I need to tell you what happened with those white beans.

by Lizzie J

Never say I don’t follow through!

I need to tell you about them because (1) I neglected to photograph them, (2) G thought they were the best things ever, and (3) they went in a totally different direction than I’d intended.

The plan was to cook up the beans pretty plain, then mix in the remainder of a can of chipotles in adobo I have sitting in the fridge and some barely-boiled May peas and eat them with tortillas or perhaps corn bread if I could acquire some eggs and all-purpose flour in time.

But that rosemary… it ruined everything.  It was supposed to be an afterthought, some free flavor to back up the smokiness of the chiles.  When I got to smelling all the yumminess that happened when I added it, though… the chipotles were done.  They will wait for another day.

The peas (from my very generous CSA) were put in my wire strainer and dipped into the boiling bean broth for about 5 minutes, then removed to a bowl with a pat of butter and some extra salt and pepper.  Instead of the corn bread, I picked up a loaf of crusty Italian bread and toasted big thick slices of it with olive oil, salt, and black pepper.  I rather miscalculated the brothiness of the beans and decided that little plates would be a good way to serve this (bowls would have been smarter, but plates were fancier).  Toast on the corner of the plate, the rest of it filled with white beans with rosemary bits floating around, and a little pile of buttery bright green peas right in the center.  Asiago grated over all because why not, and we ended up with a slightly other-than-planned but completely nommalicious meal.  Please picture them in your mind really beautifully because as I said, they were eaten way too fast to wait for pictures.  I’ll be sure to photograph the inevitable repeat and update soon.

To wrap up, I leave you with a copy-and-paste and reuse recipe.  Let me know where it takes you.  (By the way, this meal was cheap as all get out.  The $4 loaf of bread was the biggest splurge… and we didn’t even use it all up.  Dried beans, free farm peas, free rosemary, and time.  Maybe… $7 worth of food for the 2 of us?  And there are leftovers!  Take THAT, eating out!!)

Rosemary White Beans with May Peas

2 cups dried white beans
plenty of salt
plenty of fresh black pepper
about 8-9 3-inch sticks of rosemary
1 clove garlic
1 small onion
2 big glugs of olive oil (best you can stand to cook)
1/2 cup shelled May peas
1/2 T butter
2 T freshly grated Asiago (or whatever nutty white cheese you like)
1 loaf crusty bread

Soak the beans overnight (I took Tamar Adler’s advice and just started soaking a pot as soon as I thought of it.  Do the same.  Right now).  Dump the water, rinse briefly, and re-cover with enough water to cover the beans by 2 inches or more.  Put the pot on to boil.  While the heat is coming up, peel the garlic clove and toss it in.  Put on your pants, retrieve the rosemary segments (I have no idea how much this would be in jarred leaves.  Maybe a tablespoon?  Enough to make your whole house smell like rosemary), and toss in the pot.  Add the olive oil, many cracks of black pepper, and salt (less than you would use for pasta).  By this time, the beans should probably be at a boil.  Turn the heat down to medium, or whatever it takes for the water to be bubbly but decidedly nonviolent.  Let all of that hang out for about an hour or 2.  At this point, taste a bean and check the seasoning.  You will be surprised at how much can happen in some hot water in 2 hours.  Peel and chop your onion, toss it in to get soft and pleasant.  Wait.  Keep waiting.  You want the beans to go completely soft and velvety.  Not mostly soft and velvety, but completely.  When they are about 20 minutes from velvet, turn your oven on to 450, slice the bread thickly, drizzle with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle some sea salt and fresh pepper over it.  Pop it in the oven to toast.  When the beans are about 10 minutes from done, rinse your peas and either mix them into the beans or put them in a wire strainer and just lower them into the hot bean broth for about 5 minutes, shaking them gently to make sure that everything is thoroughly covered.  Remove the hot peas to the side and add the butter and another sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Take the toast out of the oven, and serve everything all piled up however you like.  Grate the cheese over the top of everything and bask in the warm, springy simplicity of it all.