Monday, February 4, 2013

White Beans with Tomatoes and Olives

As happens so many times on these pages, I wish I had a great story to go with this dish. Something about my plump Tuscan grandmother who taught me everything I know (she doesn’t exist), or how I dried my own tomatoes or cured my own olives or grew my own navy beans. Nope. Not gonna happen. To be painfully truthful, I can’t even remember how I got the idea to put these ingredients together in this fashion. This simple pan of white beans with sundried tomatoes and kalamata olives with plenty of garlic and olive oil will have to be its own story.

But doesn’t that tell you a lot? Creamy white beans enrobed in flavorful oil and enhanced with the tangy flavor of sundried tomatoes and the briny brightness of olives. I made it warm for the simple reason that it’s just too cold for salads. I made it with dried beans I cooked myself because I happened to have a lot of them waiting around for their chance to be useful (you could use canned beans). I made it with lots of parsley because that’s an easy herb to get nice and fresh in the dead of winter. I made it totally delicious quite by accident.

I highly recommend using very tender sundried tomatoes in this recipe. Those packed in oil and sold in jars will be quite soft, but I happened to find some that were delightfully pliable in a re-sealable package without any oil. I think either form will work. If your dry-packed tomatoes are too hard to chew easily, you may be able to soften them by soaking them in boiling water for 30 minutes or so.
As you can see, I really didn’t get any good photos of this dish. Unfortunately, if I’m going to share a recipe for something I made for supper, unless by some freak happenstance of time and energy I make something ahead of time, there’s just not going to be enough sunlight for a quality representative picture. This is pretty much true from November through February, so you might have to use your imagination on some of my dishes.

And using that good imagination of yours on this one could lead to any number of variations. When the days get warmer, I’d like to try this as a cold salad with the oil turned into a dressing by merging it with some vinegar. I’m also wondering if Roasted Cherry Tomatoes would be a good replacement for the sundried tomatoes. Perhaps the tale of these very simple beans can live on as a Choose Your Own Adventure story. Perhaps just being very simple and extremely delicious is enough.


White Beans with Sundried Tomatoes and Olives

I used unsalted beans in this recipe. If you are using canned beans you may want to use the lesser amount of salt. Taste after adding the olives to determine if more salt is needed.

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 cups white beans, drained (and rinsed if canned), about 2 16-ounce cans
¼- ½ teaspoon coarse salt, to taste
a few grinds of black pepper
¼ cup chopped soft sundried tomatoes
¼ cup chopped kalamata olives
½ cup finely chopped parsley

1. Pour the oil in a large skillet. Warm over low heat. Add the garlic and cook very gently, stirring frequently, until just beginning to brown.

2. Add the remaining ingredients and cook until the parsley is well wilted and the dish is warm throughout, about 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Makes about 4 main-dish servings.

Other recipes like this one: White Beans with Arugula and Sun-Dried Tomatoes (I had completely forgotten about this recipe, which is quite similar); White Beans with Sage and Garlic; White Bean Soup with Fresh Herbs

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