Summer White Bean Ragout
This might be my favorite recipe of the summer. It’s a quick ragout of hearty white beans and sweet summer tomatoes in a robustly flavored broth. I love how the tomatoes — just barely cooked — burst in your mouth when you bite into them, and how fresh basil, mint and a splash of balsamic vinegar liven the dish up. Serve it as a meatless main course, ideally with toasted garlic bread for sopping up the broth, or as a side dish to grilled meat.
I suggest using dried beans if you can (it’s hardly any more work than putting them on the stove and forgetting about them) but canned will work fine in a pinch. Just be sure to use a brand you’re familiar with. I’ve had good results with Goya, but others — particularly the organic brands — can be downright mushy because they don’t contain any firming agents. Basically, if you want beans with a nice bite to them and wish to avoid the additives, the only way is to soak and cook the beans yourself.
Begin by cooking the onions in olive oil until soft and translucent. Add the garlic (I always use my garlic press) and cook for a minute more.
Stir in the cherry tomatoes.
Then add the beans, chicken broth, tomato paste and balsamic vinegar.
Simmer for a few minutes to warm the beans and tomatoes, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the fresh herbs right before serving so they keep their pretty green color.
Summer White Bean Ragout
- 1/2 pound dried cannellini beans, soaked and cooked (or two 15-ounce cans, drained and well-rinsed, preferably Goya)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1-1/2 cups chopped yellow onions, from about one large or two small onions
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- 1-1/2 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- 1-1/2 teaspoons tomato paste
- 1-1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped mint
- Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Cook the onions, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Do not brown. Add the garlic and cook one minute more.
- Add the tomatoes, beans, chicken broth, tomato paste and balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (I use about 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, but it depends on what type of beans you use; canned will have some salt already.) Bring to a simmer and cook until tomatoes are slightly softened but still hold their shape, 3-5 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Note that the sauce may have a strong vinegar flavor at first, but it will mellow out. Right before serving, stir in the fresh basil and mint. Transfer to serving dish, garnish with more fresh herbs if desired, and serve hot.