Wednesday, 10 September 2014

White Bean Ragout

This is a simple dish from the Tuscany region of Italy. Feel free to substitute various ingredients depending on what's in your cupboards. We've given the vegetarian version of this dish; however, it's frequently made with bacon or pancetta (a bacon like cured meat that's popular in Italy). Just dice up your bacon, fry it until crisp and then use the rendered fat to saute your onions, carrot and celery mix. Fresh tomatoes if you have them are great. In winter months, substitute canned tomatoes. 

Buon Appetito!!!


Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of white (navy beans or white kidney) beans, soaked overnight (or use 2 cans white beans, drained and rinsed.
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (plus some more for toast) 
  • 1-1/2 cups finely diced onions
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely grated or minced 
  • 4 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, divided 
  • 3 cups vegetable broth 
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered 
  • 1 tsp dried oregano or 1 Tablespoon fresh oregano (substitute -- thyme, Italian seasoning) 
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped parsley (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
 Toasts:
  • 5 ciabatta buns, slice in half length wise. Alternatively, use hamburger buns, day old French bread. 
  • olive oil for brushing
Directions: 
  1. Boil soaked white beans in fresh water for 30 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside. Alternatively, use canned beans, drain and rinse them well -- set aside.
  2. Using medium high heat in a heavy skillet, heat olive oil until it shimmers. Add onions, celery and carrots and saute for 5-10 minutes until onion is soft and other vegetables are starting to cook. 
  3. Add garlic and allow to simmer for an additional 2-3 minutes. 
  4. Add reserved cooked beans , tomato paste and 2 cups of the vegetable broth. Bring contents of the pan to a boil, reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes at a simmer or until vegetables are fork tender. 
  5. Stir in 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese and cherry tomatoes and oregano. Turn heat off and add additional vegetable broth if it is really thick. There should be a bit of "runny" to the stew so it can soak into the bread base later. 
  6. Preheat oven to 375 or turn on broiler. Alternatively, you can grill the bread on barbeque or in a dry fry pan. Whatever method works best for you, toast the bread and remove to a serving plate. 
  7. Brush olive oil on each toast and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese while the bread is still warm from the oven. 
  8. To serve, put toast in the bottom of a bowl and spoon the bean stew on top, letting the stew juices soften the toast. Top with additional Parmesan if desired. 
  9. Leftover bean stew will keep in the refrigerator for 3 days; freezes for up to 3 months.

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