Seldom seen in their pods, fresh cannellini beans, available now at Rick Bishop’s Mountain Sweet Berry Farm stand at Union Square, are a rare treat. Insieme and Hearth chef Marco Canora cooks them in the traditional Tuscan way, with black kale and sage, which makes for a delicious bruschetta topping. If you find shelling beans a tedious task, consider the shorter cooking time and the fact that you don’t have to soak these overnight.
Marco Canora’s Cannellini-and-Black-Kale Bruschetta
3 lbs. fresh cannellini beans
1 head garlic, stem end trimmed to expose cloves, plus two cloves, minced
1 small bunch sage
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, minced
pinch of pepperoncini (hot-pepper flakes)
3 bunches black kale, a.k.a. Tuscan kale or cavolo nero (Greenmarket)
black peppercorns, cracked loaf of rustic bread or baguette
(1) Shell beans and rinse in cold water. In a heavy-bottomed pan, put beans, head of garlic, and sage in cold water to cover plus 1 inch or so. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until beans are soft and creamy (about 1 hour), seasoning halfway through with salt. Strain beans, reserving ½ cup of the cooking liquid, and set aside. In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat; add the minced onion, garlic, and pepperoncini; and cook until the onion is translucent, being careful not to burn or brown. (2) Stem and roughly chop the kale and add to the bean cooking liquid. Cover and cook over low heat for 30 minutes. Add beans to kale mixture, mix thoroughly, and cook covered for an additional 15 minutes. (3) Mash the mixture with a potato masher until fairly smooth. Spoon the mixture over grilled bread, and season with cracked black pepper and a drizzle of best-quality extra-virgin olive oil.