I have always found the notion of a big pot of rosemary-laced white beans rather charming, but every recipe I've tried has fallen flat. But these beans! They are insane. In a delicious way. I am in love with them- which sounds weird- but I swear, when I think about this pot of beans, I feel a fondness and a warmth not unlike love. I think these beans are so amazing for two reasons: 1) The cooking liquid is great- I think a large part of this is owed to the parmesan rind, so do try to include it. You'll really really want to top the beans with parmesan anyway, so go ahead and buy a small chunk of it that includes the rind, cut that part off, and toss it in the pot. 2) The finished beans are topped with a friendly little mix of things that make them sing: aleppo (a great and not too hot chile flake), parmesan, parsley, sea salt, and lemon (use Meyer lemon if you can get your hands on one). The combination is just brilliant. Also- farro is fun! I had never had it before making this recipe, but I'll definitely eat it a lot now- it's like a nuttier version of pasta (Austinites- they sell it in bulk in CM, which is good, because it's a little pricey). Anyway, I think everyone should make and eat these right away. They are delicious, and healthy, and will give you a warm love-y twinkle in your eye.
P.S. I got Melissa Clark's Cook This Now for Christmas, and I'm cooking my way through it eagerly. It really may be one of my favorite cookbooks ever.
White Bean Stew with Rosemary, Garlic, and Farro
from Melissa Clark's Cook This Now
- 1 pound dried cannellini beans
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
- 5 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 celery stalk, cut in half crosswise (reserve celery leaves for garnishing)
- 1 large onion halved lengthwise from root to stem so it holds together
- 1 whole clove (stick in the onion half)
- 2 rosemary sprigs
- 2 thyme sprigs
- 1 bay leaf
- Piece of Parmesan rind, if you have it
- 2 ½ teaspoons kosher or coarse sea salt, more to taste
- 1 cup farro, rinsed
- Flaky salt, such as Maldon or fleur de sel
- ¼ teaspoon Turkish or Syrian red pepper such as Urfa, Maras or Aleppo
- Chopped celery or parsley leaves, for garnish (optional)
- Lemon juice and Parmesan cheese, for serving
- If you have the time and would like to soak your beans ahead, this will shorten your cooking time. Put the beans in a large bowl and cover with several inches of water. Let soak for as long as you can. Overnight is optimal but even a few hours will hasten the cooking.
- When ready to cook, drain the beans and place them along with the oil, 3 of the garlic cloves, the celery, and the onion in a large pot over medium-heat. Bundle the rosemary, thyme, and bay leaf together, tie securely with kitchen twine, and throw it into the pot (or just throw the untied herbs into the pot, though you will have to fish them out later). Add the Parmesan rind, if using. Cover everything with water and stir in the salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and allow to simmer, partially covered, until the beans are soft. This can take anywhere from 1 to 3 hours, depending on how long (if at all) you soaked your beans and how old your dried beans were when you go them. A test of doneness is to place a bean in your palm and blow on it (the natural thing to do since it will be hot). If the skin breaks, it’s ready. Of course, tasting is a better way to tell. If your bean pot starts to look dry before the beans finish cooking, add more water as needed. At the end of cooking, the water should not quite cover the beans.
- Meanwhile, while the beans are cooking, prepare the farro. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the farro, pasta style, until softened. This could take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, depending upon what kind you use. Drain well.
- Mince the remaining 2 garlic cloves
- When the beans are cooked, remove and discard the onion, celery, herbs, and Parmesan ride if you used it (you can leave the garlic cloves in the pot; they are yummy). Ladle half of the beans into a food processor or blender, add the minced raw garlic, and puree. Return the bean puree to the pot. (You can skip this step and just stir in the minced garlic; the broth will be thinner but just as tasty).
- Serve the beans over the farro, drizzle each portion with plenty of olive oil, then sprinkle with good flaky salt, red pepper, and celery leaves or parsley. If the stew tastes a bit flat, swirl in some lemon juice at the end to perk up the flavors. Grated Parmesan cheese on top is also nice. But make sure not to skimp on the oil, salt and red pepper when serving. It really makes the whole thing come together.
- Substitute any dried bean you like for the cannellini beans. This basic bean recipe will work with any of them, though cooking times will vary.
- Look for semi-pearled farro. It cooks more quickly than whole farro – 20 minutes instead of an hour. If you can’t find farro, you can substitute wheat berries. These will take hours to cook, though, so leave yourself plenty of time. Or try brown rice or whole wheat couscous.
- To add some color and turn this into more of a whole meal, add a bunch or package of spinach, or a small bunch of kale (torn into pieces). Simmer until the greens wilt before serving.