06 December 2006
are you cookin' beans?

Anyone remember David Letterman's obnoxiously saying this over and over? Well, it was funny, I swear.

Today, amici, the answer to the title question is--YES! I'm cookin' beans! And you can too!
And yes, I'll stop with the exclamation points.

Inspired by Shannon at Tales From the Fairy Blogmother, we're starting a little something called "What's Cooking Wednesday" around here. When I told P this, his eyes grew wide and he ran off a quick list of future featured dishes. He's an excellent cook with a passion for (mostly Calabrian) food, so you won't be disappointed. I'm only sorry I didn't take a picture of his "Linguine agli scampi" (linguini with prawns) the other night.


So, because he told me I can only do "paesana" recipes, today's is P's mom's Borlotti beans with tomatoes, garlic, and basil. Only a few ingredients, but do set aside a couple hours' cooking time.

For a primer on today's featured bean, check out Darla's entry, conveniently titled
The Borlotti Bean. As Darla writes, these are late summer/early autumn beans, but lucky for me, I have a suocera (mother-in-law)* that freezes in-season treats and then passes them to us just when we're craving them.

Steve Manfredi gives you more info on selecting good Borlottis and also offers up two other recipes.

Without further ado:

Borlotti beans with tomatoes, garlic & basil

(serves 4)

2 lbs. of Borlotti beans
6 medium cloves garlic (leave whole)
6 plum tomatoes, chopped roughly
1/4 cup basil leaves
4 tablespoons olive oil
peperoncino (hot pepper flakes will do)
salt to taste

Shell beans and place in cold water. Bring water to a boil, and leave beans there for about 5 minutes or until they are about half-cooked.

While the beans are in the water, peel the garlic, wash and chop the tomatoes, and wash the basil leaves. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan large enough to hold the beans (or, if you're going hard core paesano/a, a terra cotta pot), and add the garlic, tomatoes, and basil. Also put in some peperoncino if you're feeling spicy.

Remove the beans from the water with a slotted spoon (or otherwise drain so that you reserve the bean water) and place in the saucepan. Add a cup of the bean water or enough so that they are covered. Stir everything together. It should look something like this:

Set on low heat and stir every now and again, but not too roughly or you'll be a bean breaker.
If you see the mixture is getting too dry and the beans aren't done cooking yet, add more pasta water as needed. The beans should take about an hour and a half to two hours to cook through.

After about an hour, add the other 2 tablespoons of olive oil and salt to your taste. The sauce should be thick when done.
When you are ready to serve, drizzle some fresh olive oil directly on top.

You can also garnish with fresh sliced red onion--and of course this is to be enjoyed with fresh Italian bread.

Buon appetito!

*Note that it is common in Italy to begin calling your partner's family your in-laws as soon you're a couple. Of course, they also refer to an exclusive couple as "engaged" whether or not there's a wedding in sight. Are you sensing a whole entry dedicated to this system at some time? Points for you!

P.S. Forgive the poor quality photos. I'm operating without a digital camera right now, but I figured bad pics are better than none, right? Thanks for your patience.

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Anonymous louisa said...

I think I'll give that delish looking soup a whirl. Do they have these beans in the supermarket? (i only have canned ones)

I'm getting hungry and its only 15.05!


Blogger Michellanea said...

I like this. Very vegan friendly! Michelle

Blogger sognatrice said...

Louisa, I doubt the beans will be available fresh (at least in Italy) at this time of year, but you might find them dried. Then you'd need to soak them overnight first. To do this with canned, though, check out the recipe on the site I mentioned, and substitute my ingredients for his after he cooks the beans for 30-40 minutes. Seems like it should come out tasty this way too, but, well, Italian mammas are pretty durn particular about their methods, so I continue doing it the suocera's way.

Michelle, I'm responding to your other comment too, so I will say, in sum, yes, it sounds like you need to channel Calabria. And if you ever need to escape the smog, you know at least approximately where to find me!

Blogger Annika said...

You'll get into the "think like a blogger" way of life soon, I promise. It really is a way of life, I constantly think as if I'm writing (??); I make up fragments of posts all the time and think that "oh, I need to write this!" - and then I sit down and it's all gone. You're a writer, you must do this too.

Blogger Shan said...

That looks yummy, but it would never pass here. Michael has an extreme dislike of beans and that's probably putting it mildly. I'm sure it's very yummy though.

Blogger Delina said...

I did almost the exact same dish yesterday spookily enough! I used the dry beans which you soak for hours. Yummy

Blogger sognatrice said...

Annika, the blogger thinking is gradually coming along; I was sitting waiting for yet another Italian (ouch!) and started jotting down some ideas...little by little...

Shan, you know I used to *hate* beans until I came here. They eat so darn much of them (and yeah, they're healthy, blah blah), that I couldn't avoid them anymore. I'm happily finding that I actually like them! P still won't try chili though, as he thinks it's a "bomba" because of the meat *and* beans. He's right, of course, but it's so good!

Delina, why does your comment not surprise me at all? Btw, I need to get a certain code from you because we're finally ready for our deal. I'll send you a message ;)

Blogger Cherrye said...

Hey there! I tried to post to your blog the day you started it, but, I don't know, either I am cluess or Libero was having problems, but it didn't show up.

Nice dish. I love the idea. I will have to tune in on Wednesdays for sure to get in on this...Actually, Wednesday I leave to go to Texas for 6 weeks...need anything from the states?

I can't figure out how to make it actually post. On top of me being tech-illiterate, all of a sudden all of my computer pages are showing up in ITALIAN! HELP!

Blogger sognatrice said...

Cherrye, looks like you're just going to have to learn Italian pretty quickly! I'll think about my wishlist from the States, but my mom just sent me 4 packages (!) so I think I'm pretty well set for now. Thanks for stopping by!

Anonymous Marmite Breath said...

Italian bean dishes are the best! I love Pasta Ceci, Pasta Fagioli, Pasta Lenticche (would you consider lentils a bean or a legume? Whatever!).

In fact, I'm craving something like that right now--these cold nights make me want something hearty and bean-y like that.


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