THE WASHINGTON POST – I’m the first one to extol the virtues of a pot of beans slowly cooked from dried – and particularly the rich, starchy, deeply flavoured bean stock that results. (I have been known to call it “liquid gold”, and I stand by that.)
But (you knew there’d be a but, right?) you don’t always have time for that, even with such helpers as the Instant Pot to speed things along.
And when the holidays loom and your cooking pace – not to mention anxiety – starts ramping up, it’s time to remind yourself that there’s also not a thing wrong with opening a can of beans.
They’re one of the world’s great convenience products, right up there with canned tomatoes, and while I have dozens of types of dried beans in my pantry, I always have several cans, too.
Besides, as this recipe from Bri Beaudoin’s Evergreen Kitchen proves, there are ways to get more flavour into canned beans.
By sauteing garlic and shallot with tomato paste and fresh thyme, you give an aromatic, umami-filled base to vegetable broth. Simmer beans briefly in this liquid, stir in a little miso (for more umami) and Swiss chard, drizzle with olive oil, and you’re done.
The result: brothy beans that taste like they took a lot longer to cook than they did.
Especially when I’m so otherwise busy, that makes these beans the stuff of dreams. I eat them over rice, noodles, roasted potatoes – or, best of all, as a stew with crusty bread.
SHORTCUT BROTHY BEANS
Here’s an easy way to get super-flavourful beans and broth without spending so much time cooking them from dried. You infuse canned beans with the flavour of aromatic vegetables plus tomato paste and miso for extra umami.
Quarter cup olive oil, plus more for optional drizzling
Two large shallots, thinly sliced (about one cup)
One tablespoon tomato paste
Five cloves garlic, pressed or finely grated
One tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
Two cups low-sodium vegetable broth
Half teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Quarter teaspoon fine salt
Two cans butter or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Two tablespoons white miso (shiro miso)
Three cups packed chopped Swiss chard or spinach
Lemon wedges, for serving
Grilled crusty bread or focaccia, for serving (optional)
In a Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium heat, heat the olive oil until it shimmers. Add the shallots and tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, until the shallots are soft, about five minutes. Add the garlic and thyme and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about one minute.
Add the broth, pepper and salt, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the flavours meld, about five minutes. Add the beans, stir to combine, cover and cook until they are warmed through, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the miso until fully dissolved. Stir in the Swiss chard. Taste, and season with more salt as needed.
Drizzle the beans with olive oil, if you’d like, and serve them hot with lemon wedges on the side and bread for dipping, if using.