Autumn has arrived, sort of. One day it’s rainy, the next sunny. It’s too cold for t-shirts, but not cold enough for sweaters. Such is the schizophrenic nature of the weather in California. If it were honestly cold in these parts, a hot bowl of fresh beans would be the perfect vehicle for taking the bite off the chill. But alas, a dish such as Boston baked beans is simply overkill. What to do?
Cook the last of the summer tomatoes with the first of the autumn beans. Throw in some sharp goat cheese to spike the sweetness of the tomatoes, and a handful of greens for color and contrasting texture. The result is a warming, yet light stew, alive with both delicate and strong flavors.
I used the remainder of a local bucheron I found at the bottom of the cheese section in the fridge. Bucherons harden with age, and their flavor sharpens dramatically. As is usually the case, I just used whatever I happened to have on hand. You could use another goat cheese, good old parmigiano reggiano, or VÃ¤sterbotten, if you’re so inclined.
cranberry bean stew
1 c shelled cranberry or other large, fresh beans
water to cover
4 sprigs fresh thyme
5 small tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled
about 3-4 oz. of a hard goat cheese, or other strong-flavored cheese, chopped or grated
handful of fresh spinach, chopped into coarse ribbons
- Place the shelled beans in a small pot or saucepan and cover with water. Add the thyme sprigs and bring to the boil.
- When the water has boiled, adjust the flame to a low simmer and cover the pot. Simmer until beans are tender but still al dente.
- Remove thyme sprigs and drain excess water. Place pot on a low flame, and pour in some olive oil, about half a tablespoon.
- Add about half of the chopped tomatoes to the pot and stir.
- Crush the garlic into the pot, season to taste with salt and pepper, and stir.
- Add the cheese and stir.
- Cover the pot and simmer, stirring occasionally.
- When the tomatoes have melted down into a sauce, add the remaining tomatoes. Cover and simmer to soften the tomatoes slightly.
- Add the spinach ribbons and stir. Taste and correct seasonings, then turn off the flame.
- Serve with a drizzle of olive oil.