Swat Valley Varjaley: Wild Garlic, Dill and Spinach Rice

1 1/2 tbsp. ghee or 1 tbsp. unsalted butter and 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp black cumin seeds or cumin seeds
½ large red onion, chopped finely
2 handfuls of baby spinach
2 sprigs of fresh dill
1 large handful of ramson/wild garlic
200g basmati rice, rinsed and soaked in tap water for 1 hour

To serve:

100 g natural full fat yoghurt

Rinse and soak the basmati rice in water for about 1 hour maximum and drain.

Heat a saucepan (lidded). Once hot add ghee (or butter and oil). When melted, add cumin. Allow it to pop and add the red onions.

Chop the greens, (if using garlic instead of wild garlic leaves chop finely).

When the onions are light brown from the edges add all the greens (or garlic with greens) and toss until wilted. Add the drained rice and stir through until all combined.

Top with a little water (enough to lightly cover the rice, but not cover it totally). Place the lid on and turn the heat to low. Cook for 5-7 minutes, check if rice had absorbed the liquid, if still raw, add a few more splashes of water, cover and cook until done. Puff up the rice using a fork. There should be no liquid remaining.

Serve with plain natural full fat yogurt.

Coriander and Mint Pullao

2 cups basmati rice
1 cinnamon stick
4-6 cardamoms
4-6 cloves
1 bay leaf
7-8 peppercorns
1 tbsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
salt to taste
For the chutney BLEND together:
A bunch of fresh coriander
2-4 green chillis
5-7 mint leaves

A handful pomegranate to garnish and add texture and a sweet sour pungency.

Serves about 4 and takes about 25-30 minutes to cook (excluding rice soaking time)

Wash and soak the rice in water for at least 1/2 hour to an hour.

Heat the oil and ‘bhagar’ – (temper) the cloves, cinnamon stick and cardamom until you can smell them. Add the ginger and garlic paste and cook till the raw smell disappears, dont let them burn. Immediately pour a blended chutney and cook for a few minutes

Pour in the rice and fry it in the chutney mixture. The pour just enough water to cover the rice, less is better. Add some salt. Cover and cook on very low heat.

Check every now and then to see if rice is cooked. The liquid should be absorbed and the rice should be fluffy and cooked though. Try not to move around the rice with a spoon too much as the rice may break. Use a fork to move it around so as to avoid it sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Keep the rice covered under low heat, until it is cooked though and all the water is absorbed. Don’t over cook it as you are after each grain being separate.

Cinnamon and Coconut Rice

1 – 1 1/2 cups of basmati rice, which has been soaked for up to a minimum of 1/2 an hour
1 cup of coconut milk
water
salt to taste
11/2 tsp of nigella seeds (kalongi seeds)
rind of one large lemon
1 tbsp of lemon juice
a medium piece of a cinnamon stick
oil

In a little hot oil fry the cinnamon stick until an aroma develops. Pour in he drained rice and fry for a few seconds. Now add enough water to just cover the rice and add the coconut water now as well, and turn the heat low and cover the saucepan and cook on ‘dam’.

Check the rice after a few minutes to ensure that the rice has not stuck to the bottom of the pan. Use a small teaspoon to move around the rice so as to avoid breaking the grains. If you feel the rice is burning at the bottom place a ‘tava’ – flat Asian pan used to make chappatti breads etc, under the pan and keep on low heat, or place in over (if using oven safe saucepan).

In a small fry pan heat up a little oil and fry the nigella seeds until they splutter and then pour these, the lemon rind and juice on to the rice and stir.

Serve with any fish dish.

