Tuscan Memories- White Bean Mash with Silver Beet
I found a huge, beautiful bunch of silver beets (also called chard, but the word silverbeet sounds way more appealing and harmonious to me) at the veggie market yesterday and had a sudden flash back of a typical Italian bean dish that we enjoyed a few years ago in Tuscany. The dish was simple yet stunning- like a lot of other things in Italy.
Living in Austria, which shares a border with Italy, we naturally spend a lot of time in Italy. At that particular time, we spent Easter at an “agriturismo“– and even bought a supersize colorful foil- wrapped Easter egg out of curiosity what was hidden inside those beautiful eggs.
Our egg looked kind of like this one.. want to know what was inside? Well, inside was a this huge, hollow chocolate egg, which upon cracking it open, revealed a plastic capsule with a few pieces of the company’s celebrated chocolate candies.
The different houses of the agriturismo were build with stones and wood, were beautiful and very simply decorated- and I mean that in a good way. These traditional houses stay cool in summer, but unfortunately also cool in winter and I walked around the house in two pairs of socks because of the cold stone floor.
For a long time, agriturismi have been Italy’s best-kept accommodation secret.
But what, exactly, is an agriturismo? Well, it’s basically a “farm-stay.” One of the best parts of staying in a traditional agriturismo? The food. Local and seasonal from the farm and freshly prepared.
Another bonus is getting to know the local people who run the farm and always love a chat.
Back to the silver beets and the beans. My husband and I cherish delicious food and as soon as the chefs or nonnas (grandmothers, who are always in the kitchen) find out, they love to surprise and spoil us with different traditional dishes. We especially have a faible for simple, tasty and – of course- plant based dishes, which you find plentiful in Italy.
At the agriturismo, dry beans were used for the bean mash. I find it more difficult to plan ahead as I am more of a spontaneous person (for the people who like to stick to plans, check out my weekly meal plans) and therefore use organic canned beans.
But if you do wish to prepare dry beans, here is a traditional recipe that I was provided with in Italy:
1 lb (about 2 cups) of dried beans, which makes roughly 6 to 7 cups cooked beans, Olive oil, galric, sage, peppercorns, salt.
1. Sort through beans, discarding any small stones; then rinse beans under cold running water. Put beans in a large earthenware casserole, cover with cold water, and set aside to soak for at least 4 hours or overnight.2. Drain beans; then add 12 cups cold water, 2 tbsp oil, 2 crushed garlic cloves, 5 fresh sage leaves and 3 peppercorns. Cover casserole, and bring to a simmer over medium heat, about 1 hour. Season to taste with salt, reduce heat to medium-low, and gently simmer, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until bean skins are tender and interiors are soft, about 1-2 hours more. Remove from heat, set aside, and allow beans to cool in the cooking liquid.3. Drain beans and remove sage and peppercorns.I chose for the bean mesh canned cannellini beans and the outcome was delicious.You can either eat it just like that or make amazing crostini with the bean chard mixture.This is how:
- Toast a slice of your favorite whole grain bread
- Brush it with a bit of extra vergin olive oil
- Rub up with half of a garlic clove
- Spoon warm bean mixure on the bread
- Season with salt and pepper
Find the entire recipe on http://plantbasedhappy.com/?page_id=4408
… SO DELICIOUS!! ….AND EASY! … AND NUTRITIOUS…. well, you get it…
Italy, we miss you!