Creamy, white cannellini beans are everywhere in Tuscan cooking. Made into smooth spreads for crostini, stuffed into vegetables, pureed into soups and added as fillers for salads, the bean is king in Tuscan kitchens.
Escarole and beans is an old recipe, once considered a poor dish that now finds it way onto the menus of upscale restaurants. Use dried white kidney, Great Northern or borlotti beans for this energy-packed dish.
1/2 cup dried white kidney beans
1 head escarole (about 1 1/4 pounds), leaves separated and well washed
1/3 cup Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
Grinding coarse black pepper
8 oil cured black olives, pitted and minced
Toasted bread slices (optional)
Soak the beans overnight covered with water. Next day drain the beans, put them in a pot, cover with water and cook them until the skins easily slip off. Drain the beans and set aside.
Put the escarole in a large sauté pan, cover the pan and wilt the leaves down. Drain the escarole and squeeze out most of the water. Coarsely chop it and set it aside.
In the same sauté pan, heat the olive oil, add the onions and cook them over medium heat until they are very soft. Stir in the garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper and the escarole, and continue to cook for three or four minutes. Stir in the olives and the beans.
Serve hot as an accompaniment to meat or fish or serve as an antipasto over slices of toasted bread.
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