I’m in love.
OK. Not in love in love.
I’m in love with this white bean ragout. It is spectacular–garlicky, cheesy, beany spectacular.
Ragouts haven’t always been held in high esteem,though. Notably, eighteenth-century Tom Jones author Henry Fielding blamed Britain’s declining military prowess on the introduction of ragout to British cuisine from “all-vapouring France.” (They should have been eating beef, he argued.) Sounds to me a bit like the embarassing “freedom fries” tempest-in-a-teapot we suffered through not too many years ago.
Why is it that when the going gets tough, politicians always attack French food?
The original recipe for this dish comes from the Bon Appetit site. The link to the original recipe appears at the end of this post.
Recipe: White Bean Ragout with Toast
2 Medium onions, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 C. extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
4 garlic cloves (3 grated, 1 halved)
2 t. tomato paste
4 one-inch thick slices grilled or toasted ciabatta or sourdough bread
8-10 finely grated Asiago cheese (or Parmesan)
2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans (rinsed and drained)
3 C. vegetable broth (divided)
1/2 C. white wine
1 C. cherry tomatoes (halved)
2 T. chopped flat-leaf parsley
Chop onions and put into a food processor. Pulse until the onions are finely chopped but not pureed. You will have approximately 2 cups of onions.Put chopped onions into a medium bowl. Chop bell pepper and put into food processor. Pulse until bell pepper is finely chopped but not pureed. You will have about 1 C. Add to the bowl with the onions. Mix.
Heat olive oil in a large heavy skillet or Dutch oven. Add onion/red bell pepper mixture and simmer until vegetables are completely softened. This will take about 30 minutes. As you are simmering vegetables, add salt and pepper to season.
When vegetables are soft, add grated garlic (three cloves of garlic) and tomato paste to pan with the onion and bell pepper mixture. Cook, stirring often, until the tomato paste begins to turn deep red. This will take about 3 minutes.
You will need about 1/2 cup of this soffritto mixture for your dish. Remove it from the pan and set aside. Remove the rest of the soffritto from the pan and refrigerate for later use.
Rub bread slices with sliced garlic clove and sprinkle with 1 T. grated Asiago (or Parmesan) cheese. In a 375 degree F. preheated oven, toast bread slices until the cheese begins to brown and the toast begins to firm up. This will take about 5 minutes. (I placed the toast under the broiler for a minute or two to brown the cheese. Watch the bread carefully so as not to burn it.) Set bread slices aside.
Heat the reserved 1/2 C. soffritto in the skillet you originally used to cook the soffritto. Add the beans and heat mixture over medium high heat, stirring often for about one minute. Stir in 3 C. broth and 1/2 C. white wine. Bring to a boil. Simmer until liquid begins to thicken. This will take 3-4 minutes. If your bean mixture is too liquid, remove some of the liquid from the pan but reserve it for use later if you need it. Add sliced cherry tomatoes and simmer until tender, 3-4 additional minutes. Stir in 2 T. Asiago (or Parmesan). Season with salt and pepper. Add back some of the broth if your mixture needs more liquid.
Place a bread slice on a warmed plate. Top with some bean mixture and some broth. Garnish with remaining Asagio and with parsley. Drizzle with a bit of extra-virgin olive oil.
Cook’s Notes: I used Rancho Gordo small white bean Alubia Blanca in this recipe rather than canned beans. I pressure cooked the beans and had them ready in about half an hour.