Sally relates to beans like no one else I know. I am convinced her last wish will be for a bowl of beans. She's somehow even trained her kids to crave them. She claims, "This recipe is my midweek savior, the kids scarf it directly from the pan."
"I see it as training wheels, a lesson in understanding how the shape and wholeness of a bean can make the dish. I learned this technique for the slow braising of garlic in oil from Lynne. You must be careful not to brown it, but the results are so silky and fragrant, it's well worth the babysitting. I always have a can of good quality organic white beans in the cupboard. Organic beans simply taste better."
Cook to Cook: Handle these beans as gently as you would eggs in their shells; you want to keep them as whole as possible. I use a rubber spatula to fold them together with the other ingredients instead of stirring. Don't be tempted to use a tougher bean like pinto or kidney; their thicker skins keep the beans from drawing in all the flavors.
Serve warm or at room temperature. Holds 2 days in the refrigerator.
1. In a 12-inch skillet or sauté pan over medium heat, toast the breadcrumbs until lightly browned, stirring often. Transfer the crumbs to a small bowl to cool. When cooled, stir in the Parmigiano and pepper. Set aside.
2. In the same pan, slowly warm the garlic in the olive oil over low heat for 30 seconds to a minute. Stir in the rosemary, blending for another minute or so, taking care not to burn the garlic. It should be very fragrant and just beginning to soften.
3. Immediately add the beans and fold in very gently. Turn the heat to medium. Heat the beans through, about 3 minutes, occasionally lifting and turning the beans as they heat through, as stirring will turn them to mush. Add the greens and gently move them around in the pan until they are slightly wilted (30 to 60 seconds). Turn into a serving bowl and top with the breadcrumb mixture.
From How To Eat Supper by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift, 2008, Clarkson Potter.
"[Side dishes] have to be quite dramatic," says Australian author Donna Hay. "They're like the good supporting actors in their roles."