Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Day 3: Tuscan White Beans with Crispy Sage and Garlic

beans!
Let's get things rolling with a most basic, rustic bean dish: Tuscan White Beans. It involves just a handful of basic ingredients--oil, garlic, sage, beans--combined for maximum flavor. This dish is an interpretation of a traditional Tuscan preparation, fagioli al fiasco which, given the Collapse Of Everything, seems really appropriate these days, no? (Fiasco is actually Italian for "flask" because the beans are slow-cooked in a giant flask of olive oil, but that isn't funny at all.) These beans, adapted from Sally Schneider's recipe in A New Way To Cook, are very low in fat and calories, criminally easy, and astonishingly tasty. You can use any white bean (Great Northern, navy, cannellini) you have on hand.


goya beans
Though this simple preparation is a ideal for flavorful, freshly-cooked beans, you can certainly use canned. The consensus among foodie authorities is that GOYA brand are the tastiest canned option. If you can't find them on the bean aisle at your supermarket, try looking with the Hispanic foods.

rinse yer beans
If you do use canned, be sure to give them a thorough rinse and drain before proceeding.

sliced garlic
First off: thinly slice several heads of garlic, six or even more if you love garlic.

fry the garlic
Add the garlic to your largest non-stick skillet, warmed over medium-low heat with two tablespoons of olive oil. Cover the pan and let the garlic cook for about five minutes, untouched.

toasted garlic
When the garlic is toasty and golden, transfer it to a small bowl with a slotted spoon, leaving the oil in the pan.

plucking leaves
Now you'll need a half-cup to cup of fresh sage leaves, either a handful of wee little leaves or large leaves sliced on the bias. Or a combination of both; just use whatever you have!

sage
The fresh sage is potentially the most expensive part of this dish, but is damn near free if you grow it yourself. Also, it looks exactly like lizard skin but tastes lovely and smells like Thanksgiving and how many foods can say that?

sage in olive oil
I love sage and, like so many things in life, it is only going to be more magical after we fry it. Add the sage leaves to the hot oil in one layer and let them sizzle away. Little bubbles will form around the edges and the sage will gradually darken. No need to turn them: just let them cook. After the leaves are crispy (about five to eight minutes)...

crispy sage
...transfer them to a paper towel to drain.

add chicken stock
Now you have one pan coated with hot, garlicky, sage-y oil. To this pan add about 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of chicken or vegetable sauce and bring to a low boil. If you like things on the saucy side, err towards more stock.

warm the beans through
Add your drained beans to the hot pan and warm through, stirring gently, for about three to five minutes. I like my beans piping hot, but not so hot that they turn to mush. Once warm, liberally salt and pepper the beans to your taste. I go a little aggressive on the seasoning to combat the unrelenting natural blandness of beans.

garnish with sage and garlic
Divide the beans into four servings and sprinkle each liberally with crispy sage and garlic.

tuscan beans with crispy sage and garlic
Serve with some nice crusty bread, and you've got dinner for four, or a nice side dish to a piece of grilled meat. (Enjoy that job while it lasts, lucky.) It is rustic and warm and filling, and the crispy sage really elevates the whole affair, completely eclipsing the reality of a meal that costs just a few dimes per serving. Fiasco? What fiasco?

(Print-ready recipe here.)

Tuscan Beans with Crispy Sage and Garlic
serves 4 as a main dish

3 cups cooked white beans (or 2 cans, drained and rinsed)
2 tablespoons good extra-virgin olive oil
6 large garlic cloves, sliced thin
30-ish small leaves of sage (or about 1/2 cup sliced sage)
¼ to ½ cup low-sodium chicken (or vegetable) broth
kosher salt and ground pepper

Warm the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet set on medium-low heat. Add garlic and cover the pan, cooking until garlic is golden, about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the garlic to a small bowl and set aside.

Increase heat to medium, add the sage leaves to the oil, and cook until the oil is fragrant and the sage becomes darker and crispy. With a slotted spoon, transfer the sage to a paper-towel-lined dish to drain.

Add the chicken broth to the pan, bring to a boil, and add beans, tossing gently until heated through. Add salt and pepper to taste. Divide beans into four bowls, topping each serving liberally with frizzled sage and garlic.

32 comments:

  1. I read a lot of food blogs and I've never commented on one. But this dish looks SO GOOD that I just had to say - Thanks!

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  2. That sounds utterly delish, and dead simple to make. Thanks for the beany goodness!

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  3. It looks like I'll be planting some sage this year...Thanks!

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  4. You know, a little chorizo, about a spoon full, minced and added to that garlic would go a treat... I'd try the portuguese or spanish shops for that as they usually sell the stuff dirt cheap!
    Emma-Lilly

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  5. Well, what do you know! That actually looks pretty yummy (says the woman who "doesn't like" beans...)

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  6. You had me at the oil-simmered garlic.

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  7. Sounds delightfully easy and garlicky-ey yummy...can't wait to try it!

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  8. That looks wonderful! I will have to plant some sage in the garden this year.

    Allison

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  9. I made this for dinner last night (even did my own beans from dried... for the first time ever!!). YUMMY!! I am not a huge bean person, but like you said, they are cheap, and so healthy.

    Is it bad that I kept the bulk of the garlic to top my own bowl, and skimped on the rest of the family's?

    Thanks for the recipe! umm!

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  10. Umm, this is really good! And you can add canned tuna to it, to make another classic Italian salad - go all the way and use Italian tuna in oil, or go the cheap route (my choice) and go with American tuna in water.

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  11. Melanie, it sounds dee-lish. I'm trying this for my brother's birthday party on Sunday. I'll let you know how it turns out!

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  12. we had this for dinner last night. it was a hit even with my husband who's very particular about his meatless dishes. my 5 year old LOVED it. thanks!

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  13. desperately awaiting more bean recipes!

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  14. damn, the garlic alone is so enticing!

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  15. We made it the other night and everyone loved it. My husband said he would have eaten it all by himself if we'd have let him.

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  16. i loved it! my husband... not so much. after all, it's just beans for dinner, he's a meat and potatoes kind of guy. BUT i took the leftovers and made SOUP! simmered some veggie broth, carrots, celery, orzo, threw in the fried garlic, sage and beans at the last minute. how's that for resourcefulness!

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  17. p.s. i'm so glad you're posting again i missed you soooo much!

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  18. will there ever be more bean recipes?

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  19. We love food, especially cheap food. We too have a lots of free and cheap recipe that user can make at home. Visit us at Cheap Recipe

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  20. That looks divine...I'm not sure I could keep from eating all the garlic before throwing it into the beans!

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  21. Keep posting. I love your site!!

    Kimberly

    www.smackingdarcy.com
    www.peapatchbloggin.blogspot.com

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  22. Just made this for a quick, late lunch (yay herb garden!). I didn't add salt or pepper, but used Trader Joe's 21 seasoning salute (salt-free seasoning) because I put that in darn near everything these days. So tasty and delicious, and so cheap, too.

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  24. Tried it and we loved it! Thanks!

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  25. this is the tastiest bean dish I have ever had - I made it last year and then book marked this page ... then couldn't find it for months and was going bonkers trying to find it. I found it ...yay!

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