Simple White Beans

I've been working on a little side project this week, a sort of challenge to myself, you could say. I challenged myself to "archive" my cookbooks, of which there are many. This means I'll be combing through each one, creating a google doc and noting the recipes I'd like to try and their page numbers. While this may sound mind numbing, it's been a fairly simple process so far, done mostly at a leisurely pace while watching Netflix. It's been a fun way for me to re-engage with my own library, and to engage with food writing and recipe structure even more than I already do.


One such book I'd yet to crack the spine on was the Moosewood Cookbook. Folks, I'm not even totally sure how I came to buy this one, but I've found that once I started to actually read it I quickly fell in love. I think it came into my life on the suggestion of a mutual Instagram follower and home cook, but who can be certain? What surprised me even more is this: I was digging through my email looking for a recipe a friend had written out for me, and in the very email I'd been searching for he mentioned a recipe from the Moosewood cookbook. Life is funny, the world is small, and seemingly thoroughly connected. 

So I cracked the spine and poured over the delightfully thoughtful recipes, illustrations, and writings of Mollie Katzen, the book's author, and was thoroughly charmed by the experience of reading her work. This book is full of simple, elegant vegetarian recipes and makes you dream of an agrarian, idyllic lifestyle. One where vegetables come straight from the garden and everything is served with care and consideration, while pomp and fussing are entirely eschewed. Katzen has presented such practical, accessible recipes that I'm mad the book has only impacted my life now. The fact that everything is handwritten and illustrated only further accentuates the books charm. 

While I'm certainly behind on this book, which was initially published in 1974, it's made a large impact globally, enough to merit it's own wikipedia page and multiple re-issues. While I've already made a document with all the recipes I'm excited to try from this book, the first that drew me in was this recipe for white beans. First of all, I love white beans! They're soft and creamy and they pair beautifully with a zip of vinegar, as the recipe calls for. They're also a protein powerhouse, so if you, like me, try to opt for meat only when necessary or when a craving strikes, you'll love this addition to your meal repertoire. It's also incredibly cheap, satisfying and it makes SO MANY BEANS. SO. MANY. BEANS. 


Admittedly I should have halved this recipe, but since I'd never cooked legumes from their dried form before I just went with what the recipe called for. This recipe does not require you to soak the beans overnight, which was wonderful since I decided to make it rather impulsively, but I found I needed a good amount of extra cooking time because of this. I'd say just be patient with it and check the texture of your beans every five minutes or s if they're not finished when the timer goes off. In the end I had an excellent side dish that I served both on its own and also over some garlic rubbed toast with a drizzle of olive oil. The resulting dish was hearty, comforting, and perfectly tuscan in flavor - essentially everything I love in food. Below you'll find the recipe as printed in Moosewood. 


Just White Beans

"Sometimes it's refreshing to have a bean salad that is a simple solo of lightly marinated beans, without a lot of little diced vegetables singing backup vocals. This is one such dish. It is delightful by itself, and downright smashing when topped with a mound of pickled red onions. This salad keeps well for days if tightly covered and refrigerated. The beans can be cooked without prior soaking." 

  • 1 1/2 Cup Dry White Pea Beans
  • 3 Tbs Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbs Red Wine Vinegar
  • 3/4 to 1 tsp Sale
  • 1 to 2 Medium Garlic Cloves, minced
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Basil
  • 1/4 Cup Finely Minced Parsley
  • 2 Tbs Fresh Dill (I omitted this and the parsley, went with more Basil)
  • Pickles Red Onions
  1. Place the beans in a medium sized sauce pan and cover with water. Bring a boil, reduce heat, and cook, partially covered until tender by not mush (1 to 1 1/4 hours).
  2. Drain well, and transfer to a medium sized bowl. 
  3. Add the remaining ingredients, mix gently, and taste to correct seasonings. Cover tightly and chill until cold. 
  4. Serve topped with Pickled Red Onions. 

Pickled Red Onions

"Try these with any bean salad, in or with sandwiches, in countless other salads, as an antipasto dish, or even on top of homemade pizza. Pickled Red Onions are ridiculously easy to make, and keep practically indefinitely."

  • I cup water
  • Up to 3 Tbs Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Whole Peppercorns
  • 4 Medium Red Onions, Very Thinly Slices
  1. Preliminary: Heat teakettle or pot of water to a boil
  2. Combine vinegar, 1 cup of water, sugar, salt, and peppercorns in a medium sized bowl and stir until the sugar is dissolved. 
  3. Place the onion slices in a colander in the sink, and slowly pour all the boiling water over them. They will wilt slightly. Drain well, and transfer to the bowlful of marinade. 
  4. Cover and allow to marinate, refrigerated or at room temperature, for at least several hours. Store in a sterilized jar in the refridgerator and use as needed.