I suscribe to the Bon Appétit Daily Recipe online newsletter and thoroughly enjoy it! It provides great recipes, feature articles and links that are both educational and fun! Earlier this week, there was an article on “Six Common Mistakes to Avoid with Dried Beans.” At the end of the article was a link to 25 great bean recipes. Yes, there are more than pintos and green beans out there.
I’m a big fan of cannellini (white kidney) beans and serve them frequently. I printed out several white bean recipes from the selection and will be sharing them with you if they are as good as they read.
Last night, I made what was billed as a side dish of White Beans with Broccoli Rabe and Lemons. The bold flavors of broccoli rabe and lemon and the smooth taste and texture of cannellini beans were a good match. Garlic and anchovy fillets contributed to a wonderful saucy broth that underscored the other flavors of the dish.
Don’t be afraid of of anchovies. When cooked in a liquid, they literally melt and add a savory subtleness to a complex dish. That savor is umami. The word is borrowed from the Japanese. Umami is considered one of five basic tastes we experience including sweet, sour, bitter and salty. Umami’s savory taste can be developed from preparations of seafood and meat products. I’ve yet to find a jar of umami on a grocer’s shelf, but I’ve learned to enjoy the taste sensation from cooking anchovies, adding Asian fish sauce to a recipe, and from poultry, beef and fish stocks and broths.
The umami in this recipe came from two anchovy fillets. The taste was neither fishy nor salty. It was a savory subtleness which complimented and “made” the recipe the as the ingredients’ flavors melded. I can only say it was a Umani Bomb for me that I’ll be making again very soon. I do still have some broccoli rabe in the fridge.
I served this dish as a side with pan roasted skinless, boneless chicken thighs accented with a dry rub. After tasting the beans and broccoli rabe I decided it was the feature and the chicken was the side for this meal. Don’t get me wrong, the chicken and beans were very good together, but the bean recipe was the Bomb!
White Beans with Broccoli Rabe and Lemon
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 small lemon, very thinly sliced and seeds removed
2 anchovy fillets packed in oil*
4 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
1/2 bunch broccoli rabe, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 15 oz. cans cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed
1/4 C fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp finely grated Parmesean, plus more for serving
Heat oil in a large dutch oven or heavy pot over medium heat. Add lemon slices, anchovies and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lemon is softened and brown in spots and anchovies fall apart, about five minutes. Add broccoli rabe, season with salt and pepper and cook, tossing occasionally, until bright green and crisp-tender.
Add beans and 1/2 cup water to pot. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until flavors have melded and liquid is reduced by half. You want it to still be saucy. Mix in parsley and the 2 Tbsp Parmesan. Transfer to a platter. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes, if desired, and top with more Parmesan.
* I prefer to buy anchovies in a resealable jar over in a tin. It is easier to store the jarred ones in the fridge and they last a long, long time. Just remember to set them out before cooking so the oil can warm up and become liquid again.