Makes 8 servings
2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, diced
1 large or 2 regular carrots, diced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper or red pepper flakes
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup (60 ml) dry white or red wine (optional)
4 ounces (115 grams) curly kale leaves, chopped or torn
2 1/4 cups (550 grams) crushed tomatoes (28-ounce or 800-gram can minus 1 cup; reserve the rest for another use)
1 pound (455 grams) cooked firm-tender giant white beans
Up to 3/4 cup (175 ml) vegetable broth
1/2 pound (225 grams) mozzarella, coarsely grated
1/3 cup (35 grams) grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons (5 grams) roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish (optional)
Heat the oven to 475 degrees. In a 2 1/2-to-3-quart (ideally oven-safe) deep saute pan, braiser, or shallow Dutch oven, heat the olive oil on medium-high. Add onion, celery, and carrots.
Season well with salt and black or red pepper. Cook, sauteing, until vegetables brown lightly, 10 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook for 1 minute more. Add the wine, if using, to scrape any stuck bits, then simmer until it disappears, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the kale, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until collapsed, then add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Add the beans, and, if the mixture looks too dry or thick (canned tomatoes range quite a bit in juiciness), add up to 3/4 cup broth, 1/4 cup at a time. Simmer the mixture together over medium for about 10 minutes, adjusting the seasonings as needed. If your pan isn’t ovenproof, transfer the mixture to a 3-quart baking dish. If it is, well, carry on.
Sprinkle the beans first with the mozzarella, then the Parmesan, and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until browned on top. If you’re impatient and want a deeper colour, you can run it under the broiler. Finish with parsley, if desired.
These beans are called fagioli corona (in Italy), gigante/gigandes (in Greece), Royal Corona (by Rancho Gordo, where I ordered mine), and other names. For a meaty variation, brown some fresh sweet or spicy Italian sausages (about 3/4 pound or 340 grams) with the vegetables.
Bean cooking tip
This recipe was originally designed as a long oven-braise that began with dried beans. I recommend you cook your beans in advance. Because they’re very big, I usually soak them for 12 to 24 hours in salted water, then simmer them for a couple hours; you could also use a slow cooker on high (usually 4 to 6 hours, but it will vary), or a pressure cooker (about 20 minutes, with variance), or bake them in the oven at 325 degrees for approximately 70 to 90 minutes after bringing them to a simmer on the stove.
Excerpted from Smitten Kitchen Every Day by Deb Perelman. Text and photographs copyright © 2017 Deb Perelman. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.