Photo: Kelly Rossiter
Anyone who reads my column regularly knows that I am a big fan of legumes. They are really good for you and it's a bonus that they are cheap and easy to prepare. They are also really versatile and can be paired with all kinds of vegetables.I particularly like the combination of cannellini beans and dark leafy vegetables such as the kale I used today, but any kind of legume such as kidney beans, chickpeas or even lentils would be delicious in this recipe.
The kale crop in our garden has been doing really well this year and I had lots of it to put into this ragout. I like kale in recipes like this, because unlike spinach or softer leafy vegetables, it retains it's shape and doesn't just "melt" into the ragout. I didn't have any of my home canned tomatoes with me, so I left the tomatoes out of the recipe entirely, and it was just fine without them.
Of course, you can soak beans over night and cook them from scratch and they will taste better than canned, but using canned beans allows you to come home from work and have a nutritious dinner on the table in less than half an hour. If you don't feel like making the croutons, just ladle the ragout right onto a thick slice of toast. I grated a bit of Parmesan cheese over top, but for a vegan dinner, leave that out.
This recipe is adapted from Bon Appetit, May 2004
Cannellini and Kale Ragout
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 1 1/2-inch-thick slices Italian bread, crusts removed, each slice quartered
1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 small onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
5 cups (packed) thinly sliced kale (about 1 large bunch)
1 14 1/2-ounce vegetable broth
1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 15-ounce can cannellini (white kidney beans), drained
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add bread and 1 teaspoon thyme; cook until bread is golden on both sides, turning with tongs, about 2 minutes total. Transfer croutons to bowl; sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2. Add remaining 4 tablespoons oil, onion, garlic, and crushed red pepper to same pot; sauté over medium heat 30 seconds. Add kale and broth; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until kale wilts, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes with juice, beans, and remaining 1 tablespoon thyme. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle ragout into shallow bowls. Top with croutons and cheese, if using, and serve.