Cannellini Beans, Roasted Tomatoes and Cipollini Onions (With Optional Egg On Top)

A round white bowl on a red background filled with cannellini beans, roasted tomatoes and pearl onions, a thick gravy, and topped with a crisp egg and crostini.

I know, I know. I really, truly know. “Put an egg on it!” has become the mantra of millennial home cooks everywhere (hey, we had to eventually move past putting a bird on it, okay?). Leftover pizza? Put an egg on it! (Actually do this, it’s really good). Have some plain, cooked oats kicking around? Honestly, put an egg on it. This thick, ultra-savoury cannellini bean, tomato, and cipollini onion concoction? Definitely put an egg on it. I first started making this recipe (courtesy of my much-used and very dog-eared copy of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook) near the beginning of the summer. One evening, a few hours before hosting a dinner party that hadn’t gotten out of the planning stages yet (as my dinner parties are wont to do), I revisited this gorgeous little recipe. As expected, the recipe was simple to prepare and a huge hit with my guests (thanks, Deb!). Over the course of the summer I’ve done some tinkering with the recipe, nothing too over-the-top, but a few subtle changes have been made. I like to add a good glug of white vermouth or a super-dry white wine, I think it enhances the bright flavours of the tomatoes and adds complexity to the earthy cannellini beans and cipollini onions. I also like to add several sprigs of fresh thyme and oregano, I just leave them whole and remove the woody sprigs before serving. And speaking of serving, I like this dish best when it’s piled into a large, shallow serving bowl and accompanied by olive oil-brushed, thinly sliced crostini. The egg is used to revive any leftovers, although the way this lovely stew-like concoction disappears when placed in front of guests leaves me with no choice but to recommend a) sneakily hiding some away right in the back of your fridge off the bat or b) doubling the recipe.

cannellini beans, roasted tomatoes and cipollini onions (with optional egg on top):

1 bag (or 1 lb.) cipollini onions

1 15-ounce tin cannellini beans, drained

1 1/2 lb. tomatoes (Roma, cherry, heirloom, whatever you’ve got!)

1 head of garlic, left whole but with the top part cut off so that the cloves are just visible

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup white vermouth or dry white wine

1 Tbsp. sugar*

Kosher or sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste

A few sprigs each of fresh thyme and oregano

Olive oil-brushed crostini

Eggs

*If using fabulous, in-season tomatoes you may not need the sugar.

  1. Prepare the cipollini onions by boiling a large pot of water. Slice off the tips of the onions and plunge them into the boiling water. Boil for 1 minute and then drain, rinsing the onions with cool water so that you can handle them without burning yourself. When they’re cool enough to handle, slip the cipollini peppers out of their skins and set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  3. On a large, rimmed backing sheet or roasting pan, spread the tomatoes (leave whole and pierce with a sharp knife if they’re quite small or halve if using large tomatoes). Add the cipollini onions, cannelini beans, and the head of garlic (leave intact while roasting).
  4. Generously coat the vegetables and beans with the olive oil, white vermouth or white wine, and sugar, using your hands to make sure the ingredients are thoroughly covered. Season generously with salt and pepper, topping with the fresh herbs.
  5. Roast everything for about an hour, using a spatula or wooden spoon to stir every 20 minutes or so. The ingredients should be blackened in spots and fork-tender, meltingly soft. The pan juices are what makes this dish, so be sure to save them.
  6. Remove the baking sheet or roasting pan from the oven and let the contents come to room temperature. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of its skin and mix in with the other ingredients. Stir in the cannellini beans and allow to sit until the mixture comes to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Serve the roasted vegetables and beans piled onto a serving bowl with thinly-sliced crostini.
  7. Reheat the next day and add a crispy or poached egg, the yolk should be soft enough that it thickens the leftover tomato sauce as they melt together.

This song is tight as a wire, epic in scope, and vibrating with gigantic, bursting emotion. Interestingly, Perfume Genius is one of the few bands with vocals I can listen to when I’m writing (I usually find lyrics too distracting when I work). And of course, when I’m cooking (which is often part of work, anyway). If Perfume Genius is new to you (in which case I’m very jealous you can hear everything for the time), think PJ Harvey, Tori Amos, Wild Beasts, Kate Bush, and a tiny hint of Hawksley Workman without his annoying Canadian celebrity bravado.

Perfume Genius – Slip Away

 

Roasted Green Beans and Broccolini On a Bed of Ricotta

Roasted Green Beans and Broccolini On a Bed of Ricotta

It’s terribly difficult being a food writer who specializes in cheese. I mean, what are you supposed to do when you have copious amounts of ricotta leftover from a photo shoot? Well, in my case, I happily ate fresh strawberries, honey, and ricotta for breakfast and spread it on thick slices of olive bread with slices of tomato and a generous application of Maldon salt and freshly cracked pepper. Despite all my best efforts I still had an impressive amount of ricotta to use before it went bad (once opened, ricotta only keeps for 3-4 days before it starts to smell sour.) I was on the lookout for ricotta recipes that a) weren’t stuffed pasta and b) weren’t dessert (because I’m not a very dessert-y person.) Eventually I found this intriguing recipe for charred green beans with ricotta and lemon on Epicurius and felt inspired by the elegant simplicity of the recipe. The first time I tried this recipe (and with great success, I might add) I followed the instructions to a T and yes, it was just as gorgeous and delicious as I’d hoped. However, me being me, I wanted to fiddle around with the basics and create my own riff on this already brilliant idea (this sort of creative license is why I’m a disastrous baker.) Lo and behold, this recipe for roasted green beans and broccolini on a bed of ricotta was born. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t have a grill to fall back on but if I did I would be using it for this recipe – the slightly charred green beans and broccolini add a sweet and nutty flavour which complements the light creaminess of the ricotta*. Fortunately, a hot oven can mostly replicate this effect (albeit, without any aesthetically pleasing grill marks.) Don’t skip roasting the lemons with the green beans and broccolini, they won’t get those beautiful char marks food stylists strive for but the moderately high heat results in fat wedges of lemon with meltingly tender, almost buttery pulp. The quantities called for are open to interpretation, you can use more or less of everything depending on how many servings you need.

