Thursday Night Nicoise Salad

Thursday Night Nicoise Salad
Allow all of your salad stars to shine on their own. Dress each component of your salad individually and pile onto a platter. Simple food is just so darn pretty. Make something like this whatever you have on hand!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Beans!

When Mark & I were heading home from San Francisco after visiting David and Jason, we had the last minute opportunity for a little gourmet shopping at the Napa Farms Market at the San Francisco Airport. Wonderful options for healthy snacks and great stuff to bring home from San Francisco area producers. Acme sourdough bread. Napa Valley wines. Cowgirl Creamery cheese. You know I was happy. One great find were these heirloom beans from Rancho Gordo, a Napa farm offering wonderful beans and corn and chiles and more. They had several varieties to choose from. We brought home two bags. Snowcaps and Rio Zapes.


I made the Snowcaps yesterday and they were delicious. I decided to prepare them simply and used Jamie Oliver's method for making what he calls "humble beans" (from his book, JAMIE AT HOME). His recipe calls for cannelini or borlotti beans but I'm sure it's a great method for many varieties of dried beans, such as these Snowcaps.

Here's a picture of these beautiful Snowcap beans after a good rinse.






Next, a picture of the swollen, wrinkly beans after having been soaked for about 7 1/2 hours in cold water. That's what we would like too, lol.
Now, a nice shot of the pre-soaked beans after being drained and then refreshed with cold water. As you can see, I added three bay leaves, one small peeled potato, cut in half, two cherry tomatoes, halved, a trimmed celery stalk, a sprig of rosemary, a few sprigs of thyme and three cloves of unpeeled garlic. Then, you slowly bring them up to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until tender. Click here for the recipe.





Jamie's method worked well and the beans were simple and delicious. Once the beans were tender, I think it only took about an hour or so. . . you drain them and reserve the liquid. You remove the potato, the garlic cloves and the tomato halves. Remarkably, the tomato halves are perfectly in tact. The cloves of garlic are also in tact since they were unpeeled. So, when cool enough to handle, you kind of pinch the tomato halves from the skin and the skin is easily removed. You squeeze the garlic cloves also, removing their papery skins. You mash the potato, the cooked and softened garlic and the skinned tomatoes together along with a little bean liquid and a spoonful of beans. After fishing out the herbs, bay leaves and celery, return the beans to the pot. Add reserved bean liquid to cover (more or less depending on your preference) and add the mashed potato mixture to thicken a bit. At this point, you must add salt since no salt has been added yet. This is critical because if you don't, these beans will have no flavor. So, thoughtfully add kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. When serving, add a swirl of olive oil, a dash of red wine vinegar, some finely chopped fresh parsley and freshly ground black pepper. The addition of that shot of vinegar makes all the difference and really elevates the flavor to just the perfect and most delicious balance. Louie agrees!



So, "cucina di povera" continues in Katie's Passion Kitchen. It's really easy to eat well AND eat cheap! Beans are so good for you. Think phytochemicals, protein and antioxidants. Dried beans are virtually fat free and contain more fiber than most whole grain foods.

Delicious and nutritious.


Love, Katie

BTW, do you know where YOUR beans are coming from?

The #1 dried bean producing state in the U.S. is North Dakota (who knew?) and the #2 - Michigan! California is #7.

Hey, you can rely on me for the Bean 411 anytime.

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MORE 4 U

From here, you can continue scrolling down to check out some of my favorite dishes and KPK highlights.

For more posts (articles), recipes, stories and pictures, you can scroll up (in the right column under "What You Missed") and click on 2008, 2009 2010, 2011, 2012 or 2013. As of June, 2013, there are are total of 139 posts in KPK. You can spend more time here when you know where to look, right?! Another way to enjoy my kitchen is to click on any items of interest in the section entitled "Passion Posts", also up above in the right column.

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