Folks, I’m taking a deep breath. This post is about one of the easiest, most laid-back dishes in my repertoire. While I did snap a few photos, I didn’t stress about the lighting or try to style the food or plating. I just wanted to do an easy-breezy blog post since it’s been a while.
Most everyone I know has a lot going on- everyone has periods where things get crazy, time is maxed out, and they feel completely spread thin. So I try not to go on TOO much about how nuts everything feels, because it’s like “boo hoo, you’re not the only one who has a million things to do and no time to do them in”. But the past couple weeks were frantic even by my standards. Blogging, of course, didn’t even make the list of things to do during this time, but I hope to rectify that in the next week or two before things get busy again with my sister’s wedding.
The Friday morning of Memorial weekend, I left for my sister’s bachelorette party in Nashville. I had worked all week and tried to get things ready bit by bit- shopping for gifts, laundry, making sure there was food for the cats, a trip to the library for books on tape and Nashville guides, and all the other little pre-trip things that needed attending to. Packing and straightening the house, of course, always gets left until the last possible minute. So, as I was trying to get things together at 10:30 Thursday night, I got an unexpected call from my friend Youn, an old acquaintance from my Toulouse days. He and a friend were traveling around the U.S. and wanted to know, could they possibly come and stay for a few days? Of course! I replied, while inwardly starting to panic. The house was reasonably tidy- I don’t like to come home to a mess- but it was nowhere near “house-guest clean”. I would have to drive 10 hours, then spend a few hours cleaning Monday night, because I had to work on Tuesday and they were arriving that evening. Also sandwiched into the week’s schedule were two Scarlet Oaks shows, one of which was in Cleveland.
Long story short, I pulled everything together the best I could and we had a nice time (more about their visit in a later post), but coming back from a trip and then entertaining for 5 days left me wiped out. Sunday I wanted to cook, but I knew I needed to do something hyper-simple. My mind jumped to this dish of white beans with tomato and sage (one I’ve made many times before) because of the abundance of sage in my herb garden right now. This is one of the easiest dishes I know, and it goes great with some grilled Italian sausages. Unfortunately the weather didn’t cooperate so our sausages were pan-grilled in the cast-iron skillet, but that actually made things even easier. I threw together a green salad as well as some cucumbers with labneh (thick strained yogurt), scallion, lemon and parsley, we cracked open a bottle of red, and reveled in our simple feast as we breathed a sigh of relief at not having anywhere to be or anyone to entertain. While I love having guests, a quiet evening with my sweetheart was just what I needed to get grounded and catch my breath.
If your sage is blowing up right now too, check out this post from Clotilde of Chocolate & Zucchini on 45 things to do with fresh sage!
This recipe is originally from a low-fat cookbook, and you can certainly choose to make it that way, but I of course like it with generous amounts of olive oil. Obviously, you can cook the beans from dried, or use fresh tomatoes if in season, but the point is that you can open a few cans and have a pretty tasty and respectable side dish ready in about 15 minutes. For the vegetarian folks out there, you could certainly serve this alongside veggie sausage or even some risotto to get the complete rice+beans protein combo.
2 15 or 19-oz cans cannellini beans*, rinsed and drained (I prefer the bigger cans if you can find them)
1 28-oz can good quality diced tomatoes, drained, juice reserved*
3-6 cloves garlic, depending on size, to yield about 2 Tbs minced
about 25-30 washed sage leaves, to yield 3-4 Tbs minced
salt & pepper to taste
*Another type of white bean can be substituted if necessary.
**My version appears more “saucy” because I used whole canned plum tomatoes and just squished them up with my hands as I added them to the pot. Remember, this dish is all about whatever’s easiest.
Put a few Tbs of olive oil in a medium-sized heavy saucepan over medium-low heat. When warm, add the garlic, stirring frequently (you want it to soften but not brown). After a couple minutes, increase the heat slightly and add the sage. Cook for a couple more minutes, then add the drained tomatoes. Cook for a few minutes to blend the flavors, then add the beans and cook until heated through. If the dish seems too dry, add a bit of the reserved tomato juice. Drizzle a little more olive oil on top if desired, and serve.