Cathy’s Kitchen Prescription LLC
Baked Beans Provençal
Beans, available now in such variety, are wonderfully tasty, very nourishing, and super versatile. Nothing beats the creamy luscious texture and flavor of beans baked with lots of aromatic herbs and vegetables. This dish celebrates the flavors of Provence, combining starchy white beans with shallots, garlic and leeks with roasted tomatoes, fennel and artichokes. It’s a memorable supper or lunch served over toasted garlicy rustic whole wheat sourdough bread to sop up its exquisite juices.
Prep time 2 hours Cooking time 1 ¼ hours Makes 4-6 servings
3 ½ - 4 quart large clay covered casserole or deep stainless covered skillet
1 pound starchy white beans (tarbais, corona, marcella, ayocote blanco, or marrow*), cranberry or borlotti.
Handful of fresh sage leaves
4 cloves garlic, whole and peeled
1 shallot, peeled and studded with a few cloves
2-3 quarts no-sodium veggie broth
3 large or 6 medium ripe beefsteak or heirloom tomatoes, thickly sliced and roasted
Fresh thyme leaves
Grinds of black pepper
3 medium fennel bulbs, quartered, blanched, roasted
2 cups red onion, medium dice
1 leek, well cleaned, green top removed, thinly sliced
Sprig of rosemary, small bunches of sage, parsley and thyme leaves, 2 bay leaves, tied in a bouquet garni
Dry white wine to deglaze pot
4 cloves garlic, smashed
Generous grinds of nutmeg
8 whole black peppercorns
¾ cup whole small good-quality brine-cured brown olives like niçoise or gaeta
2 cans or jars artichoke hearts packed in water, rinsed well, quartered
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons red (aka) miso** or to taste, dissolved in casserole juices, or to taste
3-4 slices of stale or toasted artisanal whole wheat bread (sourdough is my favorite),
2 cloves garlic
Fresh thyme sprigs
* Rancho Gordo is a nice source for these less common heirloom bean varieties.
** Miso is a good salt alternative that helps to lower blood pressure (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5313421/#:~:text=Miso%2C%20which%20is%20made%20from,%2C%20including%20salt%2Dsensitive%20hypertension.)
Preheat oven t0 325°F/163°C
Wash beans and soak overnight. For a shortcut, boil in ample water for 3 minutes, then remove from heat, cover, rehydrate for 1 hour or until all beans have swelled and sunk. Drain. Fill pot with beans and broth, covering them by 1-2” of liquid only. Add garlic cloves and sage. Heat and lower to a very gentle simmer. Cook until tender but intact, about an hour but will depend on the freshness of your beans. Remove shallot, sage and garlic. Set aside.
In a 375°F/190°C oven dry roast tomato slabs, sprinkled with thyme on a sheet covered with parchment paper for 30 minutes or until lightly carmelized and semi-dehydrated. They should be tender and fragrant. Cut slices in quarters and set aside.
Remove outer fennel leaves and cut off top and fronds. Boil a pot of water and add fennel. When it returns to boil, lower to simmer and blanch about 12 minutes to parcook. Remove, dry, roast on parchment paper in hot 400°F/200°C oven for 7 minutes, flip and roast another 7 minutes, flip again for a final 7 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Toast whole wheat rustic bread (no need if using stale bread). Rub with a clove of garlic on both sides. Top with freshly ground pepper and fresh thyme leaves. Set aside.
Heat your casserole/skillet for a few minutes. Dry sauté onion on medium/low heat for 5 minutes to sweat before adding the bouquet garni. After the onions have released their water and begun to darken the pan and adhere, deglaze with a very small splash of white wine. Stir to dissolve the carmelized sugars on the pan. Add garlic, leek and spices, mixing gently. adding a little wine when and only if the mix becomes dry.
In a few minutes more add tomatoes, fennel, artichokes, and olives. A minute or two after gently stir in the beans with enough of its cooking water to barely cover the mixture. Allow flavors to meld for a minute or two.
Remove the bouquet garni. Cover and transfer to oven. Bake for 30 minutes covered and 30 minutes uncovered, or until bubbly, thickened and very fragrant. If the casserole has dried out, add a little more of the bean cooking water. Season to taste with freshly ground pepper and dissolved miso, to taste.
Serve in warmed rimmed soup bowls, placing a garlic bread slice on the bottom and spooning the beans and plenty of juice on top. Pass the pepper mill and enjoy!
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