Saturday, August 28, 2010

Early Meatless Monday For AB

So I have all this aging celery in the garden, it's getting fibrous and I don't even like celery but even the celery lover doesn't want to eat it but I hate to let it go to compost.
Just so happens the NYT had a recipe that I saw when linking to something else that called for five cups of celery, which is a lot.
Yesterday I decided to make the Greek beans, which I think of as Italian beans because instead of tomato sauce or paste, I used a can of diced Italian spiced tomatoes.
The celery lover and I split the results and, guess what, we each have only about a spoonful left after less than 24 hours.
I like my beans with enough broth to eat as soup because the broth is soooo good. But I was still scarfing the dish down at midnight while I watched The Ghost Writer — pretty good thriller — and so it turns out it was an uplanned but totally satisfying Meatless Friday.
Use all your bean broth when you put the dish in the oven and  bake in something larger than the two-quart glass casserole I used, which boiled over a bit.
I will never be a vegetarian, but I could do more things like this and skip the  beef/pork/chicken entirely every couple of days and never notice the difference.
P.S. I had small navy beans, so that's what I used.

Recipes for Health
White Beans With Celery

This dish is inspired by a Greek recipe from Diane Kochilas’s “The Glorious Foods of Greece” that calls for giant white beans and about three times as much olive oil. I had regular white beans in my pantry and a bunch of celery left over from a recipe that called for only a couple of stalks (which happens so often). I love the textures here. The celery retains a little crunch, which contrasts nicely with the soft beans.

1/2 pound (about 1 1/8 cups) white beans, rinsed, picked over and soaked for six hours or overnight in 1 quart water

Salt to taste

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

4 to 5 cups chopped celery, including the leaves

4 large garlic cloves, minced

1 8-ounce can tomato sauce, or 2 tablespoons tomato paste diluted in 1 cup water

1/4 to 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley (to taste)

Juice of 1 to 2 lemons, to taste

1. Drain the beans, and combine in a large saucepan with enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, add salt to taste, cover and simmer until the beans are just tender, about 45 minutes to an hour. Do not let the beans boil hard or they’ll fall apart before they’re cooked through.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet, and add the celery and a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, until it just begins to soften, about three minutes, and add the garlic. Stir together for a minute, until the garlic is fragrant, and remove from the heat.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Drain the beans over a bowl. Place in a large baking dish, preferably earthenware, and toss with the celery and garlic, the remaining olive oil and the tomato sauce or diluted tomato paste. Add enough of the drained broth to cover by an inch, and stir in the remaining olive oil. Cover the dish tightly with foil, and place in the oven. Bake one hour, or until the beans are soft and creamy.

4. Uncover the beans, stir, and add salt and pepper to taste. Add a tablespoon or 2 of lemon juice, or more if desired, and adjust salt and pepper. Serve hot, warm or room temperature, with a little more olive oil drizzled over the top if desired.

Yield: Serves four.

Advance preparation: The beans will keep for three days in the refrigerator. You may want to thin them out with a little water or broth.

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