KQED Food Blog: Bay Area Bites: Unbearable Lightness of Bean
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Thursday, May 11, 2006
Unbearable Lightness of Bean


I love recipes that make me crave food I loathe. (I get a big kick out of being converted. See, Exibit A: Brussels Sprouts and Pasta and Exibit B: Roasted Brussels Sprouts.) As soon as I saw Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray toast up the River Cafe version of the Brit standby, beans on toast, I knew I was destined to eat a lot of beans. The thing was, I didn't want to make the recipe until I ran down the exact variety of beans they used. Maybe I wasn't looking hard enough or maybe I was living in an alternate universe, but for the life of me, I could not find the elusive Borlotti beans. So, for nearly four years, I did not attempt the Beans on Toast recipe. Call me a food freak, but I had this delicious dream of the perfect beans on toast and I just wasn't willing to compromise. Then into my mailbox dropped Rancho Gordo's newsletter announcing that their Borlotti beans were in. Nothing would satisfy, but I had to run right out and grab a few bags. And send a few more bags to friends. And family. And random people I met on the street. When cooked, these beans turn pink, plump, and so velvety I'm seriously considering having something made out of them. Nothing fancy, just a few throw pillows for my fainting couch. Which comes in handy when you taste this recipe.

Considering the potentially tragic state of our produce this year, this is the perfect way to enjoy summer tomatoes that might not be in the best blush of flavor.

The River Cafe's Beans on Toast
Serves 4

1 16-oz bag Rancho Gordo Borlotti beans, soaked overnight
1 whole head garlic
1 celery stalk
2 ripe tomatos
Workhorse olive oil
Sourdough bread
1 clove garlic
Salt
Pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons young and peppery extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400°

1. Put the soaked beans in an oven-proof baking dish. Apilco or china is preferable, metal can be too abrasive on the beans. Add water to cover the beans by about two inches. Add a whole head of garlic, a celery stalk, and one of the tomatoes. Slosh on a liberal amount of olive oil over the surface of the water. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and poke a few venting holes in the foil. Bake the beans for about 2 hours.

2. Remove the garlic, celery, and tomato. Toast the pieces of bread and while they're still hot, rub them with the garlic clove. Next, take the other tomato in two hands and stick your thumbs in the tomato's bottom. Break the tomato open, hold it over the toasted and garlic-rubbed bread, and let juice and flesh fall. Sprinkle liberally with coarse salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Slap a few spoonfuls of Borlotti beans on top of the toasted bread and drizzle the lot with the two tablespoons of young and peppery extra-virgin olive oil.
 
 

1 Comments:

Anonymous Tana said...

I have been jonesing to make something out of my own River Cafe cookbook, and had the same intense reaction to the Rancho Gordo announcement about Borlotti. Because I'd never seen them and had no idea how to acquire them. I will be getting some as soon as Senor Gordo returns from his annual trek to Mexico, where he is presently seeking new beans and treasures for the Rancho Gordo inventory.

I can't wait.

Borlotti! Borlotti! Borlotti!

5/11/2006 9:04 AM

 

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