Friday, December 05, 2008

Lovely Legumes

There's no denying it. I love legumes. Give me a dried bean, throw in a little pork and some onion and I'm a happy camper.

Whether black, white, pinto or a mix, I have no prejudice. Bastard soup made with black beans? Yum. A simple white bean soup with bacon and kale? Fabulous. And why these are considered poor man's food is beyond me, since they are packed with flavor, not to mention nutrition, and are made from ingredients most of us have in the pantry.

The other night I made a bean stew with a smoked ham hock and a mixture of vegetable and chicken stock and had plenty left over to freeze for another dinner. The hock was a little sweet, so I added some red wine vinegar to sharpen the flavor, then served it with a drizzle of olive oil and a loaf of Como bread. It just doesn't get better than that!

White Bean Stew

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 lb. white beans (I used bianchetto beans from Ayers Creek)
8 c. water or vegetable or chicken stock (add more if needed)
1 smoked ham hock
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in large soup pot or Dutch oven and sauté onion and garlic till soft. Add stock, beans and ham hock and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer 2 hrs. or until beans are tender. Remove ham hock and shred meat, throwing away excess fat and bone. Red wine vinegar can be added if desired. Add salt and pepper and simmer another 20 minutes. Serve with additional olive oil for drizzling.

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