Mince Biryani

5 tomatoes (chopped)
1 teaspoon each of coriander powder, cumin powder and red chilli powder
Whole garam masala consisting of: 1 star anise, 1 stick of cinnamon, 1 black cardamom, 4-5 small green cardamom(crush)
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon each of cumin, coriander seeds, aniseed,black pepper and cloves
1 green chilli
fresh coriander and mint (chopped)
lemon and lime slices
1 pinch saffron (soaked in hot milk for 20 mins)
1 tablespoon rose water
1 1/2 cup rice
1/2 cup green lentils
1kg lean chicken/turkey/beef mince
1 onion (chopped)
1 tablespoon ginger/garlic paste
Directions

Soak rice and lentil separately in tap water for about 30 minutes prior to cooking, then par boil both separately and strain and keep aside.

In a saucepan heat oil under medium heat and fry the whole garam masalas until you can smell them. Now add the ginger/garlic paste, onions and allow to brown, but not burn. Add the salt, red chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and fry with a splash of water to avoid it from burning.

At this stage add the tomatoes and fry until quite thick and the oil comes up to the top. Add the mince meat and fry constantly until the meat is cooked and dry and all you can see is the oil at the sides on the pan – hence no tomato sauce should be moving around the pan. Add fresh coriander and stir.

Once this is done, in the same saucepan layer the lentil and then the rice over the mince, pour the ghee and then the saffron and milk and rose water and place a few lemons and lime slices inside and sprinkle fried onions, mint and fresh coriander and a green chilli on top. Cover the saucepan and place in a medium pre- heated oven for about 20 minutes.

Check to see if rice and lentil cooked through, if not then leave in oven longer. By leaving it in the oven you won’t’ be a risk of burning the rice at the bottom even on low heat on the stove. When it’s done give the biryani a good stir serve with greek yogurt or a mint raita.

Shahi Biryani with Fenugreek and Vegetables

300 g rice, washed and soaked in tap water for 30 minutes, then par-boiled in hot boiling salty water for only 2-3 minutes
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tbsp Ghee
2 large onions, peeled and cut into half moons
1 1/2 tsp garlic paste
1 1/2 tsp ginger paste
4 tomatoes, chopped
300 g natural yoghurt
1 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 bunch fresh methi (fenugreek), washed and chopped (you can substitute with dried methi, but only use about 2-3 tsp)
A handful of green beans, cut into two pieces,
1 potato, peeled and chopped into small squares
100 g shelled peas
200 g chopped spinach
1 large green capsicum/pepper, de-seeded and chopped into medium squares
salt to taste

For adding when layering:
1 bunch or coriander leaves, chopped
10-12 mint leaves
1 lemon sliced thinly
1 pinch of saffron, soak in hot water for 15 minutes
3-5 green chillis, chopped finely

Whole Garam Masalas:
1 cinnamon quill
10-12 cloves
10 green cardamoms
1 large black cardamom
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp peppercorn

Garnish:
A handful of pistachios, pomegranate, coriander leaves and rose petals

Method:

Heat vegetable oil and 2 tbsp ghee in a saucepan with the tight fitting lid add all the whole garam masalas until fragrant, be sure not to burn. The add onions and cook until translucent.

Add ginger and garlic and fry until the raw smell of ginger and garlic leaves the pan (about 2-4 minutes) Do not allow to get brown. Add a splash of water to ensure that nothing gets burned and keep on medium heat.

Add tomatoes and fry until they cook down. Add yoghurt and keep stirring until the oil leaves the curry. Add salt, turmeric and red chilli powder.

Now add all the vegetables and cook until mixed well.

Top the vegetable curry with coriander leaves; mint and green chilli and then layer par-boiled rice on top of the vegetable curry spread evenly. Top with coriander, mint and green chili again and also pour the 1 tbsp of ghee (melted), shove in some lemon slices, pour over saffron and cover tightly with foil and then the pan’s lid.

Keep on very low heat, and allow to cook in it’s own steam for 20-30 minutes.

