2.26.2013

creamy, easy tuscan white beans.

Just thinking about this recipe makes me crave it. What started out as a search for a hearty side dish ended up doubling as an easy and delicious appetizer that was irresistible by all parties in our household, including the little toddlet. Miss Mari loves her beans!
Though the possibilities are endless, we did two things with the Barefoot Contessa's Tuscan White Beans recipe; we ate it as a side dish with grilled chicken and the next day, enjoyed it atop crostini for a little snack that we paired with some good, dry white wine. The scene-stealer here is gently sautéed fennel that had my husband ask, "so what is this stuff?" because he liked it so much.

Along with the fennel, carrots, onions and lots of fresh herbs, this versatile dish helps us get our veggies and protein, and want to eat them, too. It's also make-ahead friendly, which seems to be a bit of a pre-req. for me.
I have visions of making a pillowy bed of Tuscan White Beans for salmon or simply offering it as a dip with good pita chips. Any which way, this aromatic dish is simple on the prep work with drained, canned white beans and store-bought chicken stock. I can't even imagine how good it would taste with dried beans and homemade chicken stock, but I'll share with you my method and if you want to see the BC's original recipe, pull out her How Easy Is That? cookbook, which you should own. Because it's so good!
Tuscan White Bean Crostini
Inspired by and slightly adapted from The Barefoot Contessa's How Easy Is That?, page 196

Serves a party of 8, give or take

One thin loaf of french bread, thinly sliced about 1/4" thick
1/4 cup good olive oil, plus extra for bread
4 cups chopped fennel, stalks, fronds and core removed (2 large)
2 cups chopped carrots (4 large carrots)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (2-3 cloves)
2 15-oz. cans of white beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage leaves
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves, plus extra for garnish
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus extra for bread
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place bread pieces on baking sheets, and lightly brush with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Heat for about 10 minutes (check after 5) or until bread is toasty and golden. Remove from oven and set aside to cool completely. Crostini, stored in an air-tight container, is good for a few days.

For the beans, heat olive oil in a large pan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the fennel and carrots and sauté for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until tender. Add the garlic for just a minute more, stirring constantly to avoid burning. Add the beans to the vegetables, then the chicken stock, sage, rosemary, salt and pepper and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 12-15 minutes, until creamy. Stir in the Pecorino and season to taste (but I bet you won't need to). The beans will keep for as many days as you can keep them around, sealed tightly in the refrigerator.

Serve beans warm or at room temperature atop crostini and garnish with a sprig of rosemary. Next time, I may add a tiny piece of prosciutto to the whole thing, much like this flatbread recipe. Oh, and a beverage suggestion, if not enjoying white wine: this, from Ashley Sullivan. Try it and report back, please!

2 comments:

ashley maureen said...

i love this! i'm thinking make a big pot and let it last through the week!

brenna said...

made it! supe yummy! both of the kids gobbled it up, especially my littler one. thanks for a super awesome easy dinner recipe! we just ate it as is, with tons of crusty bread.