Thursday, May 14, 2009

Wednesday Market 5/13 and White Beans with Lacinato Kale

This week's market: strawberries from Rob at Whitted Bowers Farm, as always! Rob told me that the heavy rain this past week wiped out about a quarter of his melon crop -- 12 acres! Can you believe that? It's unreal, the amount of work that our farmers put out to bring us our food, and how it can all be washed away in a few days of heavy rain. Also, Chioggia beets (they're striped on the inside!) from Elysian Farm, and two baby heads of cabbage and three little heads of cauliflower from Eco Farm.

Onto last night's dinner, using the kale I purchased last Saturday. (I need to work on using my market items within a day or two of purchasing them -- the kale held up well, but it probably would have been especially delicious a few days ago right after being picked and sold.)

In addition to tasting great, Lacinato (or black or Tuscan or several other monikers) kale makes kale-lovers happy because it is so easy to clean. Unlike our friend the traditional curly kale, which has lots of tiny hooks and corners and places for dirt to hang on, Lacinato kale has a nice, long, flat leaf that makes it easy to wash off. Also simplifies the process of cutting out the stem!

Kale and white beans are often paired up in recipes (especially soup), and I had a cup or so of dried white beans stocked away in the pantry. I set them to soak yesterday morning in preparation for putting the two together for dinner. I found a recipe after searching online for just a few minutes. This recipe looked appealing mostly because I already had all the ingredients, but also because it requires cooking the white beans with a bunch of aromatics tied up in cheesecloth -- a cool idea that I've never tried. Even better, you cook the beans with several whole cloves of unpeeled garlic; then, when the kale is cooking, you add this cooked garlic to the saute pan. Hilary said, "it's like recycling!" So true.

Sauteed Tuscan Kale with Garlicky White Beans from Paula Wolfert

First, the beans:

1 cup dried white beans
4-5 cloves garlic, unpeeled

Aromatics tied in cheesecloth:
1 sprig thyme (I put in a sprinkle of dried thyme)
2 slices onion
1 carrot
1 small celery sprig
3 sprigs parsley (left this out)
1 bay leaf
12 peppercorns
1/2 tsp salt

Pick over the beans and discard any foreign matter. Soak in water to cover overnight. Drain; place in a deep pan or clay pot with the garlic, and cover with at least 3 inches of water. Bring to a boil, skim carefully, and add the bag of aromatics, pushing it into the beans. If you are sure the beans are fresh, add the salt now. Simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes, then add the salt and continue cooking until the beans are tender. (The time needed will vary, depending on the age of the beans. You can tell when they are almost done by removing one or two beans with a spoon and blowing gently on them--the skin will burst). Simmer another 2 to 3 minutes, then remove from the heat. Allow beans to cool in the cooking liquid. Discard aromatics but not the garlic.

Then, the kale and beans:

12 small to medium leaves Tuscan kale (I used the whole bunch)
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups cooked white beans
1/2 cup cooking liquor from the beans
3 cloves cooked garlic from the beans, peeled and halved
salt & pepper

Remove the center rib from each leaf and if the leaves are long, tear each into 4- or 5-inch lengths. Wash and pat dry. In a 10-inch straight-sided skillet heat the 2 tbs. olive oil, gradually add the leaves, and cook, stirring, until they wilt and sizzle in the hot oil, 2 minutes. Reduce the heat. Add the sliced garlic, cover, and cook the leaves until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the bean broth by the tablespoon, as needed, to keep the leaves from drying out.

Push the leaves to one side in the skillet; add the beans, salt, pepper, cooked garlic halves, and enough bean liquor to keep the dish juicy; cover, and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve warm with a drizzle of olive oil and freshly ground black pepper.

This definitely needed a hit of salt at the end to bring out the taste, and I wonder if some Parmesan would have really made it awesome. But a good recipe nonetheless, and as Hilary said, great in the "recycling" of ingredients (both the garlic and the bean liquor) from part one to part two.

Hilary and I had stopped by Trader Joe's after she got off work. Remembering that I now have a constant overflow of strawberries, I purchased a mango and a package of blackberries (not quite the season, I know, but they were a good price and smelled fragrant despite travelling all the way from Cali to get to us). We rocked a fruit salad after dinner.

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