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.
FYI, 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
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.
*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.