Well, it's another foggy day in Santa Barbara. Us locals aren't surprised...it's all a part of the "June gloom" weather system that takes tourists unawares. After a pretty scorching few weeks in May, though, it's nice to have a chance to pull out cozy, homey recipes again and make up a pot of something warm.
Today I'm making a Tuscan bean stew, inspired by a recipe I found in one of my old issues of Gourmet Magazine. The sage is doing great out my garden just now, so I'm using that today. Though rosemary would be delicious as well. What's nice about this recipe is that you just throw the ingredients together and let them simmer...and at the end of the day you'll have a creamy, satisfying supper, perfect for a foggy day.
Tuscan Bean Stew
1 1/2 cups dried cannellini beans
1 (28 oz.) can of diced tomatoes
1/2 medium onion, chopped finely
1 celery rib, chopped finely
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. sugar
5 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cover beans with water by two inches in a large pot; bring to boil over high heat, then reduce heat and let simmer 2 hours, partly covered. Drain water, then cover again with water and briskly simmer uncovered until beans are very tender, about 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, in another large pot, saute onion, celery, and garlic in olive oil with a pinch of salt and pepper until softened. Add tomatoes, sugar, sage, red pepper flakes, 1 tsp. salt, and 2 cups of cooking water from the pot of beans.
Drain and discard the rest of the bean cooking water, and add the beans to the tomato mixture. Simmer uncovered on low 1 hour or more, to allow the flavors to meld and the stew come to a thicker consistency. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve in warmed bowls with plenty of grated parmigiano and some crusty bread alongside.