Joe Yonan is the first person to admit that he’s a bean guy.
The Washington Post food editor has written a number of vegetarian-friendly cookbooks in the past 10 years, but his latest, “Cool Beans: The Ultimate Guide to Cooking with the World’s Most Versatile Plant-Based Protein, with 125 Recipes” (Ten Speed Press, $30), focuses on what is clearly his favorite subject.
Red beans, black beans, spotted beans, tiny beans, oblong beans. If you can think of a bean, Yonan has cooked with it, and he’s compiled years of knowledge into a celebration of this nutrient-rich ingredient that he argues can be substituted for meat in any dish.
He offers general cooking advice — e.g., cook a pot of beans every week to use a little each day and don’t ever, ever throw out the cooking broth — as well as specific techniques to bring out the best of each varietal.
He orders specialty beans, such as the borlotti or cranberry beans called for in this recipe, on the internet, usually through Rancho Gordo (rancho gordo.com), but higher end grocery stores are starting to carry other brands, such as Elegant Beans or the Idaho-based Zursun.
The idea for this dish comes from New Jersey chef Michelle Fuerst, Yonan writes. She calls the combination of pasta, beans and bread crumbs her “triple carb threat.”
“Breadcrumbs are an essential element of so many great pasta dishes, adding that irresistible crunch that here balances the creamy borlotti (aka cranberry) beans and the al dente pasta. An unorthodox addition is a little red miso, which provides the salt and umami you’d get from, say, anchovies.”
ORECCHIETTE WITH BORLOTTI BEANS, BITTER GREENS AND LEMONY BREAD CRUMBS
From “Cool Beans: The Ultimate Guide to Cooking with the World’s Most Versatile Plant-Based Protein, with 125 Recipes”
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra- virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 cup panko or other dry breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 1 pound dried orecchiette pasta
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 6 cups lightly packed baby bitter greens, such as baby kale, arugula, mizuna, radicchio or a mix
- 2 cups cooked borlotti (cranberry) beans, drained, liquid reserved
- 1 tablespoon red miso
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium- high, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil until shimmering. Add bread crumbs and cook, stirring frequently, until browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a small cup and stir in lemon zest and the 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
Add pasta to boiling water and cook 1 to 2 minutes less than the package directions specify, until al dente.
While pasta is cooking, set a large deep skillet or a Dutch oven over medium and heat remaining 1/4 cup oil until shimmering. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until soft, about 6 minutes.
Add greens, cover and cook, tossing occasionally, just until wilted, 3 to 4 minutes.
Uncover and stir in beans. Turn off heat and cover to keep warm.
When pasta is cooked, drain in a colander, reserving 1 cup of cooking water.
In a small bowl, whisk miso with a little pasta cooking water and stir it into beans and greens mixture. Add pasta, tossing and stirring.
Add more of cooking water and/or bean cooking liquid, as needed, to moisten pasta and create a little sauce. Stir in one-third of breadcrumbs and pepper. Taste and add more salt, if desired.
Transfer to a large serving platter or individual shallow bowls or plates, and top with remaining bread crumbs. Drizzle (or squeeze) lemon juice over top and sprinkle with the red pepper flakes, if desired. Serve hot. Serves 6.
Nutritional information unavailable.