Frequently I get a hankering for Beans and Greens. It is earthy peasant fare that meets my occasional need for a simpler life. I also like that it can be changed by simply using different beans or replacing kale with Swiss Chard or spinach. Kale is considered a “super food”, so when you eat it the world becomes a better place!
Spring is the time to be outside raking winter’s debris from the garden, basking in the sweet sunlight. Except that this year has been a little crazy with the asparagus ready to harvest alongside the new daffodils blooming. April and May daffodils actually showed up before the late February ones. The lilac bushes are already sporting purple buds at the end of March instead of their typical May show. However, last night we had a deep freeze and I had to gather armfuls of flowers and the asparagus to save them from being frozen. Here, take a look at who came in from the bitter frost tonight. Pretty pretty.
Ahhhhhhhhh…..breathe in deeply and remember Spring really is here and the cold will pass.
This dish definitely improves and is more filling with a crusty baguette. Early in my gluten-free life my husband and I were at a fabulous restaurant for dinner, me staring blankly at the menu, tears in my eyes knowing there was nothing for me to choose from. In frustration I asked my husband to see if he could find something for me to order while I retreated to the ladies room to cry (honestly I did. Most restaurants are completely unaware of how many of us can’t consume gluten). When I returned he had a big smile on his face and a big glass of red wine for me. What a guy! The chef directed him to their famous house specialty: Beans and Greens. Then he recommended the perfect wine to pair it with – Sangiovese. This was food for the gods, people! It was so incredibly delicious and earthy and filling I begged for the recipe – and they gave it to me – but I had to cut the recipe down from feeding 100 to feeding 10 – except for the fact that it feels so good to eat this healthy pile of yumminess that it doesn’t feed anywhere near 10 people.
What to do for this happiness:
Purchase a nice big brilliantly crisp dark green mass of kale. You can also make this from escarole or spinach. Have some garlic and cayenne pepper, and if you like a little rosemary or thyme. Parmesan cheese is to be doled out with generosity. Cannellini beans. They can be canned; they can be dried and prepared, doesn’t matter. You don’t like them? Okay, try it with northern beans or kidney beans or garbanzo’s. And you will need some chicken broth and a touch of Sherry vinegar. I make my broth from scratch. Remember to check the label of store-bought broth if you are gluten sensitive. Serve it with red wine, or white, it’s your preference. I think red wine is great, like a bottle of Sangiovese, in cool weather. A Chardonnay with a little oak barrel aging is also a good choice. This dish is sturdy and you don’t want the beauty of the wine to get lost under the garlic and earthiness of this dish.
Kale: 1 or 2 large bunches ( escarole or spinach)
garlic: 3 cloves, thin slivers
Rosemary or thyme, if you like (1/4 teaspoon)
Cayenne Pepper: 1/4 teaspoon or to taste
Cannellini Beans: 2 cans
Olive Oil: 3 Tablespoons
Chicken broth: 3 cups (may not need all 3 cups)
Sherry Vinegar: 2 or 3 teaspoons
Parmesan cheese: 1/2 cup
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
In large saute pan heat oil to smoking point and toss in garlic, cayenne pepper and herbs. Use a wooden spoon to stir until the garlic turns a nice golden color. Reduce heat to simmer and add the kale by handfuls until each bunch wilts, adding more until it’s all in the pan and wilting. You will have to use a spoon to keep pushing the new leaves under.… Add 1 or 2 cups of the broth and simmer over medium low heat, stirring for a minute. At this point you will add the drained beans. Toss them in the pan and stir. Cover with a lid and simmer about 20 minutes or so. You’re not really making a soup, but the broth helps to make it tender and you do want enough broth to soak up with a crusty bread. Then add Cannellini Beans and toss together. Serve topped with a generous amount of Parmesan. Add salt and pepper to taste.