Friday, December 1, 2006

Grilled Bread with Beans and Bitter Greens

Copyright 2007: Sizzle with America's Top Chefs
Recipe attributed to Joanne Weir

3/4 cup dried white, cannelloni, or navy beans, about 5 ounces
1 bay leaf
Large pinch of dried thyme
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
4 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small bunch of Swiss chard, escarole, or beet or turnip greens
1/2 small yellow onion, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
6 to 8 large slices rustic country-style bread
2 cloves garlic, peeled

Pick over the beans and discard any stones. Cover with water and soak 8 hours or overnight. The next day, drain the beans and place them in a saucepan with the bay leaf, thyme, and enough water to cover by 2 inches. Over high heat, bring to a boil, and immediately reduce the heat to low. Simmer until the skins crack and the beans are tender, 45 to 60 minutes. Drain the beans, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the beans, sage, half of the minced garlic, and the reserved cooking liquid. Cook, mashing occasionally, until the moisture evaporates and the mixture forms a paste, 5 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Wash the greens well and spin dry. Remove the stems and cut leaves into 1-inch pieces. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a frying pan over low heat and cook the onion until soft, 7 minutes. Add the greens and remaining garlic, and cook until wilted, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and vinegar.

Grill bread slices on an indoor or outdoor grill until toasted. Rub each side of toast with the 2 peeled garlic cloves. Spread beans on toasted bread and top with greens. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

(Michelle's note: There is no reason canned beans wouldn't work just as well here. Also, the bean spread will freeze nicely, ready to pull out and defrost as the start to a nice vegetarian lunch.)

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