Quick-N-Easy Tuscan Beans
As a young couple, my husband and I vacationed at his aunt’s trailer a few miles in from Bethany. It was just this side of camping. The water was sulfuric. The AC sporadic. And the sagging mattress forced us to spoon in the hottest heat. It was, in short, the best of times.
Like all couples starting their lives together, we were frugal. Doris never wanted a dime, but we opted to pay her anyway in chores. Every summer we cleaned a bale’s worth of pine needles from the gutters. We painted slats for the screened porch. Removed moss from the roof and mowed the sandy grass. We enjoyed the work because, simply put, we were tickled pink to be at the beach.
I have the warmest memories of our times there, although making meals was challenging. Kitchen creature comforts were lacking. Yes, there were drawers stuffed with parts of gadgets. And bendy knives duller than reading the phonebook. Even a rickety grill you could pull from a spidery garage. But make no mistake, it was culinary roughing it.
Yet, standing at that kitchen’s little crank-up window, watching my husband putter, all I could do was smile. We made do. Like the time we brewed our Maxwell House using a paper towel for a filter. Actually, that’s a lie. I’m sure the coffee was off-brand.
We’re blessed now to have a place of our own near Bethany. It’s modest but I still marvel at simple things like our beautiful, bright transom windows. How did us boys get to a point in life where we own two food processors? Let alone two houses? We’ve come a long way.
This recipe is reminiscent of something I would have made at the trailer because of its simplicity. Only a few ingredients, with little to no prep. Sort of a dump it, heat it, eat it.
Let’s get started, shall we?
Mix these ingredients over medium heat, gently stirring to break up the tomatoes:
• 2 15-16 oz cans great northern or cannellini beans
• 14.5 oz can stewed tomatoes
• 1 Tbl balsamic vinegar
• ½ to 1 Tbl chopped fresh rosemary
• Fresh cracked pepper to taste
• ½ tsp crushed red pepper, optional
Bring to a slow boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Serve.
These beans are great as is. But if you want to do a little more cooking or just want to bump up the flavor, first sauté:
• 2 oz diced pancetta or bacon
When nearly crisp, drain most of the fat, and add:
• ½ to 1 Tbl chopped fresh sage
• ½ cup chopped leeks, or any onion you have on hand
Cook until leeks/onions are tender and golden, then add:
• 1 clove garlic, crushed
• 2 Tbl wine (I prefer white, but use what you have open)
Deglaze all the browned bits and cook until the wine has evaporated. Add the beans and all other ingredients, proceeding with the rest of the recipe. ▼
Ed and his husband Jerry split their time between homes near Harrisburg Pennsylvania and Bethany Beach. Ed builds websites to pay the bills but loves to cook, garden, hike, and dote on their dog Atticus. Recipe requests and feedback welcome: firstname.lastname@example.org.