Once done, open up the biryani, serve in a dish and sprinkle the garnish! Serve hot with raita

Aaloo ki Tehri (Cumin and Turmeric Scented Rice Pullao with Potatoes)

150 g Basmati rice, washed and soaked for a minimum of 30 minutes prior to cooking
1 red onion, peeled, cut into thin rings and fried in vegetable oil until golden brown, drained and kept to cool
vegetable oil
1/2 stick cinnamon
4-5 green cardamom pods, bashed open
6-7 cloves
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp peppercorns
1/2 tsp garlic paste
1/2 tsp ginger paste
Salt to taste
Water at hand

Nuts and dry fruit:
A handful of shelled unsalted pistachios
A handful of skinned whole almonds
A handful of sultanas
(save a bit for garnish)
ghee to fry

Garnish:
A few mint leaves
1/2 lemon, sliced into thin rounds
2-4 whole thin green chills
1 generous pinch of saffron, soaked in 1 tbsp boiling water

Equipment:
A saucepan with a tight fitting lid
Foil

Begin with par-boiling the soaked then drained rice, strain and then set rice aside until later. Fry the nuts and then the sultanas in a little ghee and also fry your onions are explained above. Set all this aside for now.

Heat about 2 tbsp of vegetable oil in the saucepan over medium heat and once hot, throw in all the whole spices, once the start to splutter, add the ginger and garlic pastes and fry stirring continuously, do not let this brown. Once the raw smell of the garlic and ginger evaporates, add the par-boiled rice and fry for a minute or two. Turn the heat to medium low. Add the fried nuts (safe a few for garnishing) and mix with the rice.

Now pour over the saffron, shove the lemon slices and a few mint leaves into the rice, sprinkle the fried onions. Add a little water to the pan, about 2-4 tbsp. Place a piece of foil to cover the top the pan, tightly fit the lid and turn heat to low.

Leave to infuse and cook for about 15-20 minutes, not longer. Turn heat off and lift off lid and foil. The rice should be steaming and aromas should now be developed! After a gentle stir, serve immediately.

Saffron and Nut Biryani

150 g Basmati rice, washed and soaked for a minimum of 30 minutes prior to cooking
1 red onion, peeled, cut into thin rings and fried in vegetable oil until golden brown, drained and kept to cool
vegetable oil
1/2 stick cinnamon
4-5 green cardamom pods, bashed open
6-7 cloves
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp peppercorns
1/2 tsp garlic paste
1/2 tsp ginger paste
Salt to taste
Water at hand

Nuts and dry fruit:
A handful of shelled unsalted pistachios
A handful of skinned whole almonds
A handful of sultanas
(save a bit for garnish)
ghee to fry

Garnish:
A few mint leaves
1/2 lemon, sliced into thin rounds
2-4 whole thin green chills
1 generous pinch of saffron, soaked in 1 tbsp boiling water

Equipment:
A saucepan with a tight fitting lid
Foil

Begin with par-boiling the soaked then drained rice, strain and then set rice aside until later. Fry the nuts and then the sultanas in a little ghee and also fry your onions are explained above. Set all this aside for now.

Heat about 2 tbsp of vegetable oil in the saucepan over medium heat and once hot, throw in all the whole spices, once the start to splutter, add the ginger and garlic pastes and fry stirring continuously, do not let this brown. Once the raw smell of the garlic and ginger evaporates, add the par-boiled rice and fry for a minute or two. Turn the heat to medium low. Add the fried nuts (safe a few for garnishing) and mix with the rice.

Now pour over the saffron, shove the lemon slices and a few mint leaves into the rice, sprinkle the fried onions. Add a little water to the pan, about 2-4 tbsp. Place a piece of foil to cover the top the pan, tightly fit the lid and turn heat to low.

Leave to infuse and cook for about 15-20 minutes, not longer. Turn heat off and lift off lid and foil. The rice should be steaming and aromas should now be developed! After a gentle stir, serve immediately.

