Thursday, February 5, 2009

Snowcap Beans with Stewed Tomatoes and Oregano Pesto

Sometimes it’s fun to start with an ingredient and then figure out what to do with it (rather than starting with a recipe and gathering the ingredients). Last week I was looking through the dried bean and rice options at the grocery store to see what was available. I found some pretty, two-toned snowcap beans and was compelled to bring them home. I had no particular plan for their use and set about choosing a way to serve them. A little searching brought me to the Rancho Gordo article in the November issue of Food and Wine which included a recipe for giant lima beans with stewed tomatoes and oregano pesto. I hoped that it would work well enough with snowcaps instead of giant limas and gave it a whirl.

I must have been caught up in the actual preparation of this dish because I completely forgot to grab the camera and get a shot of the beans in dried form or after the initial cooking. Good job. You can see what they look like here. They’re nice looking, light brown beans with a snowy white side. They retained their colors after the initial cooking, but once they baked in the stewed tomatoes, the colors were muddied. I wasn’t able to find any other information about them like where they originated, so they’re a slightly mysterious type of bean. They’re bigger than pintos but not as big as giant limas. Their taste is mild like cannellinis, but they seemed firmer in texture. They were delicious in this dish, but next time I’ll use them in a way that preserves their colors.

So, how was this made? Well, there’s a good amount of cooking time required, and splitting the tasks between two days is a good idea. On day one, I cooked the soaked beans and simmered the stewed tomatoes. Onion and garlic were cooked in a saucepan until softened, and then canned whole tomatoes and chopped, fresh oregano were added. This was left to simmer for an hour. Also on day one, I made the pesto which included olive oil, oregano, parsley, and garlic. On day two, the beans and stewed tomatoes were combined and baked for 45 minutes. This is the point at which I strayed from the instructions. Feta cheese was supposed to have been added on top of the beans while they baked. I was feeling like I wanted little, cold cheese sprinkles rather than warm, melty blobs, so I waited until the beans were plated to add cheese. Course breadcrumbs were toasted in olive oil and used as a topping with the pesto.

I enjoyed this as a vegetarian main course with grilled bread with sauteed shitakes on the side. Kurt chose to make it a side dish with a steak. The breadcrumbs added nice crunch, the pesto brightened it all up with its herby, garliciness, the feta sprinkles were creamy and rich, and the long-cooked beans were tender and full-flavored. It takes some planning and patience, but once all the components come together, you’ll have a delicious dish that can be a main course or a side that is definitely worth it.



14 comments:

  1. It looks so appetizing!! Yum yum:)!!

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  2. oo, oregano pesto sounds yummy with the veggies!

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  3. looks good...they dont have that raw peanut blackeyed pea flavor do they - like some beans do (roman beans for example) - I just cant get wrapped around that one-but oregano pesto I can get wrapped around!

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  4. Sophie-- Thanks! It was a really filling meal.

    5star-- The pesto adds so much flavor. Having each element together made the dish really interesting.

    doggy-- The flavor was really, very mild. They didn't have the blackeyed pea flavor at all. I'd say they were closest in flavor to cannellinis.

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  5. That looks so healthy and flavorful. Love the shiitakes on toast too!

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  6. Those beans look good! I have been wanting to try the stewed giant lima beans dish for a while. I will have to keep an eye out for the snowcap beans.

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  7. I'm a big fan of the whole buying an ingredient then figuring it all out later approach too, especially in summer when the farmers market is in full swing. Your beans turned out beautifully!

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  8. Rancho Gordo has THE best beans. I was never a bean fanatic before I tried their varieties. Sure, I'd eat beans, but they were never exciting to me. Thanks to Rancho Gordo, though, I have a whole new respect for beans.

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  9. These look fantastic and so filling :)

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  10. The oregano pesto is the best part. Love variations on pesto.

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  11. i've truly never seen such a fabulous and fantastic bean dish. period. snowcap beans are new to me but sound great, and tossing breadcrumbs on top of all the goodness already on the plate is phenomenal. :)

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  12. Freestyle cooking is my favorite way to make beans. Looks yummy!

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  13. They are the most beautiful bean I have seen before...I too (can't guess can you) go and buy ingredients and then make the menu around it all. Love to play that way...

    Yours look great with what you have paired with...nice.

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  14. Those beans look delicious. I make a 3 bean casserole mostly in the summer for barbecues. It calls for Butter Beans which are those huge limas I think. It is so delicious. I am going to have to try your creation. Yum.

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