Beans and Greens

IMG_20180711_200712584_LLTwo summers ago this recipe saved me. I was living in an apartment where I could plant a garden. The garden was in a corner of the yard that didn’t get great sun (installed by a previous tenant), but it was my first place where I truly had a garden of my own and I tried a little of everything. I planted some collards, and there must have been a big rainstorm after I did so because they didn’t sprout up in a neat row, but in random places all around the garden and outside the garden. The rest of the garden was not as successful, but they did phenomenally. I had collards coming out of my ears, and grew to truly love them and find all sorts of dishes to stick them in (my love letter to collards is here).

That season I found myself making Sarah’s beans and greens whenever I needed a quick dinner. The greens were outside my door, and I am never without a couple cans of beans in the pantry. Over the years my version has morphed into what you see below, though it does vary a bit each time based on what is in my pantry. I am an expert bread crumb burner, so I swapped them for some nice bread for dipping (and now you don’t have to turn the oven on).

In the Potter Hill CSA Paul has reliably including a bunch of fresh onions, and while I can easily use up the bottoms, the tops have been more of a challenge. They’re mild enough to blend in with all the greens without making them overpoweringly onion-y, so I just threw the whole lot in.

The rest of my share this week was two heads of lettuce, radishes, cucumbers, zucchini, chard, bok choy, and basil. I made a giant salad with Dijon vinagrette, grated turnips (leftover from last week) and radishes. and hard-boiled egg. It doesn’t include as many CSA ingredients, but I also made this chickpea salad using the parsley and fresh onion in place of the shallot. It was excellent on top of more lettuce salad (the joke this week was no one was allowed to leave the house without a salad). The zucchini and summer squash are headed for the grill this weekend.

Beans and greens

You can use just about any kind of hearty green here: various kinds of kale, collards, chard, beet greens, turnip greens, radish greens, spinach (or perpetual spinach if you are a CSA member!). This time around I used one large bunch of chard, a medium bunch of bok choy, and a small bunch of radish greens and they were 20 ounces before I stemmed them. If you are really adverse to anchovies you can of course leave them out, but I implore you to try them at least once. This dish does not turn out tasting fishy at all. If you don’t want the bite of raw garlic in the vinaigrette, saute it in the oil for a minute before you add the onion tops.

  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 anchovies, minced (or 2 teaspoons anchovy paste)
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice or red/white wine vinegar
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Green tops from 1 bunch of fresh onions or 1 whole bunch of scallions, sliced
  • 1 lbs of hearty greens, stemmed and chopped (see note)
  • 3 1/2 cups or 2 15-ounce cans of white beans, drained and rinsed (I used solider beans)
  • 1/2 grated parmesan cheese
  • hearty bread for serving

In a small bowl mix the chopped garlic, anchovies, 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice/vinegar, a few grinds of pepper and a punch of salt (not too much, as the anchovies will add some saltiness too). Stir to combine and taste, adding more acid, salt, and pepper as needed.

In a large pot heat the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add the onion tops and cook until soft, about 3 minutes (they should lose their structure and become uniformly dark green). Add in the greens and cover the pot. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until the greens are mostly wilted. Put the beans in the pot and stir to combine with the greens. Let cook uncovered for a couple more minutes to warm the beans through, then add in the olive oil mixture and stir to combine. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top, and serve with crusty bread.

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Last week I cooked…

Last week I cooked - Vegetal Matters I spent minimal time out in the world today, and still saw Oktoberfest beer and Halloween decorations for sale. COOL YOUR JETS¬†retail, it is still August, which means we aren’t done with tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, cucumbers, humidity, weddings, dining outside, or beach days yet.

Last week I cooked - Vegetal Matters

Eggplant Pasta. I admittedly set myself up for disaster with this one. I didn’t peel the eggplant so those pieces were more bitter, and I didn’t use a mandolin to slice it. The strips need to be incredibly thin for this dish to work with such a short cooking time. I cooked it for way longer than 10 seconds, but they still weren’t pasta texture. So know, this dish needs some skill and equipment to execute properly (and even then, I’m still skeptical of the short cooking time). I’m curious what this is like when executed properly, but next time I’ll just make Alton’s eggplant parm, which is one of my favorite foods.

Green Bean and Cherry Tomato Salad (pictured above). Paired with the eggplant noodles, and as much as the eggplant didn’t work, this dish did and it was entirely unplanned. I’ve been slowly reading through The Art of Simple Food to soak up its wisdom, and turned to the salad chapter for inspiration. I wouldn’t have put green beans and cherry tomatoes together, but as usual Alice was right. Easy red wine vinegar and shallot vinaigrette, and enough of a departure from my usual tomato salad. This one will forever be in my late summer rotation.

Last week I cooked - Vegetal Matters

Chard and feta quesadillas. A dinner disappointment is necessarily followed by a sure success. I cooked down a lot of chard (probably 8 large leaves, stems removed and chopped), and then cooled it a bit and squeezed out excess liquid. Flour tortillas filled with mild cheddar, feta, and the chard made for a fail-safe delicious meal paired with a tomato and cucumber salad.

Last week I cooked - Vegetal Matters

Skillet greens & beans with anchovy breadcrumbs. I would have eaten the entire pot of this if possible. This is a dish that is a flash to put together and everything I want in a meal. Filling beans, vegetal greens, and anchovy umami. I even burned the croutons for this (by bread wasn’t at crumb level) and it was still amazing. Last time I made it with dried beans that I cooked, which did hold their integrity much better, but I still liked that the canned beans I used this time broke down more to mix with the dressing. I used mature red Russian kale chopped, and cannellini beans, but will continue adapting it with what I have around for future versions. Even if you don’t think anchovies are your thing, give them a chance. They shine here.

This was a busy and earlier week at work, so my breakfasts were mostly fruit and granola eaten during morning meetings. But I made up for it this weekend with a perennial favorite (made with chard this go around), and then skillet potatoes with a goat cheese, zucchini, and cherry tomato omelette.

Besides a tiny batch of strawberry thyme honey jam, I haven’t done any canning this summer. But that all changed this week, because determined to make up for lost time I made tomato jam two nights in a row, followed by a double batch of dilly beans¬†(I used the recipe from the book, which uses white vinegar, cayenne pepper and no peppercorns, but I may add those in next time). Still on my list: ketchup, roasted corn salsa, peach salsa and lots of tomatoes.