Tuscan White Bean Ragout
Eaten on its own, or as a base for a larger item, such as Polenta with Butter and Cheese, Wild Rice Vegetable Pancakes, or Grilled Marinated Portobello Mushrooms, this hearty stew packs flavor and nutrition.
INGREDIENTS | SERVES 8
- 1 pound great Northern (large white) beans, cooked very soft (see “Bean There … Working with Dried Beans,”); retain cooking liquid (or one 28-ounce can of large white beans)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons chopped garlic (about 5 cloves)
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary, or one teaspoon dried rosemary leaves
- 1 dried New Mexico chili, or ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 head escarole (about 6 cups washed leaves), or an equal amount of spinach, torn into large pieces
- 6 ripe plum tomatoes, seeded and diced (about 1½ cups)
- 2 ounces unsalted butter
- ¼ cup roughly chopped Italian parsley
- ½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (optional)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- A few drops top quality extra-virgin olive oil (flavored, if desired — see “Flavored Oils,” at bottom)
Strain the cooking liquid from the beans and reserve (you should have about 2 cups of liquid — add water if necessary to reach this amount). Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat; add the garlic and cook until it turns white and fragrant, only about 30 seconds. Stir in the onions, rosemary, and chili. Cook gently until the onions are very soft, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the beans, and enough bean-cooking liquid to make the mixture brothy; simmer 5 minutes.
Stir in the escarole; simmer until it is all wilted. Add the tomatoes, butter, parsley, and cheese if using. Remove from the heat, and stir until the butter is melted in, adding additional bean liquid as necessary to keep it brothy. Season well with salt and pepper. Serve warm, drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil.
Note: This stew can be prepared through step 1, and refrigerated for up to 3 days. The flavors will mingle, and the dish will be even better.