I became an expert at making this dish in my first years in Rome when my pocketbook was nearly always empty (no complaints on my side, I was a bartender thousands of miles away from the traditional life everybody expected of me and couldn’t have been happier) and when my curiosity to experiment with the marvels of Italian ingredients was always full. At the time we had a pressure cooker in the apartment that I shared with anywhere from 4 to 8 other (mostly French) foreigners at any given time depending on who had fallen in love or who had visitors in town. With the pressure cooker I made the cannellini starting with dried beans that I soaked overnight. Naturally, using dried beans and cooking them for hours is definitely optimal, but I have found that using a good can or even better, a glass jar of store-bought cannellini is still quite good, much much quicker and far easier. Once atop a piece of good crusty and toasted garlic-rubbed ciabatta bread and doused with some fruity extra virgin olive oil, any guests you invite to share them will never know how much you didn’t slave in the kitchen. I usually serve it as an appetizer but this dish, even just the rosemary cannellini without the bread, also makes a wonderful side for a grilled steak and green salad.
for 3-4 people
(Vigor Triggers: To read Health Benefits of each ingredient, click on it)
1 can cannellini beans*, drained
2 whole garlic cloves smashed with side of knife + 1 whole garlic clove to rub on bread
2-3 small branches of rosemary (a total of 7 inches or so)
Light a medium flame under a heavy skillet for several minutes.
Add olive oil to coat the bottom, the dash of red pepper flakes, the shallots, and the two smashed cloves of garlic, making sure the garlic never burns or gets too brown.
Once the garlic and the shallots are translucent, a couple minutes, add the rosemary and tomato and mix around to coat them well in the oil and juices.
Add the drained cannellini, a healthy sprinkling of salt and a few generous grinds of the pepper mill.
Mix gently and regularly to make sure beans do not stick to the bottom. They will be done when tomatoes look cooked, most juices have evaporated and the beans are hot and taste good to you.
Adjust seasoning accordingly.
In the meantime, toast the bread in the oven on broil, turning the pieces until they just begin to brown on each side. With the last garlic clove, rub one side of each slice of bread - no need to over do it - and top with beans.
Plate the crostini and liberally drizzle olive oil on top. Serve and eat!
(Watch video on how to choose the best olive oil.)
*My favorite brand of canned cannellini is Carmelina Brands which comes in a bright yellow can. I find it at Whole Foods. I have to say that I was disappointed with the Trader Joes brand cannellini because they weren’t quite tender and creamy enough.
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