Khichri (Buttery Lentils and Rice)

5 handfuls of basmati rice
2 handfuls of husked moong daal
Salt to taste
1 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
1 small red onion, cut into rings
1 tbsp butter mixed with a teaspoon of oil or 1/2 tbsp of ghee
1/ tsp cumin

Begin by mixing the lentil and rice and giving it a good rinse. Then soak for up to an hour (minimum 30 minutes)

Drain the rice and lentil. They should look like the photo below after being drained. Now pour into a saucepan and add enough tap water to cover it.

Bring to a boil then leave to simmer until cooked. This should take about 4-5 minutes. The rice shouldn’t be mushy and the lentil should still have bite. All the moisture should leave the pan. take of the heat.

In a small frying pan, heat the butter and oil or ghee, once piping hot add the cumin until they splutter, then the garlic until it’s slightly crisp and finally the onions and stir until soft.

Pour this flavoured butter/ghee over the rice and stir. Serve with some plain greek yoghurt, full fat natural yoghurt and if you’re lucky to find this; thick buffalos’ milk desi yoghurt!

Mujaddara (Rice and Lentils with Caramelized Onions)

4 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
4 bay leaves
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 cup brown lentils, rinsed and drained
1 cup basmati rice, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup peanut oil
2 medium yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
Plain whole-milk yogurt, to serve

In a large Dutch oven over medium-high, combine 5 cups water, the garlic, bay, cumin, allspice, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil, then stir in the lentils and reduce to medium. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat to maintain a simmer, until the lentils are softened but still quite firm at the center, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the rice and return to a simmer. Cover, reduce to medium-low and cook until the liquid is absorbed and the lentils and rice are tender, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onions and cook, stirring only occasionally at the start then more frequently once browning begins at the edges of the pan, until the onions are deeply caramelized and crisped, 10 to 15 minutes; adjust the heat if the onions brown too quickly. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the onions to a paper towel–lined plate and spread evenly. Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt and set aside; the onions will crisp as they cool.

When the lentils and rice are tender, remove the pot from the heat. Uncover and lay a kitchen towel across the pan, then replace the lid and let stand for 10 minutes.

Using a fork, fluff the lentils and rice, removing and discarding the bay. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Stir in half the scallions, then transfer to a serving bowl. Top with the fried onions and remaining scallions. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature with yogurt on the side.

Perfect Brown Rice

1 cup short, medium, or long-grain brown rice
Kosher salt, to taste

Rinse rice in a strainer under cold running water for 30 seconds. Bring 12 cups water to a boil in a large pot with a tight-fitting lid over high heat. Add the rice, stir it once, and boil, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Pour the rice into a strainer over the sink.

Let the rice drain for 10 seconds, then return it to the pot, off the heat. Cover the pot and set it aside to allow the rice to steam for 10 minutes. Uncover the rice, fluff with a fork, and season with salt.

Burmese Chickpea Fried Rice

2 cups of uncooked long-grain white rice
2 Tbsp of cooking oil
2 large onions peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic peeled and minced
1 Tbsp of red chili paste optional
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 cups of soy bean sprouts
2 stalks of green onions finely chopped
Limes quartered

ROASTED CHICKPEAS:
15 oz of canned chickpeas/garbanzo beans drained and rinse with water
1 Tbsp of good quality curry powder
1 Tbsp of Olive oil
Pinch of salt

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Drain off the liquid and rinse the chickpeas with water until it’s no longer “slimy”. Spread the chickpeas on a baking sheet and pick out the loose skin from the chick peas. Pat them really dry with clean kitchen towel. Drizzle with some olive oil, curry powder, and salt. Lightly toss to coat them evenly. Pop into the oven and roast for about 40 minutes to 1 hour (depending on your oven) until they are crispy and golden brown. Keep them warm while you are getting other things ready.

Rinse the rice with water until the water is clear. If you are cooking your rice with rice cooker, use about 1 1/2 cups of water to cook the rice. If you are not using rice cooker, use 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to let it simmer uncovered until all liquid is almost absorbed. Turn off the heat and cover with a lid for 15 minutes and then uncover and fluff the rice with a fork and let it completely cool down (repeat: COMPLETELY!!).

