Posts Tagged ‘white beans’

Some people don’t like the idea of eating rabbit–memories of treasured pets linger in the mind. Meredith tells me she had a white rabbit called Honey Bunny growing up in suburban Chicago–which produced little honey bunnies every five weeks after the first batch–born one Easter (clever bunny!).

She is still in two minds about eating rabbit, which she claims is not eaten much in the USA.

Rabbit is tasty, lean meat and makes for a change.

You could try this with chicken.

Serves 4

1 large jar of white beans–cannellini, haricot or other white beans, drained

4 tablespoons  of olive oil

rabbit pieces or more

salt and pepper

1/2 teaspoon of coriander seeds–dry roasted in a small frying pan and crushed

8 cloves of garlic–peeled

bay leaves

100ml/31/2fl oz white wine

300ml/10fl oz water

2 tablespoons of parsley–chopped

heat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas2.

  • Heat the olive oil in a lidded pan or casserole that can go into the oven.
  • Season the rabbit pieces with salt and pepper and brown them gently. (These hind quarter pieces were enough for us)
  • Add the coriander seeds and garlic and turn them over in the oil until the garlic colours a little.
  • Add the bay, the wine, the water and the beans.
  • Cover the pan and cook in a  low oven–(cooking it slowly helps to keep it moist)–for about 30–40 minutes.
  • Check the doneness of the rabbit–the juices should run clear.
  • Sprinkle over the parsley before serving.

Read Full Post »

Another bean soup–can’t have too many in my opinion!

Interior insulation for the post prandial walk on a chilly winter day.

This satisfying soup is based on one in Elizabeth Romer’s lovely book, The Tuscan Year: Life and Food in an Italian Family.

Her account of the Cerroti family’s daily existence is a good read and full of authentic seasonal recipes.

Serves 4

4 tbsp olive oil

2 onions – chopped small

2 sticks of celery – chopped small

3 cloves of garlic – finely chopped

100 g/4 oz smoked bacon/pancetta – use unsmoked if you prefer – chopped small

4 tbsp parsley – chopped

1 x 450 g/16 oz can tomatoes – drained and chopped

350 g/12 oz tinned/jarred white beans – drained, rinsed and puréed–use the best quality beans you can find–it makes a difference

570 ml/1 pint/ vegetable stock – more if you like (I use organic veg. stock cubes)

150 g/6 oz “short” wholewheat pasta – (i.e. penne or farfalle, not spaghetti)

salt and pepper

freshly-grated parmesan

  • Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan.
  • Add the onions, celery, garlic, bacon and parsley, and turn them in the oil.
  • Cook them over a gentle heat until the vegetables are tender and the bacon is colouring up – this is the “taste engine” of the soup and needs some time – at least 20 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes and mix them in and allow to meld for a good 10 minutes.
  • Add the beans and mix in.
  • Cook gently for 10 minutes.
  • These stages are important for a good depth of flavour and shouldn’t be rushed.
  • The soup should look beautiful now – with a warm glow.
  • Add half the stock and let it meld in.
  • Add the pasta and the rest of the stock and cook the pasta in the soup.
  • It may take a little longer than pasta normally does (I put a lid on at this point to help).
  • Be careful that this thick and unctuous soup does not stick and burn.
  • If you prefer it looser, add more stock and cook on a little to incorporate it.
  • Check the seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste –remembering that the bacon and stock can be salty.
  • Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and swirls of olive oil.

(This nourishing soup is included in my cookbook–Delicious Dishes for Diabetics–a Mediterranean Way of Eating.)

Read Full Post »

An autumn/winter soup this–with a big presence.

Adapted from Leslie Forbes’ lovely book  A Table in Tuscany.

In the early eighties she had the bright idea of eating her way round Tuscany’s restaurants and watering holes–an arduous task to set oneself.

This soup–one of the best bean soups in Tuscanyshe credits to the restaurant of the Fattoria dei Barbi near Montalcino and the unnamed English cook, married to an Italian, thus providing the important advantage of a Tuscan mother-in-law!  This is 25 years ago mind–things have a habit of changing.

The book remains a gem (used copies available on Amazon for a penny!).

2 carrots--chopped small

2 sticks of celery–chopped small

2 leeks–cleaned and chopped small

6 tablespoons olive oil

3/4 tinned tomatoes–chopped up with their liquid

A sprig of fresh thyme

1 large garlic clove–pulped

Half a green cabbage–stem removed and shredded

The other half of the cabbage shredded thinly–this for a topping (see below)

1 tablespoon olive oil

About 800 gms/24 oz of cooked white beans [canned or bottled or dried, soaked and cooked]–drained but their liquid retained

1 pint/500ml stock–I use organic vegetable stock cubes
  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan and sweat the celery, leeks and carrots until they are tender–about twenty minutes.
  • Mix in the tomatoes, garlic and thyme and let them cook on for five minutes.
  • Add the cabbage, season with salt & pepper and cook on for ten minutes.
  • Purée three-quarters of the beans in a mixer with a little of their liquid.
  • Add the bean water and the bean purée and stir it all together.
  • Cook this thick mix for an hour–stirring it regularly to stop it sticking and burning.
  • Add a little of the stock each time you stir it.
  • This is meant to be a thick soup–up to you how loose to make it–just be careful not to dilute the depth of taste.
  • While the soup cooks on sauté the rest of the cabbage to serve as a topping when you present the soup.

