rosemary-infused navy beans, a la zoës

December 17, 2013 — 11 Comments


This may or may not come as a surprise, but there’s not a lot of good legume quotes out there.

I Googled quotes about beans or legumes and came up with only two (granted, I didn’t spend THAT much time on this little project). JUMP TO RECIPE.

The first was rather sophomoric. You’ve probably heard of it. “ Beans, beans good for your heart, the more you eat the more you fart. The more you fart the better you feel, so eat your beans at every meal.” Told you it was sophomoric! The quote was credited to ‘H.G.G.” and when I Googled him or her, I came up dry. Not that I blame H.G.G. for wanting to stay below the radar on this one.

The second quote I found was certainly true, just like the first one come to think of it. It was also considerably less sophomoric, so much so that it perhaps lacks a bit of zip, if you will, but here it is: “Dinner is often a stew of beans or legumes, which are awesome for dieting; they give you that meaty satisfaction and both are excellent with whole grain rice or bread.” Very true though.

So much for that idea of starting a titillating post on legumes by way of a good quote, though I suppose I worked around it a bit.

Maybe I was looking for a cool quote because I wanted them to sound really exciting. Why? Because they get a bit of a bum rap at times. It’s funny, really, looking at people’s expressions when the topic of beans (legumes) comes up. Either their eyes light up like on Christmas day and they practically start to purr or they begin to look a bit deflated and depressed, like when I learned bagged ‘baby’ carrots weren’t really baby carrots after all but shaved big carrots.

And sure, if you eat them plain, you can’t exactly expect to have a party in your mouth. They’re just like potatoes after all…only as delicious as the ingredients with which you combine them. But with the right mix of ingredients, they are absolutely delicious and satisfying. I have several bean recipes that make my eyes light up. And I’m always looking for new ones.

This last fact is especially poignant because I’ve been known to become recipe-obsessed once or 18 times. Some dish will catch my imagination and it’s so pleasurable to eat that I feel compelled to repeat the experience. Over and over and over again. Until finally one day Erik looks at me, with glazed-over eyes, and passes on whatever it is I’m offering up. Blimey! The nerve!

But that’s my cue. Shoulders and head down in a total defeated stance, I realize I’ve gone one recipe-preparation too far. It’s time to start back-peddling. Thankfully it doesn’t happen too often. Which is probably why I’m still married. But it does happen…

I love this recipe so much that I’ve forced myself not to fall into that rather unattractive, not to mention slightly dysfunctional, trap. So I only make it every so often and the perk of doing that is that it’s met with enthusiasm every time. Weeee! Just a little wisdom goes a long way, folks.

Truth to tell, as the title suggests, I’m not re- creating the wheel on this bean dish, though I would love to take credit.

First, they are the infamous ‘braised white beans’ that you can order any day of the week at Zoës Kitchen. That’s where I first discovered them and fell in love. So much so that I didn’t want to limit myself to eating them only when I went there to have lunch with Erik or a friend. I needed to deconstruct the dish so I could make it at home.

As it turned out, I didn’t need to bother since so many wonderful blogs out there have also worshiped at the altar of the Zoës white braised beans. Here is just a small sampling: Relishing It, Elements of Summer, Style & Treats, and Fired Up Fitness. You all have great taste, and thanks for sharing!

When I am rushed and craving legumes, these rosemary-infused beans satisfy so many of my requirements around savoriness and functionality.

  1. They are absolutely delicious and satisfying.
  2. They make for a perfect light meal when you combine them with olive oil, garlic and sea salt bruschetta and a side of vegetables or salad.
  3. The recipe works really well with canned beans, which I sometimes use when I have not been organized enough to prep dried beans beforehand. I tend to use navy beans for this dish, though, instead of the more Italian canellini beans because I find that they hold their shape better in the canning process. I buy Eden beans, which are really good quality beans, but their canellini often look a little smashed and sad coming out.
  4. Finally, and not unimportantly, they are a cinch to make and require few ingredients.

Rinse and drain 1 29-oz. can of navy beans in a fine mesh sieve or colander. You may need to coax them out of the can. I sometimes do. If so, use a butter knife and gently start working them out by running the knife around the inside periphery of the can. That seems to work pretty well.

In a small sauce pan heat up 2 tablespoons of butter on medium low heat until it stops bubbling, which means that the water content in the butter has evaporated. Then add 1 grated medium-sized yellow or Spanish onion.  Click here for an easy and super fast way to grate onions. You can finely chop or mince the onion but I prefer grating it because it gives the beans, I feel, a better texture. Cook the onion until it is soft and translucent, stirring occasionally.

how onions should look

This may take 12 -15 minutes or so because of the low heat, which may seem like a long time but it’s what will draw the sweetness out of the onions. You can use that time to make yourself a nice drink or, if you’re feeling more responsible, a salad or some sort of vegetable side-dish.

Once the onion is soft and translucent, add 3 garlic cloves through a garlic press and a sprig of fresh rosemary and saute about 30 seconds until you smell the most warming fragrance.

add rosemary

Mix everything around well in the pan.

mix everything around before adding broth

Then add the beans and a 1/2 cup of chicken stock. Stir to combine.

add broth

Raise the heat to medium heat and allow them to simmer for 15 minutes or so, stirring from time to time to prevent the beans from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Taste a bean and a little of the liquid periodically to see whether you need to add a little salt or pepper. I usually don’t have to use any salt because the chicken stock I use tends to be pretty salty, but that all depends on taste and what broth you use.

The beans are done when their sauce is thick enough to coat a spoon. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil on top and give it a good stir and your beans are ready to go.

11 responses to rosemary-infused navy beans, a la zoës


    True, beans can seem mundane but these certainly sound quite tasty, definitely something I want to try!


    Sounds like a wonderful recipe, beans are really so good for you. It’s funny that you were googling bean quotes. The only one I know is the first one you quoted. White or navy beans are great, I love making into soup with greens. My Mom used to make them with either a ham hock or salt pork, very tasty.


    Beautiful close-ups of the cooking action. Little rosemary-infused navy beans, come to Mama.


    I care not a whit for the farting. Not an iota ! Not a skerrick ! – in fact, it always makes me giggle, anyway. [grin] I shall try this TONIGHT. No, tomorrow, because I’m out of cipolle … How typical ! – I actually have rosemary, but no cipolle. Merda.

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