Saturday, December 16, 2006

Beans, Revisited

I know beans aren't very Christmasy, but between TEFAP and WIC I suddenly found myself swimming in dried beans again. I'll get black beans, red beans, or split peas with the WIC warrants, but TEFAP gives white beans.

So I pulled out a bunch of white bean recipes and thought I'd share with you.

Remember that beans are technically in the protein food group. They store easy, cook easy, and fill you up. If you're just looking for well-balanced nutrition they are a very inexpensive way to get protein in your diet.

White beans go by many names, most often "Great Northern", but if they are white beans they should work. I use dried beans, and while I've never actually measured it, I use 1 cup of dried beans, soaked over night and cooked tender, to equal one 16oz can of beans. I'll leave the can measurements in these recipes.

White Bean Spread with Garlic and Rosemary

Okay, this could be Christmasy, or at least very nice to bring to a party! Serve with Melba toast, toasted Pita triangles, or toast points. It also spreads well on a tortilla or wrap. This recipe yields 1 cup.

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
1 (16 ounce) can white beans, undrained

Place olive oil, garlic and rosemary in a 10-inch skillet. Heat pan until ingredients start to sizzle. Add beans and their liquid to the pan. As beans cook, mash them with a wooden spoon or potato masher. Cook until mixture is a loose spread consistency (it will thicken as it cools). Transfer to a serving bowl or storage container.

White Bean and Ham Soup

There are lots of variations on this soup, but this one is nice. The author prefers ham shanks, but you could use hocks, a leftover ham bone, or just chopped ham. This kind of soup is better the next day. Oh, I'm not sure what Herbs de Provence are, except they are probably a regional thing and I can't find them up here. It doesn't seem to suffer for it.

I guess if you have ham for Christmas dinner, this is Christmasy too!

1 lb of white beans - Canellini or Great Northern
2 quarts of water
2-3 lbs of ham shanks (preferred to ham hocks because the shanks have more meat),
each shank cut into 2 or 3 sections
1 cup of diced onions
1 cup chopped celery
2/3 cup chopped carrots
2 cloves garlic, diced
Tabasco sauce
Salt and pepper
Herbes de Provence
Fresh parsley

Soak the beans in at least 2 quarts of cold water for about 2 hrs. Drain the water.

Put the ham shank pieces in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a simmer and simmer for about an hour. Add the chopped vegetables and beans. Cook for another hour, until the vegetables are soft and the ham meat easily pulls away from the bone.

Add several drops of Tabasco to taste. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add a pinch of herbes de Provence. Serve with a pinch of chopped fresh parsley.

Serves 8

White Bean Chicken Chili

4 16 oz cans white beans
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 4 oz can green chilies
2 cups chicken broth
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp oregano

Drain beans. Saute onions and garlic with butter. Add all ingredients in a large pot. Let simmer to get it all warm. Serves 5.

White Beans with Cheese and Basil

1 1/2 cans (14 - 19 ounces) cannellini or other white beans, drained, 1/3 cup liquid reserved
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1. Preheat oven to 425F.
2. Place the beans and reserved liquid in a large mixing bowl and partially mash the beans against the side of the bowl with a wooden spoon. Stir in the oil, salt, garlic powder, and pepper. Mix in the basil.
3. Place in a shallow 2- to 3-cup baking dish, and sprinkle with the cheese. Bake until bubbling, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve hot or warm.

White Bean and Tuna Salad

Okay, I haven't actually tried this one yet, but I get tuna from WIC too, so it's on my list.

5 oz. Great Northern or baby lima beans (3/4 c.)
kosher salt
2 tbsps. olive oil
1/2 c. thinly sliced celery, including leaves
1/3 c. very thinly sliced red onion
6 1/8-oz. can albacore tuna packed in olive oil
1 ripe small tomato, cored and diced
2 tbsps. finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsps. fresh lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper

Soak the beans and cook them. After 20 minutes, add about 1 tbsp. salt. Cook until the beans are tender but still firm, about 30 minutes. Drain the beans and transfer them to a large bowl. Add the olive oil and toss until the beans are coated. Add the celery, onion, tuna, tomato, parsley, and lemon juice.

Season to taste with salt and pepper, and toss to mix. Let the salad stand at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour before serving. The salad may be made up to 1 day ahead. Bring to room temperature 30 minutes before serving and check the seasoning.

Enjoy your beans! We will return next blog to the frantic holiday planning.

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