One slow night at the restaurant, I was fooling around with the extra white beans I had lying around. I had the rind of a good Parmesan cheese. I figured that if I simmered the beans in good extra-virgin olive oil with the Parm, this might taste like Italy. I let the beans braise overnight on the pilot light of the gas stove. That slow simmer yielded beans with a creamy tenderness and a little crunch on top. I have to tell you, in all honesty, that I’ve never been able to replicate those beans. Shauna, my wife, and I have made the braised white beans a dozen different ways while writing this book, and none of our methods have produced beans exactly like the ones I made that night. It must have been something about the moment, the hope of Shauna loving those beans, and me. This white beans recipe comes close, though.–Daniel Ahern
LC Ponderings on Parmesan Rind Note
Authors Shauna James Ahern and Daniel Ahern explain in their book, Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef, that you don’t have to use the Parmesan rind if you don’t happen to have one on hand. Although the next time you get to the end of your chunk of Parmesan, toss the rind in a resealable plastic bag and stash it in the freezer to save for making this batch of beans.
Braised White Beans Recipe
Hands-On Time: 10 minutes | Total Time: 12 hours | Feeds 4
- 1 cup dried cannellini beans
- 1 small nub Parmesan cheese rind (about the size of half a thumb)
- 3 cups olive oil (you want a mild to peppery oil, not a fruity one)
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 4 to 5 sprigs fresh thyme
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Soak the white beans
- 1. Making the braised white beans recipe takes a bit of planning. Start the day before by soaking the beans overnight in cold water to cover.
- Cook the white beans
- 2. Drain the beans and place them in a large saucepan along with the Parmesan rind. Cover the beans with the oil and set over medium-high heat. When the oil starts to bubble, turn the stove to its lowest possible setting. Allow the beans to simmer, with only the occasional bubble rising to the surface, until they are soft and tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
- 3. Take the saucepan off the heat and then toss the garlic, rosemary, and thyme into the pan along with salt and pepper and then stir everything together. Grab a spoonful, tip the spoon to let the oil drain off, and taste the beans. Season with more salt and pepper, if desired. Set aside to allow the beans and oil to cool completely and to allow the flavor and aroma of the herbs to mingle with and infuse the beans. This ought to take about an hour.
- 4. Drain the beans, reserving the oil. Any leftovers can be returned to the oil and refrigerated for up to several days.
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:
- Sautéed Spinach and Cannellini Beans with Balsamic Vinegar from Food and Spice
- Lemony White Beans with Grilled Onions from Herbivoracious
- Cassoulet of White Beans, Sausage and Duck from Leite's Culinaria
- Grilled Swordfish Puttanesca with Fennel and White Beans from Leite's Culinaria
Braised White Beans Recipe © 2010 Shauna James Ahern and Daniel Ahern. Photo © 2010 Lara Ferroni. All rights reserved.