  • Keep tasting the soup as you go (you may find yourself doing that anyway!).
  • Serve with a drizzle of good quality olive oil.

Read Full Post »

The green “gold” that won 2nd prize at the Fiera dell’Olio in Cavriglia, Tuscany last Sunday.

Our friend Keith has emailed to say their new season olive oil from his Podere [farm]Boggioli won second prize at the local fair this week. A good enough reason, if I needed one, to cook one of Helen’s signature dishes for lunch today.

Helen cooked this delicious pasta after the last olive was in the basket and the picking was done for another year.

Two of the team stayed to eat it with us–Lucio and Ivan. Both still had  their own trees to harvest.

I like to think they’d had the dish before and knew it was irresistible.

for 2  [for 4–double up on the beans and their liquid and add 4 oz/100 gms more pasta]

200 gms/8 oz wholewheat penne

4 tablespoons olive oil

8 cloves of garlic–peeled but kept whole

a handful of fresh sage

2 small red (hot) chilies–chopped

1 tin  [about 200 gms drained] of white beans–drained, but their liquid retained

4/5 tablespoons of stock–I dissolved half an organic vegetable stock cube in a mug of hot water


  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan.
  • Add the garlic and let it colour a little.

  • Add the sage and chilis and let them cook on for a few moments.
  • Add the beans and cook gently for about fifteen minutes–adding the bean liquid little by little to make a thick runny sauce.
  • I continued cooking the mix a little longer, adding the tablespoons of stock–a couple at a time–to keep the mixture loose without losing the thick viscous quality of the sauce.

  • Some of the beans will melt into the sauce.
  • Season with salt and taste.
  • Cook the penne in plenty of salted water until just tender.
  • Drain the pasta.

  • Add the sauce to the pasta and let it meld in.
  • Helen doesn’t serve grated parmesan with this pasta–but it’s up to you, of course.
  • I poured over a little of the new olive oil–naturally!

  • Meredith added a little parmesan–that’s marriage for you!
  • We ate it “al fresco” in the late autumn sunshine.

Read Full Post »

This is my version of a “serious” white bean soup from the great Italian-American cook, Marcella Hazan.

It is in my newly published book–Delicious Dishes for Diabetics–a Mediterranean Way of Eating.

The smooth and creamy consistency make it a comfort soup par excellence –and popular here with nieces and nephews when they come to visit. Meredith says it reminds her of her home town–Chicago, “the Windy City”!

The simple makings

Serves 4

1 clove of garlic – peeled and chopped

8 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoon flat leaf parsley – chopped

1 kg/36 oz canned or, preferably, bottled cannelini /white beans – drained and rinsed

salt and pepper

250 ml/½ pint/1 cup vegetable stock –[I use organic vegetable stock cubes]

toasted wholewheat/rye bread with a little olive oil

  • Sauté the garlic in the oil gently until it colours.
  • Add the parsley and stir a couple of times.
  • Mix in the beans, salt and pepper.
  • Cover and cook gently for about 5 minutes to warm through.
  • Purée a quarter of the beans in a mixer and return with the stock to the pan.
  • Simmer for another 5 minutes.
  • Check the seasoning.
  • Serve over the toast with a swirl of olive oil in each bowl.

Read Full Post »

I’ve been neglectful of the tomato patch and it has got out of control.

I’m too ashamed to show a photo of it!

I didn’t do a proper job on the staking and when tomatoes get riper they get heavier and need strong support.

My efforts to put things right yesterday were comical, and I decided to let them go their ways and be grateful for what they offer.

I apologised and promised I’d do better by them next year!

Mother Nature’s been in a forgiving mood and the yield has been sweet and generous so far.

I collected enough ripe tomatoes to make this salad.

It’s based on the wonderful Riverford Farm Cook Book with some rocket added.

a handful of rocket

1 jar of cooked cannellini [white beans]–rinsed

3 courgettes–sliced into 1/2 centimetre–ie not too thick and not too thin!– strips

a generous handful of cherry tomatoes

a generous handful of basil leaves

1 clove of garlic–peeled and pulped with a pinch of salt

3 tablespoons olive oil


more olive oil to brush the courgettes and to annoint the warmed beans

Heat a griddle  to hot.

Warm  the beans through in a little water.

Drain and moisten them with a tablespoon of olive oil.

Add them to a large bowl in which you are going to mix the salad.

Brush the courgettes with oil and grill them on both sides until tender and nicely charred.

Add them to the bowl.

Add the cherry tomatoes–halved if they are on the large side.

Combine the basil, garlic, a pinch of salt and the olive oil in a food mixer and whizz.

Add this to the salad and turn it over carefully.

Lay the rocket in a wide bowl and gently empty the mixed salad into it, and  turn the salad again.

You can serve this tepid or at room temperature.

Read Full Post »