fridge, I set about it. Okay a preview: FABULOUS in all ways.

The traditional Italian way I believe is to sauté a mess o’ minced garlic in oil. That’s what I have long done. Melissa takes it to another dimension combining garlic-infused beans with garlic-infused oil that hasn’t had the chance to get at all bitter, solely deeply flavored. Brilliant!

Ingredients:

Cooked beans — gigante or cannelini, with their cooking liquid (1 # beans to 7 c water)
Garlic cloves — 4 smashed, and 3 sliced thin
Red or sweet onion, 1/2 large
Broccoli rabe, 1 bunch, large ends cut off, and washed
Olive oil
Crushed red pepper flakes, good pinch

Directions:

Cook beans in pressure cooker. Either keep warm, or make ahead and refrigerate. (Good idea to pop some in freezer too. Mixed in with their liquid for soups later, and some dry in a bag.)
Prepare broccoli rabe, onion and garlic.
Put a sauté pan on medium-low heat, add 4 T olive oil, sliced garlic and pinch of salt. Sauté about 3-4 minutes, stirring, until garlic is just golden. Transfer contents to a small bowl and set aside.
Put pan back on the stove (you may have to wipe the bottom so you don’t ignite any dribbled oil) over medium-high heat, and add 2 T oil. Add onion and cook until golden, about 5 minutes and then red pepper flakes. Turn heat up to high (!), add broccoli rabe and cook, tossing in oil, and add good pinch salt. Add good ladle-full of bean liquid and cook until liquid is absorbed/evaporates, about 8 minutes.
Serve: Beans in shallow bowl, drizzle with oil (and garlic!), dump broccoli rabe mixture on top.
You won’t miss the parmesan. So very deeply satisfying and delicious with good beans and heavily garlic-infused oil.

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The best beans I have ever cooked at home*

I love beans. I’m not a big meat eater overall and beans are a food item I am happy to see on my plate for dinner or lunch. I buy them in cans, generally the organic brands, and they’re convenient too. And still relatively inexpensive. I have long harbored the desire to cook beans successfully at home. I say “successfully” because I have cooked beans at home. They often end up overcooked AND under-cooked — hard, falling apart and separated from their skins. Not good if you want to eat a bean meal.

A few months ago I purchased an Instant Pot on sale and it has been sitting on the floor in my dining room unused. I have looked at the manual occasionally and took out books from the library on Instant Pot recipes. Today is Day Two of Louise’s Instant Pot use. With a 66% success rate.

I made a fine, easy batch of vegetable soup yesterday. Then feeling emboldened, I tossed a lot of ingredients into the pot with interesting spices, left the house for the afternoon with my slow cooker programmed, and ended up with . . . DREK! Brown rice with the consistency of wet bread, raw eggplant, and horribly overcooked dry chicken breasts. A disaster and waste of high quality ingredients. So apparently it’s not a perfect appliance.

Today I went back to pressure cooking with some top-quality coop-purchased Gigante beans recommended highly by the bulk food manager upon consultation for my re-launch into home-cooked beans. Man are they delicious!! Flavorful and mostly tender.

Here’s how:

Ingredients:

Dried gigante or cannellini beans, 1 lb, picked over and rinsed
Garlic cloves, 4 smashed and peeled
carrot, 1, peeled
Shallot, 1/2 (optional)
Bay leaf
Olive oil, 2 T

Directions:

Prepare carrot and other aromatics and do your best to tie together with kitchen twine. A spring of rosemary or thyme would not be remiss here.

Pick over beans and remove any shrunken or discolored or unhappy-looking beans. Rinse in colander.

