White Bean Ragout
White Bean Ragout is a recipe I adapted from Wolfgang Puck’s Live, Love, Eat! (Random House 2002). He serves the ragout with sauteed greens and pan seared sea bass. Even without the sea bass and sauteed greens, Bean Ragout has everything you need to survive in the most healthy way possible: a good protein source in beans and a wide range of vegetables — onions, garlic, carrots, celery and greens. Meat eaters can add panchetta and chicken stock, but even Vegans can eat the basic White Bean Ragout.
1 lb. or about 1 ½ cups of white beans (Soaked overnight)
1 large red onion (white will do in a pinch)
2 medium sized carrots
2 or 3 stalks of celery
2 bunches of greens (anything from spinach to Siberian Kale)
¼ cup of olive oil (or render the fat from ¼ lb. of panchetta).
¼ cup fresh chopped garlic
Salt and pepper to taste.
Pour off the soaking water, rinse the beans and remove any bad ones. Put the beans in saucepan, cover with water and simmer gently for about 40 minutes, until the beans are beginning to soften. I say “about,” because freshly dried beans cook much faster than ones that have been stored for a long time.
While the beans are cooking, chop the vegetables into a rough ¼ inch dice. The pile of raw vegetables should about equal the pile of cooked beans.
Heat a saucepan and add the olive oil or render the panchetta by cutting into small dice and cooking until brown. Add the finely chopped garlic and saute until the garlic begins to give off some flavor, then add the other vegetables and cook until tender, ten minutes or so.
Combine the beans and vegetable. Add enough liquid to cover generously. You can use water, but for a more nutritious and tasty dish use vegetable, chicken or beef stock (it will be at least two to three cups).
Cook for another forty minutes or until the beans are very tender. Ten to twenty minutes before the beans are done (depending on the greens) add two bunches of greens cut into thin strips. If you use spinach, it will cook very quickly.
Season with salt and generous amounts of pepper. Serve with grated parmesan cheese and/or hot sauce, fresh bread and a green salad.
I divide this batch into eight individual portions and freeze them. (For purposes of freezing keep the final mixture fairly fluid. The beans are delicious after being frozen, but they pick up more liquid and can be a bit dry when thawed out.) The individual portions are perfect for lunch, and the delicious, natural smells from your White Bean Ragout will be the envy of the the office microwave crowd, heating up their Weight Watcher specials.