Saturday, January 17, 2009

White Bean and Fried Sage Crostini

It is always hard to find appetizers that are seasonal, delicious and bite size. I love the white bean crostinis at Otto, Mario Batali’s pizza place in New York. They are drizzled with olive oil and hot pepper flakes. I used to only go to Otto’s on Tuesday, because that’s the only day they have them. So, I decided to make my own. I used Rancho Gordo beans. They are the most fabulous beans and honestly, if you try them, you will never want to eat a canned bean again. Yeah, they take a little bit of work, you have to soak them for hours and them cook them for another hour or so. But your hard work pays off. I think when people realize the versatility and diversity of legumes; they will be bean lovers for life. My boyfriend has become one, and it makes me really proud.
To honor these delicious white beans, I like to keep it simple to really taste the creamy interior. I mashed them up slightly with garlic and garlic oil, as well as the oil the sage was fried in, topped with crispy fried sage and hot pepper flakes, just like Otto’s. Serve them on the finest slice baguette you can find, quickly toasted. (I like Acme bread in San Francisco; you can’t beat it.) This makes such a perfect nibble before dinner. And with leftover beans, you can make salads or soups.

I didn’t really measure, but I will do my best. You can use cannellini, butter beans or navy beans, any white bean will due.
1. Soak a bag of beans in water, at least 2 hours. But this depends on freshness. If the beans are relatively fresh they only need to soak 2 hours, if not, they need longer. If you don’t have dried beans, skip to step 3.
2. Strain the beans and put into a stockpot, cover with water, add 2-3 garlic cloves, some black peppercorns and bay leafs. Do not add salt during cooking, this toughens the beans up and they will take much longer to cook. Simmer beans uncovered (this allows the gas to release – so you don’t later) until tender. Add salt when beans are tender. And drain the beans.
3. In a small pan, add garlic cloves and oil and do not let them brown. Cook until soft. Pour the oil and garlic and mash with white beans.
4. Fry sage in a small sauté pan with olive oil. Remove when crisp and drain on paper towel. Season with salt when removed from oil. They should be crisp and have turned a darker green. Add oil from cooking sage to mash the beans. Mash the beans, but keep some whole, you want to see some shape and keep their integrity. Season with salt and pepper as desired.
5. Slice baguette, brush with olive oil and toast in a 400 degree oven. Bake until golden brown.
6. Place bean mixture on top of baguette, sprinkle with red chili flakes and top with fried sage.

If you like a smoother mixture, puree in a blender. And for an added kick, drizzle aged balsamic before adding the fried sage.

Rancho Gordo Beans
Farmer's Market at the Ferry Building (San Francisco)


Elra said...

I have made this before, but mine didn't have any sage in it. I will definitely make it again with fried sage.

Grace said...

what a terrific appetizer! frankly, i'll devour white beans however they're offered to me, even tossed into some brownies for dessert. :)

Jessica@Foodmayhem said...

Can you bring me some Rancho Gordo beans? I want to try your recipe!

Manger La Ville said...

Grace: that is hilarious. My boyfriend is the same way
Jessica: I would be happy to bring you some. You can also order them online at the site, which I provided on the post.

Heather said...

mmm. i love white beans, too. i can never understand how some people don't love beans. they're just delicious. these sound so good with the sage!

Emily said...

That white bean and sage combo sounds killer. I love sage.

I'm jealous that you get to eat at Mario's restaurant quite frequently. If I lived in New York, I'd do the same.

I've never cooked beans before. :/

Dee said...

I love beans, and oddly, so does my 5 year old. Thanks for the uncovered pot tip - I didn't know that.

Anonymous said...

I agree, Rancho Gordo have the ultimate bean! Have you seen the ones that look like black and white cows?

Love, love white bean crostinis. I drizzle a little bit of fresh white truffle oil on mine. :-)

Anonymous said...

It sure looks delicious. I liked your alternatives about dried versus canned beans. I heard that some dried beans are on the store self for more than a year sometimes.So it is very important to know your source of the dried beans. I heard the fresher the dried bean the better. Farmer's markets are a pretty good source. Keep up the great recipes. They all look yummy.

Lori Lynn said...

Oh, you have two of my favorites here - Rancho Gordo beans and fried sage! Love it!
P.S. Made some RG Christmas Limas recently, and they taste like chestnuts.

Jessica@Foodmayhem said...

Id like to order some....which beans are your favorites? They have a few sampler sets...what do you think of those?

Manger La Ville said...

Zen Chef: what a great idea with the truffle oil. Do you have a good brand to recommend?
Lynn: The Christmas Limas tasted like chestnuts!!! I have to get some. Their beans are incredible.

Manger La Ville said...

Jessica: I looked at the sampler sets. I think the Desert Island looks pretty good. It comes with just beans, and I love the cranberry and midnight black, plus I know Zen Chef loves the black and white one that comes in the pack. Or just order not in a sample set, the pintos are great, plus any of the white beans. You really can't go wrong.

MrOrph said...

I like this with the sage.

Just ordered another round of RGs. Got some giant Christmas limas this time. Wonder if my wife will call them butter beans despite the label have "lima" in it. :-)

Kevin said...

I have been enjoying beans a lot lately and this looks like another nice way to serve them!

Anonymous said...

I think Urbani white truffle oil is probably one of the best commercial brands. The best thing is to get your hands on white truffle scraps and infuse a good olive oil with them.

Manger La Ville said...

Zen Chef: thanks for the tips. I can't wait to purchase some.

Sophie said... simple yet with good ingredients!!!