When ready to make the fried rice. Preheat the wok or skillet on high heat. Add in the cooking oil and swirl to coat the wok/skillet. Add in the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are soft, about 3 minutes. Add in the red chili paste if using. Add in the cooked rice and roasted chickpeas into the wok or skillet. Toss to mix everything. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to your taste. Add in the soy bean sprouts and stir to mix again. I like my sprouts to be still slightly crunchy, so don’t cook for too long. Turn off the heat and sprinkle in the green onions, squeeze in some lime juice and stir one last time to mix and serve immediately.

Serve with shallot and chili sambal.

Malaysian Golden Rice (Nasi Kunyit)

1 cup sticky rice
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1-inch fresh turmeric, peeled and sliced thinly (optional)
3 slices of lime
1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns
2 pandan leaves, washed and knotted together (optional)
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
Banana leaves (cut smaller to line steamer or use cheesecloth as an alternative)

Wash and drain 1 cup of uncooked sticky rice until the water is clear, about 2 to 3 rinses. Then soak rice in enough water to cover together with ground turmeric, fresh turmeric, and lime slices for at least 4 hours up to overnight.

When ready to cook, mix coconut milk with salt and set aside.

Bring some water in a steam pot to a boil. Drain the rice, remove turmeric and lime slices, and transfer to a steam basket lined with banana leaves or cheesecloth. Spread the rice well and add pandan leaves, whole peppercorns, and drizzle with 1/2 the coconut milk. Cover and place on top of the pot, making sure that the bottom does not touch the water. Steam the rice over medium heat for about 30 minutes.

Gently flip the rice. Add the remaining coconut milk and steam for another 15 minutes. Sticky rice is cooked when it becomes soft and translucent. Turn off the heat and let the rice rest for about 5 minutes. Remove the pandan leaves and serve warm.

NOTES:
· Always store sticky rice in a closed container. If it dries out and becomes hard, heating it up on a pan with a little water works, but there’s a risk of the rice becoming mushy.

· For this recipe, I use and recommend Savoy Coconut Cream. The can lists only two ingredients: coconut extracts (70%) and water.

· To make this with regular rice, combine 1 cup of washed and drained uncooked rice together with all the ingredients (except banana leaves). Factor the coconut milk volume in the amount of liquid required to cook the rice. For example, if 2 cups of liquid is needed, then add only 1 cup of water as the coconut milk makes up another cup of the liquid. Cook as usual in a rice cooker or on the stovetop. You can read this post on how I cook rice.

Alison’s Edamame and Rice

1 bag shelled frozen edamame

Sauce:
3 tablespoons chili paste
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Pinch of sugar to taste
Dash of black vinegar to taste
Dash of toasted sesame oil to taste

Cooked rice for serving

Steam or boil edamame until just done.

Mix sauce ingredients to taste.

Toss edamame with sauce.

Serve over rice.

Stewed Black-Eyed Peas

2 pounds dried black-eyed peas
1 sweet onion, such as Vidalia, peeled and halved through the root end (keep the root attached)
4 whole cloves
1 garlic head, cut in half
10 black peppercorns
2 dried bay leaves
1 chile de árbol or other small dried chile
1 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
Hot sauce, to taste

Put the peas in a large bowl, add water to cover by 2 inches, and soak overnight.

Blacken the onion: If you have a gas stove, turn one burner on high and place the onion halves directly on the grates next to the flame and cook, turning occasionally, until the onion is charred on all sides, about 5 minutes. Otherwise, heat the broiler and broil the onion on a baking sheet a few inches from the heat, turning occasionally, until charred, 1 to 2 minutes. Set aside to cool.

When the onion is cool enough to handle, poke 2 cloves into each half, and add the onion to a large stockpot. Drain the peas, discarding the liquid, and then transfer the peas to the pot.

