This is a bowl brimming with the fresh clear tastes of Spring. Sticks of carrots, slivers of garlic, handfuls of baby spinach, all married with the earthy meatiness of white beans and the citrus scent of fresh bay leaves.
Easy made ahead, this dish is good at room temperature or reheated.
Cook to Cook: Fresh bay leaves are a beast unto themselves, with little connection to their dried counterparts. Seek them out. They freeze brilliantly, show up sporadically in markets and for gardeners, they grow easily in a pot.
When you hit the jackpot with a big bunch, pack them around a butterflied chicken, chill it overnight and then roast the bird in the bay leaves. Dreamy.
2 cups vegetable broth
4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into thick 3-inch-long matchsticks
8 garlic cloves, thin sliced
2 fresh bay leaves, bruised
1 15-ounce can Cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained
3 cups fresh baby spinach, washed
Salt and fresh-ground black pepper
1 lemon, halved
1/4 cup fresh-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 to 2 tablespoons good tasting extra-virgin olive oil
1. In a 6-quart pot with a tight-fitting cover, combine the broth, carrots, garlic, and the bay leaves. Bring to a simmer, cover, reduce heat and cook 8 to 10 minutes, or until the carrots are tender.
2. Add the beans, spinach, salt, and pepper, and stir to wilt the spinach into the stew. Cover and cook an additional 5 minutes until the spinach is wilted and the beans are heated through.
3. Squeeze the juice of one lemon into the pot and serve the stew with drizzles of olive oil and grated Parmigiano.
From The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift, Clarkson Potter, 2008.
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