There is something so comforting about a simple pot of beans. This summer I grew some heirloom borlotti beans and have been waiting for the cool nights of fall to appreciate them. If you can’t find Borlotti beans, cranberry or great northern work just as well. Warming, hearty and utterly versatile beans are one of my favorite comforting foods. Just a few choice ingredients, beans, garlic, sage and olive oil meld together and make the perfect base for soups, pastas and spreads.
Once you master this basic combination you can really go in a lot of different directions. Today I simply combined them with some nice peppery arugula, Parmesan and olive oil and it made a great light lunch. For a hearty soup just puree half the mixture, top with cheese and olive oil and serve with some crusty bread. Cook up a nice Italian sausage and serve with the beans or toss with some pasta and fresh tomatoes. One of our favorite ways to enjoy them is to eat a big spoonful of beans over scrambled eggs for breakfast and top it with some homemade pesto. They freeze beautifully so I always make a big pot and then I can have dinner on the table in a matter of minutes when I’m short of time.
Borlotti beans with sage and garlic
For the beans:
1 pound dried borlotti beans
1 head of garlic with the top trimmed off
8 large sage leaves
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
6 slices of good country bread
3 cups arugula
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan
extra-virgin olive oil
Combine beans, garlic, sage and olive oil in a medium pot. Add cold water to cover by 1 inch. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook partially covered until tender 1 ½ to 2 hours, adding water ¼ cup at a time as needed to keep the beans submerged. Halfway through the cooking time add the salt and a generous grind of black pepper.
To serve, toast the bread top with a spoonful of beans and arugula and garnish with parmesan and additional olive oil if desired.