Place the garlic, peppercorns, bay leaves and chile on a 12-inch square of cheesecloth and wrap tightly, using twine to seal the packet.

Add 6 quarts water and the spice packet to the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Skim any foam that collects on the surface, then reduce to a simmer. Stir in the olive oil and 1 tablespoon salt and cook, stirring and skimming occasionally, until the peas are fully cooked and the cooking liquid has thickened, 1 to 2 hours.

Discard the spice packet, season with the remaining 1 tablespoon salt (or to taste) and the hot sauce and serve.

Borlotti Beans over Polenta

TOMATO SAUCE:
3 TABLESPOONS UNSALTED BUTTER
1/2 MEDIUM YELLOW ONION, chopped
1 MEDIUM FENNEL BULB, trimmed and chopped
3 GARLIC CLOVES, finely chopped
4 TEASPOONS CHOPPED FRESH OREGANO
1/4 TEASPOON RED PEPPER FLAKES
SALT
1 SMALL CARROT, peeled and shredded
ONE 28-OUNCE CAN WHOLE SAN MARZANO TOMATOES or plum tomatoes
FRESHLY GROUND PEPPER
2 CUPS DRAINED, COOKED BORLOTTI BEANS
1/3 CUP CHOPPED FRESH FLAT-LEAF PARSLEY

POLENTA:
4 CUPS WATER
1 TEASPOON SALT
1 CUP POLENTA
2 TABLESPOONS UNSALTED BUTTER
1/2 CUP FRESHLY GRATED PARMESAN CHEESE, plus more for garnishing
FRESHLY GROUND PEPPER

Optional: cooked Italian sausage, to serve on top of the finished dish.

For a streamlined process,make the tomato sauce and the beans ahead and heat them together while you cook the polenta.

Make the sauce: In a small Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium heat, melt the butter.

Add the onion, the fennel, the garlic, 2 teaspoons of the oregano, the red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt. Sauté until the vegetables are soft and fragrant, about 10 minutes.

Add the carrot and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the tomatoes with their juice, stirring to break them up with a wooden spoon. Add another pinch of salt.

Reduce the heat to low and cook, uncovered, at the barest simmer, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are reduced and beginning to separate from the oil, at least 2 hours or up to 3 hours.

Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oregano and salt and pepper to taste. The sauce can be made up to this point 1 or 2 days ahead; let cool and refrigerate.

Make the polenta:
About 45 minutes before serving, bring the water to a boil in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the salt and, whisking continuously, slowly pour the polenta into the water in a thin stream. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring nearly constantly with a long-handled wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens, the grains soften, and the polenta begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, 40 to 45 minutes.

Stir in the butter and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, and season with pepper. Cover to keep warm.

Add the beans to the tomato sauce and warm them together over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Stir in the parsley about 5 minutes before serving.

Spoon the polenta into warmed shallow bowls and make a well in the center of each serving. Spoon the tomato sauce into the well. Garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Substitution Note: This dish is best made with a rich, creamy bean. If borlotti are unavailable, try French horticulture, or wren’s egg.

Carne en su Jugo

6 SLICES HIGH-QUALITY BACON, diced
1 POUND LEAN BEEF such as sirloin tip or top round, cut against the grain into ¼-inch-thick slices and chopped (see note)
4 CUPS BEEF BROTH
2 CHIPOTLE CHILES IN ADOBO
SALT AND FRESHLY GROUND PEPPER
2 CUPS DRAINED, COOKED FLOR DE MAYO BEANS
CILANTRO LEAVES for serving
LIME WEDGES for serving
FINELY CHOPPED GREEN ONIONS, white and pale green parts, for serving

In a medium, heavy skillet over medium heat, sauté the bacon until all the fat is rendered and the bacon is brown but not crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel–lined plate.

Add the beef to the skillet and sauté until brown, turning often with tongs, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the beef to a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot.

