Genius Recipe

 

That’s a risky title. When I worked at a restaurant many years ago the chef, wisely, noted that you should never call anything the “best this” or “world-famous that”. . . it’s annoying, it’s highly subjective, so on and so forth. I think this falls into a slightly different category. The folks at Food52 ask folks to submit genius recipes and I believe they define them as just plain smart, unusual, surprisingly delicious, and/or unexpected in their simplicity and success. I’ve been meaning to submit this recipe to them but in the meantime, here it is. And it has an irreverent title to boot!

It’s toasted bread, rubbed with garlic, slathered with pesto and doused with brothy black beans. That’s it and it’s really, really good. Make it and tell me when you do and what you think.

Zuppa Bastarda (“Bastard Soup”)
–inspired by Carol Boutard (of Ayers Creek Farm) who got the recipe from Nostrana which got the recipe from Anne Bianchi.

Bastard soup is so named because it uses black beans, which are called fascistini in honor of what Elda Cecchi calls “that black shirted bastard who brought Italy to the brink of destruction during WWII.”

It’s very simple to make. And if you have previously cooked black beans with their broth on hand by all means just use those. The garlic and pesto on the toasted bread add lots of flavor so don’t be put off by its simplicity.

1 ¼ cups dried black beans, soaked (or 3 cups of cooked black beans in their cooking liquid, see headnote)
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 medium onion, peeled and cut in half
2 tsp dried crumbled dried sage or chopped, fresh sage
6 3/4-inch thick slices good bread, toasted
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons basil pesto
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Drain the beans and place in a soup pot along with 3 cloves of the garlic, the onion, sage, 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt and enough water to cover by 2 inches. Heat to boiling over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 25 – 45 minutes or until beans are tender. Cut the remaining garlic cloves in half. Using half a clove for each 2 slices of bread, rub the bread with the cut sides of the garlic until the bread is perfumed with the odor, spread about 1 tablespoon of pesto on each slice. Divided the slices among 6 bowls and pour the bean soup into the bowls over the bread. Drizzle with olive oil. Serve hot.

Happy Cooking and Eating!

P.S. I’ve posted a bunch of new classes, shorter, cheaper and with new subject matter, including one for youth/kids and pantry stocking/quick meals one.

I used Black Basque beans (grown by Ayers Creek Farm in Gaston, Oregon) this time around and they have a much lighter hue when cooked. Usually I use Black Turtle beans which are much darker. It works well with both or probably any other kind of black bean you have. Getting the best, freshest beans you can find is always good though.

 

 

Beautiful, Abundant, Forgiving. . .

. . . and delicious! The wedding cake! Yes it was but that’s for the next post! I’m really talking about Chard, Swiss Chard. Much less sexy but much more practical. Chard is a workhorse of a vegetable and solved my dinner conundrum tonight. I have four plants in the garden and pick a generous bunch at least once a week.

Unfortunately my red chard plants just started bolting so I have less of a rainbow situation now but the white and gold ones are still beautiful.

Chard keeps in a plastic bag in the fridge for at least a week. It’s easy to cook and equally delicious braised for a longer period of time to bring out all its sweetness or quickly sautéed.

In tonight’s iteration I turned it into “Daddy Patties”, so named by my niece for my brother. Not sure why, but the moniker has stuck. Call them what you will, they are a hearty, delicious meal usually devoured by non-greens-loving adults and children with glee, as well as by us greens-lovers!

I had a heel of stale bread to use up today and was a bit lazy and just cut the bread into rough pieces. I love the flavor and texture of the bigger bits of bread in the patties but it does make the patties harder to fry and  flip as they break up more easily. They taste just as good but aren’t quite as beautiful.

My mother used to serve these with rice and a tomato sauce. I don’t usually take the time to make a sauce but it’s a great combo. I serve them with a dollop of Greek yogurt or sour cream or just plain or with a salad on the side.

2 bunches greens (chard, beet greens, spinach, kale, collards or any combination of these)

2 eggs

½ – 1 cup grated cheese (cheddar, swiss, gouda, asiago, parmesan (use the smaller amount if you’re using a hard cheese like parmesan, etc.)

1 cup larger, roughly torn bread crumbs or 1/cup more finely ground ones (or if you don’t have bread/bread crumbs you can  use 3 Tablespoons of cornmeal in the batter instead)

a pinch or two of chili flakes (optional)

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)

salt

pepper

oil for pan frying

Wash and coarsely chop the greens. Cook them in ½ cup or so of water in a large sauté pan or pot for a few minutes until they are tender (for kale or collards the cooking time will be a bit longer, but not much). Drain well and squeeze out most of the moisture and chop the greens again. Beat the 2 eggs in a large bowl, add salt, pepper, chili flakes and nutmeg (if using), grated cheese and bread crumbs. Mix in greens. Taste for salt.

Heat a cast iron or other large skillet with a tablespoon or so of olive or safflower oil. When hot spoon  about large spoonfuls of the mixture into pan and pat down with a spatula to flatten. Flip after a few minutes when the underside is golden brown. Cook a few minutes more and serve. They keep warm and hold up nicely in a 250 degree oven.