Ever since I first tried this recipe out of Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Cooking, we eat it at least twice a month, which is saying something in this house where we rarely eat the same meal twice. And while we don’t fight over the leftovers, the spouse who offers to let the other eat the leftovers for lunch the next day certainly gets bonus points.
It is, simply, a shockingly tasty recipe. Yes, “shockingly”—look at the ingredients. It’s a recipe for beans and greens. Anyone who’s eaten beans and greens knows basically how they’ll taste, right? Comforting, but kinda bland. Except in this recipe, the pan-frying of the beans means that they end up both crunchy (outside) and creamy (inside). The consistency of the beans becomes somewhat reminiscent of pan-fried potatoes; as you eat, you see why beans can be categorized as a starch. The greens wilt into satisfying chewiness—except for the finely chopped chard stalks, which hold their crunch. Please don’t just take my word for it; you really should try this for yourselves. You won’t regret it, I promise.
One note: This does call for beans that you cook yourself—either from fresh or (more likely) dried beans. Canned beans get mashed up too much in this recipe. Since I plan meals by the week, I set aside time the day before we make this meal to prep and boil my beans. I’ve realized that if I remember to plan ahead, cooking dried beans isn’t actually hard or time-consuming; the process takes a while, but the hands-on time is minimal. The quickest way I’ve found to soak beans is to pour lots of boiling water over them and let them sit for 45 minutes. A more ecologically conscious way to soak them is to put them in cold water overnight. I cook them in fresh water at a low boil for 35-40 minutes (depending on bean size)—with a bit of kombu thrown in to help cut down on the gas effect. Then I just toss the beans in the fridge till they’re ready to use in the recipe.
Crunchy & Creamy Beans & Greens
1/2 lb. medium or large dried white beans, cooked
3 T. ghee (clarified butter) or olive oil
1 onion (red or yellow), coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 or 7 leaves of rainbow chard, leaves cut into wide ribbons and 2 or 3 stems chopped into 1/2″ pieces
freshly ground black pepper
extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
Prep your ingredients; the meal will come together quickly.
Drain the cooked beans. Heat the butter/oil over med-high heat in a very wide but somewhat deep skillet. Add the beans in a single layer. Stir to coat the beans in oil, and let them sit 3-4 minutes—long enough to get golden-brown on the downward side, before flipping them to cook as long on the other side. Salt to taste, then add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion softens a bit, 2-3 minutes. Stir in the chard, and let cook just until the chard wilts. Remove from the heat, and season with salt, pepper, and olive oil.
Serves 3 as a meal.