As elegant as this dinner will appear at your table and as delicious as the triple layers of textures and flavours will disappear into your mouth, this recipe is actually very simple and makes an entire meal alongside a simple green salad or some steamed vegetables. The best part is that the drained cooking liquid from the beans makes an astonishingly tasty stock for cooking up a very easy and delicious Kale Soup the next day.
Cannellini bean sauce and herbed tomato sauce over carrot rice
1 cup dried cannellini, or white kidney, beans
4 cups water
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 green cardamom pods, slightly crushed
4 dried hot red chilies
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
4 medium tomatoes, diced
1 hot green chili, seeded and minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon maple syrup
2 tablespoons olive oil
fresh ground black pepper
1 cup basmati rice
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 large carrot, shredded
2 cups water
Rinse the cannellini beans and soak overnight in 4 cups of water in a bowl with a little yogurt whey or lemon juice added.
Before cooking, rinse the rice and let air-dry in a fine-meshed strainer.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onions and garlic, and stir-fry for 10 minutes or until the onions are soft and translucent. Toss in the cumin seeds, cardamom pods, dried chilies and bay leaf, and sauté for another minute or until the cumin seeds have browned. Pour in the beans with their soaking liquid, add the vegetable stock, and turn up the heat to bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the beans are plump and soft. Remove from heat and stir in the salt, tasting for seasoning.
While the beans are simmering, combine all the tomato ingredients, including the oil, in a frying pan. Bring to medium heat and fry, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are reduced to a thick sauce, like a pasta sauce, about 30 minutes. Season with fresh ground black pepper, and keep warm over low heat.
When the beans are finished cooking, prepare the rice by heating 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Toss in the shredded carrot, and sauté for a minute or two, turning over to coat the carrot with oil. Pour in the water and bring to a boil. Immediately add the rice, stir once, then reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook undisturbed for 15 minutes, until the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork.
Meanwhile, finish the bean sauce by removing the cardamom pods, chilies and bay leaf, and draining the beans while reserving the cooking liquid. In a large bowl or in the saucepan, mash the beans with a potato masher until creamy but still lumpy (do not feel that you need to mash all the beans). Add 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking liquid, and stir in fresh ground black pepper and the parsley. Save the rest of the cooking liquid — about 2 cups — as stock for soups.
To serve, spoon plenty of the rice onto a plate, top with a generous ladle of the bean sauce, and cover with a spoonful of the tomato sauce. Serves 4.