Ricotta

*A note on ricotta: Buy the best, full-fat ricotta you can find (remember, this doesn’t necessarily mean the most expensive ricotta you can find.) If you’re in Canada and you can find Quality Food’s Canadian Cheese Grand Prix-winning ricotta I’d highly recommend this particular brand. Another tasty option is sheep’s milk ricotta (if you can’t find it at the grocery store check out your local cheese shop or farmer’s market.) Sheep’s milk ricotta has a light, milky taste and is generally well-tolerated by people who suffer from lactose intolerances or allergies.

roasted green beans and broccolini on a bed of ricotta:

1 lb. green beans, tipped and tailed

1 lb. broccolini

2 Tbsp. + 1 Tbsp. olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly cracked pepper

2-3 lemons, halved

1 – 1 1/2 cups full-fat ricotta

Dried red chili flakes

Fresh parsley and basil, roughly chopped/torn

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°.
  2. Line 1-2 baking sheets (depending on their size) with parchment paper or a Silpat.
  3. Spread the green beans, broccolini and lemon halves (pulp side down) across the baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, gently massaging it into the vegetables. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  4. Roast the vegetables for 30-40 minutes, stirring everything two or three times as it cooks. If the green beans and broccolini look like they’re cooking in a shorter amount of time reduce the heat to 350°.
  5. While the vegetables are roasting, spread a generous layer of ricotta across the bottom of a large serving platter (or a smaller one, depending on the number of servings you end up with.)
  6. Remove the roasted vegetables from the oven and loosely pile across the surface of the ricotta, drizzling with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and any juices that may have accumulated in the baking sheet.
  7. Finish the dish by slicing the lemon halves into smaller wedges, nestling them into the ricotta with the vegetables. Sprinkle the dried chilies, fresh basil, and parsley over top before serving.

Roasted Green Beans and Broccolini On a Bed of Ricotta 2

When I was a little kid I was obsessed with Tina Turner (and Lionel Richie, but that’s another story.) I used to wear my leotard from ballet lessons and make up dances to every single song on Tina Turner’s Simply the Best album in my room with the door closed. I’m pretty sure I wore out the tape from overuse, I’d listen to it on my Walkman walking to school, mowing the lawn with a clunky old push mower, and lying in bed at night. I actually hadn’t listened to Tina in a long time, years in fact, but the other day I was trying to do some writing and I felt really stuck and (unsurprisingly) this amazing greatest hits collection saved the day! I’m choosing “Better Be Good To Me” for this post because it has an amazing video involving a werewolf-like man and a song you can strut to.

Tina Turner – Better Be Good To Me

Rotini with Broccoli and Chillies

Bowl of rotini pasta with broccoli, chillies, and parmesan.

I couldn’t tell you why exactly, but I always seem to have a head of broccoli lying around in my fridge. Strong ties to my mom, I suppose, as she always has a head of cabbage in hers. What else do I always have? Dried chillies, garlic, dried pasta, and a big hunk of grating cheese in my crisper. Happily, these are the foundations for making one of my favourite one-pot meals; the only other ingredient needed is vegetable stock (or chicken) and it need only be bouillon cubes or concentrate. I use rotini because it’s got some chewy heft, but really any kind of pasta will work well (including whole wheat or other grain alternative). You can play with the ratio of pasta to broccoli, I personally like having more broccoli than pasta or at least a fairly close approximation. The broccoli is cooked right in with the pasta and then the garlic is quickly sautéed in olive oil while the pasta and broccoli drains in a colander. Make sure that you reserve about a cup of the pasta stock to ensure your finished meal isn’t too dry, this is good practice in general but this recipe definitely suffers without it. If you want to add protein I would highly suggest a can of good quality oil packed tuna, just break it up into larger pieces when combining everything before eating.

rotini with broccoli and chillies:

1 cup of uncooked rotini

2 cups of broccoli, cut into small florets

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 generous Tbsp. olive oil

Lots of freshly cracked pepper

Kosher salt

Vegetable stock

Dried red chillies

Parmigiano-Reggiano OR Grana Padano OR Pecorino Pepato

  1. Fill a large pot with stock and cook the rotini according to package directions. In the last 3 minutes of cooking time add the broccoli. Reserve 1 cup of cooking liquid and drain the pasta and broccoli.
  2. Lower the heat to medium and in the same pot sauté the minced garlic until it’s just beginning to brown and smell super fragrant.
  3. Add the cooked pasta and broccoli, reserved cooking stock, black pepper and kosher salt to taste. Toss to combine and then serve with a generous sprinkling of dried red chillies, extra black pepper, and a heaping amount of Reggiano.

Nothing says me time like a little Tori Amos, soundtrack to the antics of teenager Ashley, twenties Ashley, and now thirties Ashley. Mostly her earlier albums, but what can I say? These are the ones that are perfect to me.

Tori Amos – Winter