When I was growing up, the only beans were ever ate were from a metal can. We canned them ourselves in a local coop and for the first few months, they were okay. Not fresh, but edible. As time passed, as one year approached, opening a can was an exercise in self-destruction. Eating them was impossible. I always sat at the corner of the dinner table with a carpet corner just to my left. By an act of God, or for self-deliverance, I was left handed.
Decades later, if you say “beans” to me, be prepared for a violent reaction. Sorry, time cannot erase some traumas.
However, Suzen keeps trying and I must say that she’s found a great, and yet simple way, to erase bean nightmares. True, when you open a can of white beans, it’s not an exciting event. But, in a short time, through the miracle of onion, carrot and certainly roasted garlic, those white beans can become an addictive puree.
The puree is wonderful as a simple side dish for roasted chicken. Or, if you can’t wait for the main dish, spreading this on toasted bread and sharing a crisp white wine is a fine appetizer.
You can top off the puree with a dash of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, perhaps some crushed red pepper, or a garnish of herbs. This quick dish will make you believe in magic. True, you do start with something canned at the start. But you work with it, add fresh ingredients, cook to amplify flavors and concoct joy.
White Bean Puree with Roasted Garlic
Yield: 3 ½ cups
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup carrot, finely chopped
- ½ cup chopped onion
- 1 whole garlic bulb, roasted
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- 3 15 ounce cans cannellini (white kidney beans), drained
- 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
Heat oil in heavy saucepan over medium heat, add carrots and onion then sauté until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.
Add cannellini and broth; bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cook until almost all liquid is absorbed, stirring often, about 20 minutes. Puree mixture in food processor with the roasted garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Return to saucepan to keep warm or place in microwavable bowl.
Source: Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine
Spring is deepening and in upstate New York we are already enjoying the bounty of the South. Fresh berries, real berries with natural sweetness and flavor, have arrived. If you ever question the value of modern transportation, take a look at your produce section of your supermarket. Imagine 80% of gone. The smile and grab some berries.
In the coming months, it will be summer cocktail time. And here, I’ll be writing about real cocktails. A long time ago, before corn syrup, cocktails were often fruit based and derived their flavor from nature, not from a stainless-steel processing plant. One of my favorite cocktail books, Hip Sips, emphasizes the fruit base for authentic, delicious cocktails.
A fruit puree is often the base for these drinks and a berry puree is the number one item to have on hand. Here is a lovely recipe to make your own berry puree, ready for use in the beverages to come.
Depending on the nature of your berries and of your personal taste, you may want to adjust the amount of sugar or lemon juice in the recipe. Even if you get “your version” down, the berries will change during the season, depending on heat, sun, and moisture, so be prepared to make some changes.
Yield: 1 ½ cups
1 cup fresh berries: blueberries, red currants, blackberries, raspberries, or hulled strawberries
5 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons superfine sugar, plus more if needed
¼ teaspoon fresh lemon juice, plus more if needed
Combine the fruit, water, 2 tablespoons sugar, and ¼ teaspoon of lemon juice in a blender and pulse until completely chopped. Puree until quite smooth. Taste the puree and add more sugar or lemon juice if needed. Strain through a sieve to remove the seeds. Use immediately, or freeze for up to 6 months.
Source: Hip Sips by Lucy Brennan