Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Cannellini al Gratin
I want to be able to rock leopard-print leggings when I'm in my 60s.
There. I said it.
You now know my deep dark secrets.
You see, on Monday, I mysteriously absented myself from class in order to go on a field trip to Whole Foods. I had absolutely nothing to eat in my apartment and it was imperative that I go. Right then. That second.
Plus, all of our lectures are taped and put online so that I can watch them. In bed. While snuggled up under five layers of blankets.
I learn better that way,
There are some crazy characters out during midday on 2nd Avenue. Let me tell you.
One of whom was yours truly. Who spotted a 60-ish year old woman walking down the street. Wearing leopard-print leggings. Without a care in the world.
And I thought. That woman is a rock star. I want to be her. Not now. But in 36 years.
You should know that I just about live in leggings. But not patterned ones. I'm not cool enough for patterned ones. Maybe in 36 years.
Until then, it's solid colors all the way.
I have this hot pink pair that I've told you about before and that my friend Andrew thinks are the most ridiculous things on this earth. I try to wear them sparingly. But some days call for hot pink and there's really nothing you can do about it. And that is that.
If you thought I was going to make some profound tie-in to this cannellini dish then you were wrong. Oh so very wrong. Other than that I was going to Whole Foods that day to purchase said cannellini beans (would you believe that not a single store on the Upper East Side had them? And that I had to meander all the way down to Whole Foods on 14th street? Sheesh). And so without them, I would have never realized who I want to be when I grow up.
In other words, this dish was serendipitous. In so many ways. And delicious. In so many ways. Comfort food that sticks to your soul and not to your thighs. So that you can totally rock those leopard-print leggings. At just about any age.
(I know some of you must have come here expecting something St. Patrick's Day themed but I am the most disorganized person on this earth these days who barely knows what day of the week it is. So here are some awesome recipes from last year! Irish Beef and Guinness Stew, Bailey's Irish Creme and Vanilla Tiramisu, and Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes (chocolate stout cupcakes filled with a whiskey-infused ganache and topped with a Bailey's buttercream frosting...yeah. Awesome.) Just, you know. Excuse the bad pictures.
Cannellini al Gratin
Serves 6, adapted from Vegetarian Times January 2011
1 1/2 lb dried cannellini beans
6 sprigs plus 1 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme, divided
3 sprigs plus 3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, divided
1/2 medium onion, unpeeled, plus 1 large onion, diced
2 bulbs fennel, stalks and fronds removed and reserved, bulbs quartered and diced
12 cloves garlic, 6 halved and 6 minced
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 cups diced carrots
1 tsp white wine vinegar
3/4 cup coarsely grated grana padano or parmesan cheese (I used parm)
1/4-1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1. Soak beans in a large bowl of cold water, overnight. Drain.
2. Put beans in a 6 qt Dutch oven or pot and add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Tie together the thyme and parsley sprigs and add them to the pot. Add the 1/2 onion, fennel stalks and fronds, and 6 halved cloves garlic. Add a tbsp salt. Partially cover and bring to a boil. Uncover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 35-40 minutes or until beans are just tender. Drain beans, reserving the cooking liquid. Discard herb bundle, fennel fronds and stalks, onion, and garlic cloves. If using Dutch oven, clean it and wipe it out.
3. Preheat oven to 400. Heat 1 tbsp oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add fennel and carrots and season with salt if desired. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add diced onion and cook, covered, for 6-8 minutes or until onion is soft and the bottom of pan is brown, stirring frequently. Add minced garlic for 1 minute. Remove pot from heat, stir in vinegar and use a spatula to scrape any browned bits from the bottom. Add the beans, chopped thyme, chopped parsley, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese and enough bean cooking liquid so that it reaches 1 1/2 inches below the top of the beans (for me this was 3/4 cup although VT recommends 1 1/2-2 cups). Stir well to combine.
4. Combine the breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese. Drizzle remaining 1 tbsp olive oil into crumbs and combine to moisten breadcrumbs. Sprinkle over the top of the Dutch oven. Bake, uncovered, 40-45 minutes or until top is browned and juices have bubbled down below surface, leaving brown rim around edge of crust. Cool at least 20-25 minutes to allow beans to absorb moisture. Serve warm.
I am submitting this to My Legume Love Affair which is being hosted at Ammalu's Kitchen.