This is one of those recipes that is, as I am perhaps overly fond of saying, more than the sum of its parts. I mean, it’s basically beans on toast — not so interesting. But it is! The soffrito (a combination of onions and sweet peppers cooked slowly in olive oil with garlic and tomato paste) makes the whole thing, and the hubby, who is a huge fan of croutons in any context, went wild for the toasted Italian bread with parmesan.
Now that the family is eating dinner together at an earlier hour, I am always looking for meals that can largely be made ahead. This fit the bill, since I was able to make the soffrito during Nora’s nap time, and everything else came together in just a few minutes at dinnertime.
Everyone loved it, especially the hubby, who couldn’t stop raving. Good thing there was enough for leftovers the next day! I served it with a salad, which included the very first baby kale from our garden, and the ragout included some of our Sun Gold tomatoes. Just about nothing makes me happier than using the fruits of our labor in the backyard garden in our meals!
White Bean Ragout with Toast
Adapted from a recipe published in Bon Appétit, May 2012
3 small onions, peeled and quartered
1 large or 2 small sweet peppers, stemmed, halved and seeded
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, divided
2 tsp tomato paste
4-6 1″-thick slices ciabatta or rustic Italian bread
8-10 Tbs finely grated Parmesan, divided
2 15-oz cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
3 cups vegetable stock
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 Tbs chopped flat-leaf parsley
Pulse the onions in a food processor until finely chopped but not puréed. Transfer to a medium bowl. Pulse the sweet peppers in the food processor until finely chopped but not puréed. Add the peppers to the bowl with the onions and mix well.
Heat the olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the onion mixture and season with salt and pepper. Simmer, stirring often, until the vegetables are completely softened, about 30 minutes. Mince or press 3 cloves of the garlic and add it and the tomato paste to the pan. Cook, stirring often, until tomato paste begins to turn deep red, about 3 minutes. Remove the soffritto from the heat and let cool completely, uncovered. Cover and store in refrigerator for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°. Cut the remaining garlic clove in half and rub the bread slices with the cut sides. Sprinkle each slice of bread with Parmesan and place on the oven rack to toast, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
Heat the soffritto and beans in same skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring often, until heated through, about 1 minute. Stir in the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Simmer, scraping up any browned bits, until the liquid is slightly thickened, 3-4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and simmer until tender, 3-4 minutes. Stir in 2 Tbs Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper.
Divide the bread slices among bowls. Top with a generous scoop of the bean mixture and broth. Garnish with Parmesan and parsley.