Monday, August 27, 2007

The beauty of cannellini beans

My home town's known for large consumption of two vegetables ... artichokes and beans. Well, when I started this and posted a couple of things we'd done for 4th of July, my wife berated me (rightly so) for not adding her own creation for that day. It's basically a bruschetta topping, if you like, made with beans, tuna and cherry tomatoes. It is, simply, delicious. So today I'm going to write up how to make that, and also how to use beans in a similar way as a side dish.

Take a skillet, well heated, pour olive oil to taste, and a bunch of cherry tomatoes, halved. Cook the cherry tomatoes for a short while, until they begin to wilt. At that point, add a can of tuna, packed in olive oil if possible. Salt, and heat the tuna through. I'd go until it starts to almost stick to the skillet. At this point, add 12/14oz or a jar of cooked cannellini beans, as small a variety as you can find - the Annalisa brand has a kind called Tondini, which are perfect, if you cook them yourself ask your purveyor for a small bean. Make sure they are pretty well drained, though a bit of the bean liquid won't go amiss. Cook until the beans are softened and heated through. Place in a serving dish, and provide abundant crusty bread, either toasted or fresh.

Beans are great poured in a dish where stuff is sticking, they deglaze the dish, pick up all sorts of goodness, and either blend with the content of the dish, or if you've removed the original content, serve as a great side dish. It is one way you can make salsiccie e fagioli; more on an original approach to this in a later post, but we also made a simpler version a couple of weeks ago, basically had some chicken sausage pan fried with a bit of oil, some herbs (thyme, rosemary or sage would all work here), removed the meat, added the beans, with liquid and some salt/pepper to taste, deglazed the pan and heated the beans fully, then threw the sausage back in for a couple of minutes. The whole thing takes no more than 15/20 minutes to make, and is just great if you like beans. I could see it work with any meat you would normally saute, easily. With sausages it was especially good as they are usually well seasoned, in any variety, which really will add to the flavor of the finished good.

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