Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Another toast recipe: beans & greens.

So, um, yeah.

Apparently I am obsessed with:
1 - Toast.
2 - Food atop toast. Preferably asparagus-related food.

I ate food on top of toast previously here and here.

Tonight, I made another food-on-toast recipe, this time with the classic combination of beans and greens. That's cannellini and braised mixed greens, to be exact. I think the provenance of beans-and-greens is Italian, but I don't know much beyond that. The wonderful thing about the combination is that it relies on pantry ingredients (olive oil, canned beans, garlic, parmesan), and it is very hearty, but not in a heavy way. This is healthy fare, so long as you go light on the toast. Ahem.

The braising greens are a bit of a mystery to me. They came to me wrapped in plastic bag. My farm assured me they contained no lettuce (it appears they did not). The bag contained a smattering of purple leaves, which I could not identify. I'm pretty sure there is spinach in the mix:

Braising greens. See the purple?

In my mind, braising greens are those that are suitable for cooking, versus those that you would eat raw in a salad. Of course some straddle the line - spinach, for one - but there are certainly many greens that benefit from cooking, such as chard and kale. I wonder if my mixed contained any exotic greens, like mizuna.

The recipe was inspired by Deborah Madison, from her book Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison's Kitchen. I'm going to be straight with you. I'm not the biggest fan of her books because I don't find them to be very approachable. This particular tome is much more accessible than The Greens Cookbook. Deborah Madison is a San Francisco dining scene maven. She is a pioneer of vegetarian fine dining. But when her approach to fine dining lands on a page printed for the home cook, something is lost. There is a gap between what I cook on a routine basis in my home kitchen, and what I expect to experience when I sit down at a table in a nice restaurant. The Greens Cookbook is much more of a fine dining experience, complete with innumerable stock recipes, timbales, and herb bechamels. I don't do herb bechamels on a Wednesday evening. This book has a place in my kitchen - once every few months. But Vegetarian Suppers is more down to earth and realistic. I can be coerced into whipping up the black beans and yellow coconut rice once in a while, though I might be a little grumpy that it takes me an hour and a half, and I am expected to pickle red onions for garnish. Harrumph ... and yum!

So imagine my surprise when I came across a food-on-toast recipe in Vegetarian Suppers! And it couldn't be easier. I made a few modifications for what I had on hand, but the intent is all Deborah Madison's. On one of her rare weeknight appearances!

Braised Greens & White Beans on Toast
Adapted from Deborah Madison

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 large garlic clove, peeled and sliced in half
2 stalks green garlic, cleaned and thinly sliced (alternatively, used two minced garlic cloves)
1 pound of mixed braising greens (chard, spinach, etc), chopped if the leaves are large
1/2 cup veggie broth
1 15 oz can white beans (such as cannellini)
splash of balsamic vinegar (about 1 tablespoon)
4 thick slices of rustic bread (I used a pugliese)
grated parmesan cheese for garnish

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute for about 5 minutes, until the onion begins to soften. Add the green garlic and saute for about 3 minutes. Add the greens (don't worry too much about drying them off - the water helps them cook) and stir until they wilt. Add salt to taste. Once they have wilted, add the veggie broth; cover, turn the heat down to medium, and cook for about 4 minutes, longer if your greens are more hearty (like kale). A little liquid in the pan at the end is a good thing.

Meanwhile, toast the bread. While it is still hot, rub with the cut side of the garlic. When the greens are cooked, add the beans and cook until they are heated through. Add the balsamic vinegar, then season with S&P to taste. Spoon the beans and greens evenly over the bread, and top with grated parmesan.

This meal should serve two generously, 3 to 4 as a component dish.

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