Beans often times get a bad rap. It is so wrong, therefore, I want to put things straight starting with this recipe. Am I on a bean crusade? You won’t find this in a can, not this intense fragrance and flavor. Cooking the whole head of garlic in the pot gives it the buttery nuance of baked garlic while sauteing a little more garlic in olive oil with the herbs lends nuttiness and releases herb oils. If you are a real garlic-head you can double up on the garlic used, I do.
Can be served as a soup or reduce the broth (save for another soup stock) for a bean side dish.
Simple, earthy, rustic.
Olive oil and bread.
A Salad. . .
1 pound of white navy beans or Great Northern
9-10 cups of water
1 Mediterranean bay leaf
1 head of garlic, top ¼ cut off, paper still on (reserve top ¼)
1 medium yellow onion, cut into quarters, base intact
1 celery stalk cut into 2-3” chunks
1 carrot cut into 2-3” chunks
2 generous sprigs of fresh oregano and/or marjoram
2 generous sprigs of fresh sage, about ¼ cup
2 sprigs of thyme
4 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
3 Tablespoons good quality olive oil
1 tablespoon of kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
About 1 quart of cherry tomatoes or 1 cup coarsely chopped sun-dried tomatoes
Soak beans in a bowl of warm water for 10 minutes. Pour beans into a colander and rinse under warm running tap water discarding immature beans and pebbles. Empty into a Dutch oven with water, bay leaf, head of garlic, onion, celery, and carrot. Place, covered, on rack in oven and bake at 350 for about 2 hours. Beans should be tender, but not mushy. With a slotted spoon remove onion, carrot, celery and bay leaf. Remove the garlic and allow to cool until it can be handled. Squeeze the soft garlic cloves into the bean pot. At this point you can smash some of the beans with a few crushes from a potato masher, or a quick spin with an immersion blender to create a creamier soup.
In a skillet warm the olive oil, add the oregano/marjoram, thyme, sage, and chopped garlic (include the ¼ top) Sauté just until fragrant. Add to the bean pot being sure to scrape the olive oil in too. Season with salt and pepper. Add tomatoes and allow to simmer on the stovetop about ½ -1 hour.
Adjust salt and pepper. Remove herb stems. Ladle into bowls and serve with parmesan dusted crostini.
Photo Copyright Katharine Pollak Photography