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Italian Beans on Toast

Italian Beans on Toast

While watching the Today show a few weeks ago (my morning ritual enjoyed best with coffee), I was lucky enough to catch the adorable, cheeky Jamie Oliver, cooking up a few dishes from his new cookbook, Jamie at Home.

As an aside, if you have never seen or felt one of Jamie’s cookbooks, run, don’t walk, right out to your nearest Borders or Barnes & Noble, grab a copy and get lost in the tactile and visual feast that will be fast upon you.
You will realize why both his Jamie’s Italy and newly released Jamie at Home are high on my wish-list for Santa this year.

Now, back to cooking.

Jamie was explaining how he first saw this dish on a menu in Italy and thought it was kind of simple, boring, bland even.  But then he was shocked and surprised at how something so simple could be so delicious.

That piqued my interest and I focused even closer, knowing that I’d want to make the dish myself.  As with all Italian recipes, the ingredients are inexpensive and can be home-grown, the recipe simple and the results…delish!


Jamie’s Home-cooked Beans

11 oz dried borlotti, cranberry or cannellini beans-soaked in cold water for at least 12 hours
3 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
a few fresh sprigs of fresh thyme
a sprig of fresh rosemary
3 bay leaves
1 celery stalk, trimmed
1 small potato, peeled and halved
2 cherry tomatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
Red wine vinegar
few sprigs of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
slices of sourdough bread

***

Drain your soaked beans, then give them a good wash. Place them in a deep pot and cover them with cold water.  Throw in your garlic, herb sprigs, bay leaves, celery stick, potato and tomatoes.

Your pot set-up

Place the beans on the heat and slowly bring to the boil. Cover with a lid and simmer very gently for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on whether you’re using fresh or dried, until soft and cooked nicely.

Skim if necessary, topping up with boiling water from the kettle if you need to.

When the beans are cooked, drain them in a colander, reserving enough of the cooking water to cover them halfway up when put back in the pot. Remove the garlic, herbs, celery, potato and tomatoes from the beans.

Squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins and pinch the skin off the tomatoes. Put the garlic, tomatoes and potato on to a plate, mash them with a fork and stir back into the beans.

Season well with salt and pepper, and pour in three generous glugs of extra virgin olive oil and a few splashes of vinegar. Stir in the parsley and serve on some toasted sourdough bread.


Beans on Toast as a main dish

Buon Appetito!

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I like the fact that you can serve these as an appetizer, like bruschetta, as shown in the picture leading off the post; Or as a main dish, by placing a large hunk of sourdough on the plate and topping it with a large helping of the beans, pictured directly above.

Jamie offers several creative recipes, using these beans as a base.  Some of the ones I liked best involved frying some red snapper and topping the beans.  Or, topping the beans with a fresh crab and chili salad.

So, have you ever had Beans on Toast?  What else would you top ’em with?


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