Saturday, March 6, 2010

Not-So-Humble Beans

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Beans are such a beautiful thing. Especially when you cook them from scratch. Forget the canned stuff that’s packed with sodium and whatever else that’s in there to help make them last longer on the shelf. Yes, it requires time, which, in our day and age, is so precious and few are willing to relinquish it. But here’s why you should cook beans from scratch:
1. Dried beans are cheaper than the canned stuff.
2. Despite the extra time, they are super easy to make.
3. They taste so much better than the canned stuff.

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I’m not saying that you should give up the canned beans completely, because sometimes we do need life to be convenient during hectic times. But treat yourself to these home-cooked beans just once, and you’ll fall in love with them. They’re divine spooned over pan-seared fish or toasted sourdough bread, as an alternative to baked beans for Sunday brunch, or just on its own drizzled with a bit of good olive oil and balsamic vinegar and served with a side salad.

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Humble Home-Cooked Beans
From Jamie at Home
Serves 4

11 ounces dried cranberry or cannelloni beans, soaked in cold water for at least 12 hours
3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
A few sprigs of fresh rosemary
3 bay leaves
1 stick celery, trimmed
1 small potato, peeled and halved
2 cherry tomatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
Red wine, apple cider or balsamic vinegar, or lemon juice
A few sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Drain the soaked beans and rinse them in cold water. Place them in a deep heavy pot and cover them with cold water. Add the garlic, herb sprigs, bay leaves, celery stick, potato and tomatoes. Place the pot on the heat and slowly bring to the boil over medium heat. Cover with a lid and simmer very gently for 45 minutes to an hour. Skim off any foam if necessary, and top with boiling water from the kettle if you need to.

When the beans are cooked, drain them in a colander, reserving enough of the cooking water to cover them halfway up when put back in the pot. Remove the garlic herbs, celery, potato and tomatoes from the beans. Squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins and pinch the skin off the tomatoes. Put the garlic, tomatoes and potato onto a plate, mash them with a fork and stir back into the beans. Season well with salt and pepper, and pour in three generous glugs of extra virgin olive oil and a few splashes of vinegar (or lemon juice). Stir in the parsley and enjoy!


Mardi Michels March 6, 2010 at 5:17 p.m.  

These just look incredible. I should really make my own beans more often too!

Melody Fury // March 7, 2010 at 12:12 a.m.  

Drools :) I loved the simplest bean dishes in Italy. I really should make my own too.

Simplyfood March 7, 2010 at 4:33 a.m.  

these look delicious and healthy.

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