There are certain meals in our home that we esteem beyond all others. We call these dishes our "death row" meals, the ones we would want to eat our last night on earth. Yes, it's a morbid classification. The system, however, has us continually attuned to some of life's essential experiences. This is one of my husband's selections. For me, this dish is a staple I make once or twice a week. I crave these beans. When I'm really hungry and desperate for sustenance, nothing else will do.
DEATH ROW BEANS
1 Tbsp light olive oilHeat the oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Peel the garlic clove and smash once under the base of the unopened can of beans. Add the garlic pieces to the oil. Once the garlic starts to sizzle, add the beans, tomatoes, herbs and water. Increase the heat to bring the beans to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and let simmer, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes. The beans should continue to bubble.
1 clove garlic
1 14 oz. can cannellini beans (aka white kidney or tuscan beans), drained and rinsed
6-10 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 Tbsp each fresh rosemary and thyme, chopped fine (or 1/2 tsp each dried)
1 cup water
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
handful flat-leaf Italian parsley, stems removed, roughly chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Once the liquid has reduced and thickened, turn off the heat and add the extra virgin olive oil and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Serve in large bowls with steamed greens, fresh crusty bread, or on their own.
NOTE: If the sauce doesn't thicken, mash some of the beans with the back of a spoon and stir the mash into the rest. This will do the trick. Also, if the beans lose too much water, don't be afraid to add more. They'll be fine.
VARIATION: If you have some bacon or pancetta in the fridge, cut a few slices into small bean-sized pieces and fry them with the oil and garlic until browned before adding the beans. The smoky flavour tastes unbelievably great with the beans.
This will be the first of many posts about beans. There is so much to say about the world's perfect food: debates to weigh in on, stories to share, information to impart. Stay tuned.
Photo: Death Row Beans with steamed kale.