In a blender, combine 1 cup of the beef broth and the chiles in adobo and blend until smooth. Add to the beef and pour in the remaining beef broth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the meat is tender and the flavors are blended, about 20 minutes.

In a small saucepan over low heat, warm the beans. Ladle them into warmed bowls. Ladle the meat with its broth over the beans.

Top with the bacon and cilantro leaves.

Pass the lime wedges and green onions at the table.

Note: It is easier to slice the meat thinly if you freeze it for about 20 minutes. Substitution Note: Any creamy pintolike bean is great here. Try Anasazi, flor de junio, or Rio Zape.

Lima Beans (Baby or Christmas) with Caramelized Onions and Bacon

1/2 POUND FLORIDA BUTTER BEANS or CHRISTMAS LIMAS, soaked
4 SLICES HIGH-QUALITY BACON, diced
2 1/2 MEDIUM YELLOW ONIONS
2 CELERY STALKS, diced
2 GARLIC CLOVES, finely chopped
SALT
3/4 TEASPOON CHOPPED FRESH THYME LEAVES FRESHLY GROUND PEPPER

Put the beans and their soaking water in a stockpot and add more cold water if needed to cover the beans by 1 inch. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, until the beans are beginning to soften, about 1 hour.

In a medium, heavy skillet over medium heat, sauté the bacon until the fat is rendered and the bacon is beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat from the pan and reserve.

Chop half of an onion and add to the pan over medium heat. Add the celery and garlic and sauté until the vegetables are soft and fragrant, about 10 minutes.

Add to the beans, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the beans are tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. When the beans are nearly soft, season them with salt.

Meanwhile, cut the remaining 2 whole onions in half, then cut into thin slices. Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel, pour in 2 tablespoons of the reserved bacon fat, and set over medium-low heat. Add the sliced onions and a few pinches of salt. Cook, stirring, until the onions wilt. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are medium brown, soft, and caramelized, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Add 2 tablespoons water and stir to loosen any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the thyme and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the bacon to the caramelized onions and heat gently.

Top each serving of beans with some of the caramelized onion–bacon mixture.

Cannellini with Tomatoes and Sage

FOR OVEN-CURED TOMATOES:
6 PLUM TOMATOES
1 TABLESPOON CHOPPED FRESH FLAT-LEAF PARSLEY
3 TO 4 TABLESPOONS EXTRA-VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
SALT

BEANS:

1 POUND RUNNER CANNELLINI or CELLINI BEANS, soaked
1 MEDIUM CARROT, peeled and quartered
1 CELERY STALK, cut into thirds
1 GARLIC HEAD, halved
3 FRESH SAGE SPRIGS 3
FRESH ROSEMARY SPRIGS
SALT
1/4 CUP SAFFLOWER or GRAPESEED OIL for frying
20 FRESH SAGE LEAVES
1/2 CUP EXTRA-VIRGIN OLIVE OIL, plus oil for drizzling
2 GARLIC CLOVES, thinly sliced
3 TABLESPOONS CHOPPED FRESH SAGE
FRESHLY GROUND PEPPER

Make the tomatoes:
Preheat the oven to 200 ° F. Core the tomatoes. Slice each tomato nearly in half lengthwise, taking care not to cut all the way through so the halves remain attached.

In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, parsley, extra-virgin olive oil, and salt to taste. Toss to coat. Arrange the tomatoes, cut side down, in a single layer on a rack setover a baking sheet.

Bake until the liquid is evaporated and the tomatoes are shriveled and reduced in size, but not completely dry, about 10 hours. Chop the tomatoes and set aside.

Beans:
In a stockpot, combine the beans and their soaking water, carrot, celery, and garlic head.

Put the sage sprigs and rosemary sprigs on a piece of cheesecloth, gather the corners, and tie the bundle securely. Add to the pot.

Add more cold water if needed to cover the beans by at least 1 inch. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook,partially covered, until the beans are nearly soft, about 1 hour. Season with salt and continue cooking the beans until tender, about 30 minutes.

