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Bruschetta with Cannellini Beans

Yield: about 30-36 bruschette, plus some bonus bean mix (see bonus soup recipe!)

  • 1 loaf crusty Italian sweet baguette
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 cups cooked cannellini beans
  • 1/4 lb. pancetta, in 2-3 thick slices, or 1/3 cup slivered sun dried tomatoes plus 1 Tbs. pimenton (some hot and some mild as you like)
  • 2 shallots
  • 4-6 cloves garlic (about 5 tsp. chopped)
  • 2 fresh sage leaves, or 1/2 tsp. dried sage
  • 1/3 cup parsley leaves (no thick stems)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Thinly slice the baguette, making about 30-36 slices, depending on the size of the loaf. Brush one side of each bread slice lightly with oil, using about 2 Tbs. altogether. Preheat oven to 375°F., or light a grill. Bake or grill bread slices until crusty (store in an airtight container for up to a week).

Cut the pancetta into 1/4 inch-wide slivers, if you’re using it. If not, coarsely chop the sun dried tomatoes. Finely chop shallot, garlic, sage leaves and parsley and set each aside separately. 

In a heavy frying pan, heat remaining olive oil, and fry pancetta until crisp on medium-low heat. (skip this step if not using pancetta). Add chopped shallots, continue to cook until well softened. Add garlic, sage, sun dried tomatoes and pimenton if you're using them, and cook another couple of minutes. Add beans, and cook for just a few minutes, to meld the flavors. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

When ready to serve, make sure bean dip is hot; if it has been made ahead, thin slightly if necessary before reheating. Mix in most of the parsley, mound a tablespoon on each bruschetta, and serve, sprinkling more parsley on top.

Note: The beans can be served as a warm self-serve dip (a fondue pot works great) with the toasts on the side.

Tomorrow's Bean Soup

Yield: 4 hearty servings

  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 cup cooked, seasoned cannellini beans from above recipe
  • 1 cup canned diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups chicken broth (packaged is fine)

Heat oil in a heavy saucepan. Add onions, carrot and celery and cook over medium-low heat, covered, for 3-4 minutes. Stir. Cook again, uncovered, for another few minutes until onions are just beginning to turn golden.

Add beans, tomatoes and chicken broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently for about 15 minutes, until vegetables are soft and soup is thickened.