Add all to pot with 7 c water. Cook at high pressure for 32 minutes or so. (I did 25 minutes, not done and then 9 more). Let pressure reduce naturally (I think that means: let sit undisturbed and off for 10 minutes.) Then release pressure, and take a look at your beautiful beans!! Aren’t you proud?! Delighted? I was! And still am. I froze some in a freezer bag. I scooped some into a freezer container with liquid — the liquid is delicious and I can use for soup. I have stored the freshly cooked beans in a now small bowl in the refrigerator and separately all that delicious cooking water. Best cooking water ever! I’m told to save for soup. Perhaps. Or perhaps use for cooking water for farro. More likely it will sit in the refrigerator for one week and then I will discard.
*And probably near the best I have ever eaten!

Photo of beans in Instant Pot, prior to cooking:

IMG_6266

Inspiration: Garlicky Beans with broccoli rabe recipe in Melissa Clark’s Dinner in an Instant

Greens and beans

This is a classic Italian dish, and I believe is “classic” because it is so very delicious. The ingredients are interchangeable as long as there is plenty o’ garlic, greens and those thar beans!

Here is a pleasant summer variation, close to standard:

Broccolini

new or older onion, sliced in half-moons or quarters

garlic cloves, rough minced

chicken or vegetable stock

parmesan cheese

cannelini beans

Directions:

Cut up onion and garlic. Sauté onion in olive oil until soft. Add garlic and crushed red pepper, and cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Rinse broccolini and add to sauté pan with S&P. Turn up heat and add stock. IMG_6042

Turn in stock, cover and cook on medium for about 5 minutes until just under crisp tender. Add beans to warm through about 3 minutes. IMG_6043

Serve with drizzle of lemon juice or vinegar, olive oil, and grated parmesan.

Garbanzo quinoa vinaigrette

This is an easy and healthy-ish salad perfect for summer gatherings. With no dairy it can go outdoors without danger. And it’s super-easy to assemble, and flexible too. It’s just a simple vinaigrette including both lemon juice and white wine vinegar, heightened with hot pepper — fresh or dried flakes — and mustard and honey to balance. It’s beans with red onion and some carrots and red peppers or whatever is fresh in early summer.

2 large cans of garbanzos (chick peas), drained and rinsed

red onion, 1/2, sliced then quartered, and macerated in white wine vinegar for 15 minutes to mellow

Vinaigrette: lemon juice (~ 2 T), garlic scapes or garlic, mustard, honey, red pepper flakes or fresh hot hot pepper, minced, S&P, olive oil.

Mix together:

Garbanzos

Onions

Red or other color peppers — not green, diced

carrots — #2-3, cut into dice about size of beans or smaller

minced parsley

cooked quinoa, cucumber, garlic scapes, cumin, and/or garlic, optional

Variation: substitute lime juice for lemon juice; substitute black beans for garbanzos, and add cilantro and scallions.  Use cumin.

 

Impromptu summer lunch salad

Hungry mid-day and don’t want to fuss much? Take what you have that is farm fresh and toss together a casual salad.  Here’s what went into today’s salad chez moi: chopped kale, chickpeas, artichoke hearts, raw summer squash, diced peppers.  If I had a red onion, I would have added that to the mix. But this is a no-stress lunch, so not to worry, I told myself.

I wasn’t in the mood for a sharp vinaigrette, so here’s what I did: I started with leftover extra mayonnaise/sour cream from potato salad. To that I added buttermilk and a bit of olive oil and salt.  Voila!

Canned items:  chickpeas, drained and rinsed, artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed, and soaked in olive oil (the oil I later added to creamy dressing, above)

Farmers market/CSA items:

yellow summer squash, sliced thin on mandoline

assorted sweet peppers, cut into large dice

Several leaves of lacinato kale, soaked, dried and chopped fine

YUM!

Summer lentil salad extravaganza

When you find yourself with lovely local lettuce in early summer, and perhaps some leftover grilled chicken, cook up some Puy lentils and assemble a main course salad, great for a crowd. Pomegranate molasses adds a new flavor element to sherry vinaigrette brightened with lemon zest and juice.

