White Beans with Kale and Peppadew Peppers

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White Beans with Kale and Peppadew Peppers Credits: Criag Thiebaud
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Leafy greens season is in full swing this time of year in New Jersey.  Local kale, spinach, and various types of lettuce can be readily found at farmer’s markets, farm stores, and supermarkets in the area.  Bright red Peppadew peppers can be found at most grocery stores.  They are sweet and a tad sour.  Despite being considered a ‘mild’ pepper, they do impart a nice but not overwhelming amount of heat.

I make this dish pretty frequently throughout the year.  The beans can be served as a hearty side dish or as a healthy main course.  I generally use it as a main dish and serve a salad alongside.  It takes a bit of time, around two hours or so.  However, the beans simmer for the majority of the time, freeing you up to do other things.  I tend to enjoy beans on the mushier side so the cook time indicated will deliver that consistency.  If you prefer beans al dente, simply reduce the cook time and taste the beans as you go to choose the consistency that’s right for you.  This recipe yields a large number of servings so it will feed a crowd.  It will also last a week or so in the fridge so you can enjoy the leftovers.

Ingredients:

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1 Bag dried white beans (I used Bob’s Red Mill Cannelloni Beans)

2 Quarts chicken

2 Quarts water (approximately)

1 Head garlic, cloves chopped coarsely

1 Onion, sliced thinly

3 Fresh Bay Leaves

4-5 Sprigs fresh thyme

1 Bunch fresh kale

1 Jar Peppadew peppers, drained and rinsed

¼ Cup Olive Oil, plus more for final presentation

Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

  • Soak beans overnight in cold water.  The next day, rinse the beans in cold water and set aside.
  • Take head of garlic and remove skins from cloves and chop coarsely.  Thinly slice onions.
  • Wash kale and remove the large center ribs.  Keep leaves in large pieces.  Set aside.
  • Place Peppadew peppers in strainer and rinse completely in cold water.  Cut in half or quarters and set aside.
  • In a large Dutch oven or large, heavy bottomed pot, heat a ¼ cup of olive oil with the bay leaves and thyme for a couple of minutes over medium heat.  Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook for 3 or 4 minutes.  Add garlic and cook another minute.
  • Add the beans and two quarts of stock (if you don’t have stock, just use water).  The liquid level should be around two inches above the beans at this point.  If the beans aren’t sufficiently covered, simply add water until the liquid reaches that level.
  • Bring liquid to boil, stirring occasionally.  Once at a vigorous boil, reduce heat to low and cover.
  • Allow beans to simmer on low for 30 minutes.  Check liquid level and adjust by adding water if needed.  The beans will absorb the liquid, so adding additional liquid will be necessary.
  • Continue cooking beans on low and covered, stirring and checking liquid level every 30 minutes two more times (for a total of 1.5 hours on low).
  • At an hour and a half, taste beans for doneness.  Beans are likely al dente at this point.  If you prefer them softer, continue to cook covered on low for another thirty minutes.
  • Once beans are cooked to desired doneness, remove bay leaves and thyme sprigs (the stems need to be removed.  The thyme leaves will have melded into the sauce.).  I fish both out with thongs.
  • Add kale and Peppadew peppers.  Cover for two minutes.
  • Season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
  • Serve dish in bowls and drizzle lightly with olive oil.

Note:  The kale will wilt immediately and will appear bright green if served quickly.  The color will become darker the longer it lingers in the beans and heat.  Also, cooking times are approximate in this case and will vary depending on the type of beans used, the type of pot used, and the actual heat of your range.  The best way to check for doneness is simply tasting as you go.

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