Friday nights at Pizzeria Remo run like boisterous clockwork. Whether you’ve been going there all of your life, or it’s your first go to, the routine is at all times the identical. You put your identify and quantity on a listing, then stand in line till you’re known as, the disorderly queue spilling from the pavement into the road. If all of your group has arrived, you bump your method by means of the slender pizzeria – previous the wooden oven and the 3 pizzaioli, with bandanas and floury arms, spinning and paddling – to a desk that appears far too small, however you all slot in anyway. Once you will have all bought your legs below the desk, you instantly must dislodge them so the waiter can cowl the desk with a paper fabric, which you assist tame as he dumps on to it a pile of small plates and cutlery, a slip of paper – the menu – and a blue biro with which to mark up your order.
We mark up the identical issues each week: a marinara and a capricciosa, a small crimson pizza, water and a litre of home crimson. But first, fried issues on squares of white paper, a battered and fried courgette flower (not so good as they was once). And, at all times, a plate of white beans.
I really like how Italian bean dishes might embrace meat and dairy, however so typically don’t – changing into, like a lot good southern Italian meals is, by the way vegan.
At Remo, they’re simply small white beans – amongst them a chunk of carrot and a ribbed inch of celery, round them some cloudy broth and a halo of olive oil – however they’re scrumptious, at simply the proper level between floury and creamy: Romans say so’ come burro, “like butter”. They include 2 nice cushiony slices of bread with which to sop up the broth. “I think they cook these beans in the pizza oven,” I inform my good friend, one other Rachel, earlier than happening about ashes and beans in a flask. The waiter, his allegiance to Lazio emblazoned on each his T-shirt and his forearm, comes over to get plates. “You cook these in the wood oven?” I ask. He seems clean. I strive once more. “You cook the beans in the pizza oven?” At this he makes a sound, the Roman equal of “nah”, and tells me we’re not in Tuscany. “We soak them, chuck them in a big pan with carrot and celery and cook them until they are soft like this,” squeezing his fingers. “Buoni, eh?”
Cannellini beans, borlotti beans, kidney, haricot, black-eyed beans … I’m not positive what we’d do with out them. They are as a lot the spine of what we eat as bread, pasta and potatoes are. Italians have a method with beans that places them firmly on the coronary heart of on a regular basis meals, with out the shackles of being good for you or good on your pocket – although they’re each.
Various forms of beans work, however mottled borlotti are significantly good for cooking into an virtually roasted-chestnut-like softness for this Patience Gray-inspired stew of beans, potato, tomato and herbs. It lends itself to variation although, so strive it with completely different forms of bean, seasonal greens and herbs.
Patience Gray’s bean stew (primary image)
For at this time’s recipe, the beans do want soaking (I go away myself a Post-It reminder close to the kettle).
500g dried borlotti beans, soaked in a single day
500g plum tomatoes, contemporary or tinned
6-8 tbsp olive oil, plus a bit further for drizzling
A big onion, ideally white, peeled and sliced
1 garlic clove
A sprig of parsley
A handful of celery leaves
A sprig of thyme
500g potato, diced
Chopped parsley or crimson chilli, to serve
1 Cover the beans with contemporary water, convey to the boil for five minutes, then drain and rinse. If you’re utilizing contemporary tomatoes, peel them by plunging in boiling water for a minute, then chilly water, at which level the skins ought to peel away. For tinned, drain the juice. Chop the tomatoes roughly.
2 In a big, heavy-based pan over a low warmth, fry the onion, garlic and a pinch of salt within the olive oil till smooth and aromatic. Add the chopped tomatoes, crushing them towards the facet of the pan, then simmer for two minutes. Roughly chop the parsley and celery leaves, then add to the pan together with the thyme and permit to bubble for a minute extra. Add the diced potato, beans and one other small pinch of salt, stir then simmer for a minute extra, cowl with scorching water and cook dinner gently for 90 minutes or till the beans and potato are smooth. The dish must be soupy, so if at any level the pan seems dry, add extra water
3 To serve, sprinkle with a bit extra chopped parsley, a thread of olive oil, or some chopped crimson chilli, in the event you like.
Braised artichoke and butter beans
To serve 4: Dice 1 onion, 1 carrot, 1 small leek and 1 stick celery, then in a big, deep pan with a lid, gently fry with a pinch of crimson chilli flakes in 6 tbsp olive oil over a low flame till smooth and aromatic. Meanwhile, trim and quarter 3 globe artichokes, dropping the items right into a bowl of juice of ½ lemon blended with water as you go. Once prepared, add the artichoke items to the pan together with 1 potato, peeled and diced and a pinch of salt. Stir so every bit glistens with oil, add 250ml white wine then scale back to a simmer, cowl and go away to braise for 15 minutes, or till the greens are tender,stirring often. Stir in 2 drained tinfuls of beans. Cook uncovered for five minutes, stirring, till smooth and brothy. Season, put aside then gently reheat to serve with bread.
Pasta e ceci – pasta and chickpea soup
To serve 4: Gently fry 1 onion and 1 stick celery – each finely diced – in 6 tbsp olive oil till smooth and aromatic. Add 1 small, diced potato and stir till every chunk glistens. Add 1 sprig contemporary rosemary, 1 tsp tomato puree and a small pinch of chilli flakes, stir and cook dinner for a minute. Add 2 tinfuls of chickpeas, drained and rinsed, together with 1.2 lites of water and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, then scale back to a delicate simmer for 20 minutes. When cooked, decant half of the soup from the pan, blitz, then return it to the pan. Season to style, then convey to a gradual however reasonable boil. Add 120g small dried pasta. Stirring fairly attentively, cook dinner till tender, including water if needed. Season and prime with olive oil to serve.
White beans and wilted greens
To serve 4: Fry 2 chopped garlic cloves, 1 chopped onion, 1 diced celery stalk and a chopped small dried chilli over a low warmth for 8 minutes, or till smooth and aromatic. Raise the warmth and add 700g chopped greens (reminiscent of swiss chard, spinach, dandelion greens) a handful at a time, including the subsequent with a tiny pinch of salt when the earlier 1 has wilted a bit. Cover and cook dinner for five minutes, or till the greens are smooth. Remove the lid, cook dinner for an additional 2 minutes, add 250g of cooked cannellini beans and a cup of their cooking broth, stir and cook dinner uncovered for about 5 minutes. Serve with garlic-rubbed toast, grilled sausages or white rice. Alternatively use an blitz right into a thick soup; prime with breadcrumbs.
- Rachel Roddy is a meals author based mostly in Rome and gained the Guild of Food Writers meals author and cookery author awards for this column. Her new e book, Two Kitchens (Headline Home) is out now; @rachelaliceroddy
Rachel Roddy from theguardian.com