Pesto Beans on Toast with Roasted Tomatoes
Anyone who knows me knows I am very passionate about beans. It's borderline weird. As the self proclaimed president of the beans fan club, I was overjoyed to find @BoldBeanCo on Instagram because it's the most lovely collection of bean inspo I've seen (if you have a great place for bean inspo please share!). It was scrolling through these images one Sunday night that I was inspired to make a simple but special bean focused meal. I had a frozen bit of a really good chicken stock I had made, parm ends and pesto I was looking to finish AND I had made fresh bread that day. I was in for a treat. Not only did it taste delicious, but I relished in the satisfaction of finishing off many bibs and bobs from my fridge.
Here's how it went down:
For the Beans:
2 cups dried navy beans or cannelini beans, soaked overnight *you can also use canned beans
chicken stock (the higher quality the better here, there really aren't many ingredients). If using dried beans you will need about 3 litres, and if you are using canned 1 litre should be enough.
parmigiano rinds (that's the hard outer shell of the parmigiano which I recommend freezing and stocking up once you've eaten all the cheese) *optional
any herbs you have kicking around (I used rosemary and thyme)
5 garlic whole garlic cloves with the skin
salt salt salt (dried
beans especially really need salt)
I've gotten in the habit of adding a strip of kombu to my beans because Cooks Illustrated told me to once but I haven't really noticed it make a difference. I continue to do it anyways. So that's optional
olive oil, if you are using store-bought chicken stock. Store-bought stock generally has no fat and therefore you want to add some to ensure soft textured tasty beans.
roasted red peppers, cut into strips
half a lemon, zested and juiced
grated parmigiano or pecorino cheese
fresh chopped parsley
good crusty bread, toasted if you wish
NB: there are no rules to how you top off a good bowl of beans, this is just what I had that day and it worked out really well. Any strong flavoured condiment will work here. Miso is delicious, sundried tomatoes would be a great punch, dig through your fridge and see what you find!
Drain off the soaked beans and place them in a pot with the chicken stock, parm rinds, whole garlic, whole herbs, salt and pepper, and the kombu, if you're using any of these. If you are using store-bought stock, give a good glug of fat. Bon Appetit recommends an inch or so of fat to cap off this whole thing. While that might be a lot, fat here is definitely important so make sure there is some.
Bring this to a simmer and let it go. On this particular day I left it to a low simmer for 4-5 hours while I did a thousand other things, but you can pull the heat up a bit to make it happen faster. I wouldn't recommend keeping them at a rolling boil the whole time. Skim the foam off the top as it appears. Taste for texture and add salt as necessary. Tasting for your preferred texture is the best way to know when they're done, all beans are different so there are no strong rules here. This is a slow and beautiful process though, and your whole home will smell fantastic. When they're done, fish out the herbs, garlic, kombu and the parm rinds. Squeeze the now soft garlic out of the skins, smash that and add it back to the beans. Be careful- this is hot!
If you are using canned beans and you do have the parm rinds, I would suggest simmering them in the chicken stock to boost up the flavour before you use it. Drain and rinse the canned beans and add them to this stock to simmer for about 30 minutes, until they're soft and flavourful and the surrounding stock has thickened slightly.
Meanwhile, toss the cherry tomatoes with olive oil, salt, pepper, and dried oregano. Roast these in the oven at 400F until you can smell them, about 25 minutes. They should be collapsed and browned.
To serve, scoop beans into a bowl and be sure to include some broth. Top with pesto, roasted tomatoes and roasted peppers. Squeeze some lemon juice on top and sprinkle the zest all over. Drizzle some olive oil on top and finally sprinkle some grated cheese and fresh chopped herbs. Again, this is all optional, use whatever tasty bits you have lying around. Serve it all with crusty bread. Enjoy