Reader, I Blush

I am abject. I am not the kind to up and disappear. So where the hell have I been? Finishing the manuscript of Feeding the Hungry Ghost, my book due out in January. It has required a fair amount of care and feeding, itself. But it has introduced me to so many wonderful people (and you know who you are).

Then there’s all that life stuff. So I’m just writing this sort of postcard to say howdy, please stick with me and eat beautiful food and take good care of yourself. More soon. Love now.

Farmers Market Escarole With Cranberry Beans

This dish is a delight but it’s barely a recipe, just a handful of inspiring ingredients fresh from my local farmer. Feel free to substitute kale or other leafy greens for escarole. You can use canned beans, adding them at the end as I’ve indicated, but fresh ones are terrific, firm but with a creamier texture than canned. I fell in love with these fresh cranberry beans — they’re pretty, organic, local and free of genetic modification.

You can make this recipe a bigger deal by tossing it with pasta or any whole grain or dollop it on slices of crusty bread for a gusty bruschetta. Top with grated Parmesan or vegan mozzarella.

1 pound fresh cranberry beans or 1 15-ounce can white beans of your choice, such as cannellini
6 cloves garlic, divided use
1 dried red pepper, crumbled, or a pinch of red pepper flakes
handful of fresh sage leaves
1 head escarole, sliced into thin ribbons
2 tablespoons olive oil
juice of 2 lemons
sea salt and pepper to taste

To cook fresh beans, bring a medium pot of water to boil. Shell fresh beans (take them out of their lovely pink and white pods). Add them to the water, along with 3 of the garlic cloves, the dried pepper and sage leaves. Do not salt water, this toughens the beans. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer beans for 45 minutes or until tender.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Mince remaining 3 garlic cloves and add to skillet. Give them a stir and cook until they soften and sizzle, about 5 minutes. Add ribbons of escarole. Cook, stirring, for another five minutes, until escarole wilts but is still jade green. Squeeze in lemon juice.

Drain beans, whether fresh or canned, and tip them in. Toss the beans and greens together and season with sea salt and pepper.

Serves 4 to 6.

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