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Note: Look for young, tender bright-green Swiss chard leaves with thin stalks for this Tuscan recipe, which can be served immediately after it’s made, or reheated after a few days in the refrigerator. It also freezes well. Not enough time to home-cook the beans? Buy them canned (use two or three 15-oz. cans, rinsed and drained, for this recipe). From “Lidia’s Favorite Recipes,” by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali.
• 1/2 lb. dried cannellini beans (see Note)
• 1 tsp. coarse sea salt or kosher salt, or to taste, plus 1/2 teaspoon for cooking dried beans
• 2 lb. big unblemished Swiss chard leaves
• 6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, or more to taste
• 4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
• 1 tbsp. tomato paste
• 1/2 tsp. hot red pepper flakes, or to taste
• 1 c. canned Italian plum tomatoes (prefereably San Marzano), crushed by hand
Rinse the beans, and put them in a bowl with cold water to cover by at least 4 inches. Let soak in a cool place for 8 hours or overnight. Drain beans and transfer to large saucepan with fresh cold water to cover by a few inches. Bring to boil, partically covered, and cook beans about 40 minutes, until tender but not mushy. Turn off heat and stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt; let beans cool to absorb cooking liquid and seasoning. Taste, and adjust salt if needed.
Bring 6 quarts water to boil in stockpot. Meanwhile, clean Swiss chard leaves and cut off stems (save for use in a soup later, if desired). Slice leaves crosswise every 2 inches or so, into long strips. When water is boiling, drop in all sliced chard at once. Bring water back to boil and cook chard, covered, for about 15 minutes, until thoroughly tender — check piece with a thick middle vein to be sure. Drain cooked chard well in colander. Drain beans.
Heat 1/4 cup olive oil and sliced garlic in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until garlic is sizzling, about 2 minutes. Drop tomato paste into clear spot in the pan, stir and toast it for a minute. Toast red pepper flakes in a cleared hot spot, too, then pour in crushed tomatoes and stir everything together. Bring tomatoes to boil, and spill in the beans. Stir, season with salt, and bring back to simmer, stirring occasionally. Stir in chard and bring to boil over high heat. Cook rapidly for a couple of minutes to reduce liquid, tossing beans and greens over and over. As juices thicken, drizzle remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil all over, toss it in with the vegetables, and simmer for another 2 or 3 minutes, until most of liquid has evaporated.
Serve right away, or refrigerate to reheat later.
Nutrition information per serving:
Calories 270 Fat 14 g Sodium 806 mg Carbohydrates 28 g Saturated fat 2 g
Calcium 107 mg Protein 10 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 8 g
Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 vegetable, 1½ bread/starch, ½ lean meat, 2½ fat.