Beans and Greens
Source: Jessica Battilana, author, Repertoire
Photo credit: Ed Anderson
This recipe was demonstrated for Foodwise’s Market to Table program on October 13, 2018.
Serves 6 to 8
1 pound dried cannellini or corona beans
1 to 2 tablespoons kosher salt
4 pounds greens, preferably a mix of escarole, broccoli, Swiss chard, spinach, kale, and dandelion greens, stemmed and washed.
1¼ cup olive oil
8 cloves garlic (4 cloves thinly sliced, 4 cloves left whole)
3 oil-packed anchovy fillets.
1-2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
Zest and juice of 1 large lemon
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
Place the dried beans in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot and add cold water to cover several inches. Soak overnight.
The next day, add more water as needed to the pot so the beans are covered by several inches. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer until the beans are tender, about 1½ to 2 hours. Periodically check the water level of the beans; they should be covered by several inches of water through the cooking. Add more boiling water to the pot as needed (I keep a water–filled tea kettle on the adjacent burner, turning it on and topping off the beans as needed). The beans are done when you pull five from the pot and they are tender (as Liza says, if you’re chewing a bean and wondering if it’s cooked enough, it’s not). When the beans are tender, remove them from the heat but don’t drain. Season the cooking water with salt. The exact amount you’ll use will depend on how much cooking liquid is in the pot, so begin with a small amount and continue adding until the liquid taste very well-seasoned, just this side of salty. Let the beans cool in the cooking liquid. The beans can be made up to 2 days in advance; once cool, cover and transfer to the refrigerator. Rewarm over low heat.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt. Set a large ice bath nearby. Working in batches by type of greens, blanch the greens until they wilt and are tender, about 2 minutes (slightly longer for broccoli rabe). Remove from the water with tongs or a spider and transfer to the ice bath. Once cool, transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. When all the greens have been cooked, grab fistfuls of greens and, working over the sink or a bowl, squeeze them to extract the maximum amount of liquid. Transfer the squeezed greens to a cutting board. Repeat until all the greens have been squeezed, then coarsely chop the greens and transfer to a bowl.
In a small frying pan, heat the olive oil with the sliced garlic, the anchovy fillets and 1 teaspoon of the red pepper flakes. Cook over medium-low heat until the garlic begins to sizzle but does not brown, using the back of a spoon to mash up the anchovy fillets to a paste. Remove from the heat, and stir in half the lemon zest, pour the mixture over the greens, and stir to coat.
Return the frying pan to medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the bread crumbs and stir to coat with olive oil. Toast the bread crumbs, stirring, until dark golden brown and crunchy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate and season with salt Set aside.
In a Dutch oven or a heavy pot, heat the remaining olive oil over medium-high heat and add the whole garlic cloves and the remaining teaspoon of red pepper flakes (or less, if you prefer it milder dish). When the garlic begins to sizzle, add half of the cooked beans (but not their cooking liquid) and fry, stirring, until the skins begin to split, about 2 minutes. Add a ladleful of the cooking liquid, increase the heat to high, and cook, stirring, until the liquid begins to boil and a creamy, emulsified sauce forms.
Add the remaining beans and some more cooking liquid; the beans should be quite saucy. Stir in the greens, add more bean cooking liquid as necessary to maintain their sauciness, and cook until the greens are heated through. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining lemon zest and the lemon juice to taste. Season to taste with additional salt (it will probably not need it, since the bean cooking liquid is so well seasoned). Top with the bread crumbs and serve warm.