Wednesday, May 21, 2008
The weather is finally back to what we expect spring in Oregon to feel like. It's coolish at times, with light, almost mist-like precipitation interspersed with warm, 70-degree days. And these pre-summer temperatures provide an opportunity to get the last of the winter's braising and simmering out of the way before barbecue season hits in earnest.
I was going through the dried goods on the pantry shelf yesterday and ran across a bag of dried purgatorio beans from Anthony and Carol Boutard's Ayers Creek Farm. We also had a few slices of uncooked bacon left from Sunday's breakfast, so it seemed that an Italian bean dish would be in order. Anthony describes the purgatorio as a "very small, thin-skinned white bean originating from Gradoli (Viterbo), Italy," and I can add that its creamy, lush texture and almost sweet flavor is fabulous when combined with smoky bacon and tomato.
Throw in a little arugula from the market and the final batch of pesto from last fall and we called it dinner.
White Bean Stew
For the stew:
4 slices bacon, sliced in 1/4" pieces
1 large onion, chopped fine
4 cloves garlic, crushed with the flat of a knife, skins removed
6-8 c. chicken stock
2 c. small white beans
5 canned roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch arugula
Parmesan for sprinkling
Fry bacon in large Dutch oven. When rendered of fat, add chopped onion and garlic and sauté till translucent. Add rest of stew ingredients and bring to a strong simmer. Turn down heat and simmer till beans are tender (at least 1 1/2 hrs.). Add stock or water if it seems too dry, but the end result should have a stew-y rather than a soupy quality.
To serve, put a handful of the arugula in the bottom of the bowl. Put a ladle-full of the stew on top, then add a tablespoon or so of pesto. Sprinkle with parmesan and serve with a slice of crusty bread and a glass of red wine alongside.