Allow the beans to cool in their broth. Remove and discard the vegetables, garlic head, and cheesecloth bundle. Drain the beans, reserving the broth.

In a small, heavy skillet over medium-high heat, warm the safflower oil until it is shimmering. Add the sage leaves, 4 at a time, and fry until they are crisp but remain bright green, 10 to 15 seconds. Remove with tongs to a paper towel to drain.

In a large, heavy skillet over medium-low heat, warm the 1/2 cup olive oil. Add the sliced garlic and chopped sage, and sauté until aromatic.

Add the chopped tomatoes and cook just until they begin to break down, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the cooked beans to the skillet along with 1 cup of the reserved broth. Continue cooking until the liquid has reduced and leaves a glossy shine on the beans.

Season to taste with salt and pepper and drizzle generously with olive oil.

Transfer the beans to a serving dish and top with the fried sage leaves.

Jacob’s Cattle Beans with Pancetta and Sage

1/2 POUND JACOB’S CATTLE BEANS, soaked (page 21)
3 TABLESPOONS EXTRA-VIRGIN OLIVE OIL, plus more for drizzling
1/2 MEDIUM YELLOW ONION, chopped
1 MEDIUM CARROT, peeled and chopped
2 CELERY STALKS, chopped
3 GARLIC CLOVES, finely chopped
1/4 POUND PANCETTA, diced
2 TABLESPOONS CHOPPED FRESH SAGE
SALT AND FRESHLY GROUND PEPPER
FRESHLY GRATED PARMESAN CHEESE for garnishing

Put the beans and their soaking water in a soup pot and add more cold water if needed to cover the beans by 1 inch.
Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, partially covered, until beans just begin to soften, about 30 minutes.

In a medium, heavy skillet over medium-low heat, warm the 3 tablespoons olive oil. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, pancetta, 1 tablespoon of the sage, and a little salt and pepper, and sauté very slowly to draw out the flavor of the aromatics and pancetta, about 20 minutes. Do not allow the vegetables and pancetta to brown.

Add the vegetables and pancetta to the beans, season with salt, and simmer, partially covered, until the beans are tender, about 1 hour. Check the water level often and add more water if needed. This dish is best when the beans are a little soupy.

During the final 5 minutes of cooking, add the remaining 1 tablespoon sage and adjust the seasonings.

Serve the beans in warmed shallow bowls. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Substitution Note: Cranberry beans will also work nicely in this simple recipe, or try Good Mother Stallard beans.

Boston Baked Beans

1 POUND EUROPEAN SOLDIER, WHITE NAVY, or YELLOW EYE BEANS, soaked (page 21)
2 TEASPOONS DRY MUSTARD
1 TABLESPOON TOMATO PASTE
1 TEASPOON SALT
1/3CUP DARK MOLASSES
1/4 CUP LIGHTLY PACKED BROWN SUGAR
2 TABLESPOONS MAPLE SYRUP
1/2 POUND SALT PORK, rinsed, dried, and scored in several places with a sharp knife (optional)
1/2 LARGE YELLOW ONION, thinly sliced
SALT AND FRESHLY GROUND PEPPER

Put the beans and their soaking water in a stockpot and add more cold water if needed to cover the beans by 1 inch. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the beans are beginning to soften, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 250 F.

Drain the beans, reserving the broth. If necessary add enough water to the broth to measure 2 cups.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the broth, mustard, tomato paste, salt, molasses, brown sugar, and maple syrup.

Put half of the beans in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot with a lid. Top with the salt pork (if using) and half of the sliced onion. Add the remaining beans and top with the remaining onion.

Pour the broth mixture over the beans, cover, and bake until the beans are soft, the pork is meltingly tender, and the sauce is thick and clings to the beans, 5 to 7 hours. Stop and check occasionally to make sure there is enough liquid in the beans, and add water if necessary, but not too much. Season to taste with salt and pepper.