Ingredients:
Stewed puy lentils, chilled
Chicken or vegetable stock for cooking lentils
Sherry shallot vinaigrette with shallots macerated in apple cider vinegar, lemon zest & juice, walnut & olive oil, sugar and pomegranate molasses
Leftover chicken, sliced thick or hard boiled eggs or boiled chilled shrimp (omit cheese)
Canned artichoke hearts and bottled roasted peppers, drained and rinsed.
Toasted walnuts (1 c), broken up when cool.
Little turnips, carrots sliced on mandoline
fresh herbs, minced — parsley and chives, at a minimum

Directions:

Cook lentils: Sauté diced carrots, celery, shallot in large saucepan. Add 1 t cumin, crumbled, ground pepper, and less than 1 t dried thyme, crumbled. When done, stir in chopped garlic and cook for one minute.
Stir in 1-1/2 c puy lentils, picked over and rinsed. Turn up heat and add stock to more than cover. Bring to a simmer and cook at least partially covered 20-30 minutes until barely tender — don’t let get mushy. Drain and chill.
Toast 1 c. walnuts in 350 degree oven for 7-8 minutes until fragrant. Let cool, then break up a bit.
Heat olive oil in small sauce pan, add couple garlic cloves cut in half and cook for a couple minutes until slightly browned and aromatic. Remove from heat and let sit.
Drain and rinse artichoke hearts; put on towel and blot dry. Put in bowl and pour garlic oil over them, adding more oil as needed.
Make vinaigrette: minced shallot and apple cider vinegar to macerate 15+ minutes. Lemon zest, lemon juice, sherry vinegar, walnut oil, olive oil, dash sugar (or honey) and 1-2 t pomegranate molasses, S&P. Taste and adjust acid, salt and sweetness as needed. Using a lettuce leaf is a good method of tasting.
When lentils are cool (or brought to room temp if cooked in advance), toss liberally with vinaigrette. Salt as needed.
Mince fresh herbs such as parsley and chives. Mix into lentils with walnuts.
Wash and spin dry lettuce leaves.
Clean turnips and cut thinly on mandoline with carrots and parmesan, if using. Cover and refrigerate to wait for salad assembly.

Assembly:
Lay lettuce leaves around outside of platter. Drizzle with vinaigrette. Dump dressed lentils in center. Top with chicken, artichokes and peppers. Sprinkle on coarsely broken up turnips, etc.

Summer vegetable soup

When you tire of summer salads, try soup! Now that seems like an odd notion in mid-summer. But…. High-summer season vegetables are coming in now: zucchini, green beans, sweet, sweet carrots. So toss them all in a soup pot and after you make some vegetable stock, make some vegetable soup. Nutritious, delicious and naturally low-calorie/carb.

Ingredients:

1 onion (or 2 spring onions, with greens cut up and added later)

2 large carrots, diced medium

4 garlic cloves, minced medium

thyme – fresh or dried

1 zucchini – soaked, then cut into quarters and sliced

1 bay leaf

¼ to ½ # green beans, tipped and tailed, cut into 1-1/2 to 2” pieces OR bunch of swiss chard, stems removed, leaves torn and washed

1 15-oz can garbanzo beans, rinsed

optional: corn cut from 2-3 ears; leftover rice; parmesan cheese rind; scallions if no fresh onion greens

Directions:

  1. Put zucchini in sink or bowl to soak whole. (Removes any soil that settled into skin.) Dice onion, then carrots.
  2. Heat soup pot and add 2-3 T oil over medium-high heat. Cook onions with salt until soft. Add carrots, zucchini, thyme, S&P (hearty pinch of salt!), and cook until softened. Stir in garlic and bay leaf and cook for a minute until fragrant.
  3. Pour in vegetable stock – about 4-5 cups total (can include some water), and bring to rapid simmer. Throw in green beans and cook about 10+ minutes until just tender. Add rinsed beans, and corn and/or rice, if using.

 

If you have leftovers, refrigerate for up to one week.

Inspiration source