Sunday, September 9, 2012

Notes From Nikki-Runner Beans in Smoky Tomato Sauce over Creamy Polenta and Mock Apple Pie

Scarlet Runner Beans in Smoky Tomato Sauce over Creamy Polenta
I don't know about you, but I am blown away by the bounty of tomatoes in our Inverbrook share this year! My countertop has been stacked with these beautiful garden fruits for weeks and weeks now. And, of course, these aren't your run-of-the-mill, store-bought tomatoes. Each one is gorgeous and unique, and, more importantly, full of complex flavor and character. Even the paste tomatoes! Claire, you are a farming genius!

The following dish was inspired by two alluring ingredients, those handsome tomatoes, and a bag of delightfully giant scarlet runner beans I had stashed in my cabinet. Scarlet runners are a tad smoky by nature, so I decided to go with that and add a bit o' bacon to the tomato reduction. This is optional, of course. You could always smoke things up by using some smoked sea salt instead, or just enjoy the subtle smokiness that is inherent in the beans themselves. I added a bunch of torn kale leaves to the sauce, only because my body was craving greens. This is also optional.

As is true with all the recipes I write, there is a lot of wiggle room in here. Play around with it and make it your own. Taste and adjust, taste and adjust. You can also cut this recipe in half easily. As it stands now it will serve 6-8 very generously.


10-12 medium-large tomatoes, roughly cored and chopped (I used mostly heirloom and slicing tomatoes, but a combo of whatever you have on hand is fine)

1 large yellow onion, chopped

3 large cloves of garlic, smashed and minced

4-6 oz bacon, finely chopped (substitute with a glug of extra virgin olive oil if omitting)

Three sprigs of fresh rosemary

Three sprigs of fresh oregano

1 bunch of kale, stemmed and torn into bite-sized pieces

Dash or two of red chili flakes (optional)

Sea salt

fresh ground pepper

Generous handful or two of fresh basil leaves

Approximately 4 C dried scarlet runner beans

6 C water

2 C polenta (corn grits)

3-4 T butter

A generous splash of milk

2 generous handfuls shredded Parmigiano Reggiano, plus more for topping

1. Cover the beans with water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down just a little so the beans are really cooking, but not vigorously boiling (somewhere between a simmer and a seriously rolling boil). Cover with a lid and let cook until tender. (Mine took an hour because I didn't pre-soak. If you pre-soak for at least an hour, you should be able to cut at least 20 minutes off that time.)

2. While the beans are cooking, in a large, deep skillet, saute the bacon, onions, and garlic over medium heat until the onions begin to caramelize and the bacon starts to crisp up a bit.

3. Stir in the tomatoes and turn up the heat, bringing the mixture to a simmer.

4. Add in the rosemary and oregano sprigs (leave them whole as you will later fish out the stems).

5. Season with sea salt, pepper, and red chili flakes.

6. Allow the mixture to lightly simmer uncovered while the beans continue to cook. The sauce will thicken as it simmers.

7. Once the beans are finished cooking, drain them in a colander and set them aside briefly while you fish the oregano and rosemary stems out of the sauce and stir in the kale.

8. Once all the kale is wilted, turn off the heat and add the basil and beans to the sauce. Mix it all together, cover, and set aside. It will stay nice and hot while you quickly make the polenta.

9. Bring 6 C of water to boil in a medium sauce pan. Add a few pinches of salt, and stir in the polenta.

10. Turn the heat down so the mixture is simmering, and stir occasionally for about five minutes. The mixture should quickly become the consistency of oatmeal. The longer you cook it, the thicker it will get.

11. Turn off the heat and stir in the butter, parm, milk, and some sea salt and pepper. Taste and adjust.

12. Serve the beans atop a large spoonful or two of polenta, and top with shredded parm and some more fresh ground pepper and/or red chili flakes.

 Mock Apple Pie

A friend of mine recently told me that I could make an "apple" pie using zucchini (no apple) and that it would taste just like an apple pie, possibly better. Truth be told, I was only mildly intrigued (more humoring, really). He was pretty convincing in his argument though (he's also a lawyer ;-)), so I thought I'd give it a try one night when I was wondering what to do with the stash of patty pan squash I had accumulated in my crisper from our Inverbrook share. Honestly, I was pretty surprised at how good it turned out. I thought it would be mushy and watery, it wasn't at all. I thought it would lack complexity of flavor, it didn't. I brought it to a Labor Day Weekend potluck, and folks raved about it. You've really gotta give it a try! Yet another outlet for the ever proliferous summer squash. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
Approximately 6 C roughly peeled, seeded (scoop out the seeds and the softer meat that surrounds them), chopped or sliced summer squash (I used patty pan, but any variety will do), par boiled and drained really well

1/2-3/4 C sugar (I used 1/2 C. Many recipes call for 1 whole C, but I don't like things super sweet.)

1/4 C brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp cardamom (allspice works too, although I like cardamom for it's brightness)

1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar

4 T all-purpose flour

pinch of salt

Generous squeeze of lemon

2 prepared piecrust doughs (one for the bottom and one for the top, store bought is fine), rolled out and ready to go

1. Preheat the oven to 350.
2. Toss the drained squash, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, cream of tartar, flour, salt, and lemon together until well combined. The mixture will be a bit watery/juicy. That's okay. The cream of tartar and flour will take care of that as it cooks. Chemistry. ;-)
3. Line a fairly deep, 9" pie pan with one of the pie crusts doughs.
4. Fill the pan with the summer squash filling.
5. Top the pie with the other pie crust dough, fluting the edges with the bottom crust so they stick together.
6. Make 3-4 slits in the top crust.
7. Place the pie pan on a baking sheet (just in case it leaks), and cook in the oven until the top is brown and the filling is nice and bubbly (about 30-40 minutes).
8. If the edges of the pie start to get too brown, cover them with foil (I had to do this).
9. Allow the pie to cool, and then dig in.


Humble Mom said...

I must try the pie!

Anonymous said...

Made this (with a few substitutions) with my friend's crop of scarlet runner beans — a big hit with both families. Photos and my substitutions at:

The leftover bean-tomato made a great quick pizza topping two nights later, with just a little mozzarella sprinkled on top.