Improvised White Beans with Herbs in Tomato Sauce

I woke up inspired to cook, but not to go to the grocery store.  Yesterday I spent a little over ten hours at my friend Lori’s house eating finger foods, drinking cocktails and talking trash.  Today, I’m craving a big bowl of something. 

Dried white beans go in the pot with a small onion, a carrot, six big garlic cloves, some parsley, some rosemary, thyme, sage and a few small fresh bay leaves.  It’s definitely nice to have herbs growing in the back yard.  If I went and bought all those fresh herbs it would cost a ton and I’d never use that much cut herb before it went south.

So, now the beans are cooking.  That’ll take a while.  I’m going to crank them up pretty seriously to get them to cook faster.  I just have to keep an eye on them so they don’t scorch.  The broth should be flavorful.  I’m going to try not to add any additional water, if possible, and let this bean juice cook down.

Now, the tomato sauce.  The recipe that I’m basing this dish on can be found on Epicurious.  I don’t really feel like following instructions today, though.  Improvising instead.  These beans and some sausages will go well with a really cold beer in a couple of hours.  But, hell… why wait?  I might as well have a beer while I cook, right?  It’ll keep my appetite at bay while the beans simmer.

Like I said, now the sauce.

Starting with an onion, medium dice, sauted in olive oil.  I don’t have any bacon or pancetta.  So, a handful of ground pork is going into the pot to give the dish a little fat and a bit of a meaty flavor. 

I sauted four cloves of garlic, sliced paper thin, with the onion and pork.  In goes a big can of diced tomatoes (drained), a regular sized can of crushed tomatoes and a small can of tomato sauce, a handful of basil leaves, crushed red pepper, salt and a little freshly ground black pepper.  I want this sauce to be pretty thick.  I’m planning to add some of the bean juice to it later, along with the beans.

Well, now it’s just a matter of waiting and stirring.  It sure is smelling good.

I didn’t have to wait long.  Shortly after the tomato sauce was starting to simmer, the beans tested to be al dente.  I didn’t want the beans to be overdone and the tomato sauce needed to go a little longer.  So, the beans went into another pot.  I left the bean juice to simmer a little more and reduce.  This is what you get when you make it up as you go… every pot in the house might end up dirty! 

When the sauce looked good, it went into the pot with the beans.  A little bean juice was added to make it thin enough to finish cooking the beans.  More simmering and stirring.  I think we’re going to be in business here soon.  That broth from the beans would make a nice soup base.  I’ll freeze it once it cools.

Looks pretty good, huh?  Too bad those venison sausages aren’t thawed yet!  Just another hazard of improvisation versus actual planning.  A big bowl of herb flavored beans in tomato sauce sounds delicious without the sausages right now.  Maybe grate a little Parmesan cheese over the bowl…  yep.

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5 responses to “Improvised White Beans with Herbs in Tomato Sauce

  1. I love cooking from the pantry. Those beans look great! Very comforting.

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  2. Amazing-looks just like what we had over and over in Italy!

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  3. Yum, want me some.

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  4. Looks wonderful, Margie. I’m sure the fresh herbs make all the difference. Are you going to call them Simon and Garfunkel’s beans because of the herbs you used? (Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme?)

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  5. foodgeekblogthing

    Margie, that sounds incredible! I admit I’m jealous of your herb garden. I keep seeing those upside-down growy things and getting ideas.

    I love a good improv. Kudos!

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