Beans, beans the magical fruit, the more you eat the more you…..
I don’t need to complete the rest of that limerick for you now, do I?
I didn’t think so.
The fact is, that little ditty is burned into the minds of most kids by the time they’re ten years old, and may go a long way toward explaining why so many people have an aversion to eating beans. Let’s face it, the social implications of a poorly timed meal rich with beans can be staggering, especially for folks who don’t eat them as a normal part of their diet. You see, our bodies tend to adjust over time to the gas producing effects of beans, lessening their impact on our digestive tracts the more that we eat them. This is a good thing, because as an inexpensive source of protein that is low in fat and high in fiber and nutrients, we should all be cooking with, and eating more beans.
What is it about beans that make them so famously flatulent anyway? Beans are rich in fiber and resistant starches called “oroligosaccharides”. These carbohydrates cannot be digested by enzymes found in the small intestine alone, so they are passed to the large intestine where they are broken down by a process called bacterial fermentation. The majority of our flatulence is a result of this fermentation. Apparently, as the body becomes more conditioned to this type of fermentation it becomes more efficient at it and produces less gas in the process. Hey, I’m no doctor but I love beans both for the flavor and texture they bring to dishes as well as for their terrific health benefits….gas be damned. If you’re with me let’s get cooking, shall we?
Saveur Magazine recently ran a recipe similar to this one and it immediately caught my eye. Theirs was a non-pasta version of the Italian classsic, Orrechietti with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe, one of my all-time favorite pasta dishes. Their twist was quite true to the original in flavor, but made more stew-like by substituting the beans for the pasta and cooking with enough water to crerate a lovely stock.
I’ve taken their variation a step further by introducing chorizo to the mix and adding a liberal amount of rosemary and preserved lemon to infuse the dish with some middle-eastern overtones. Much of this flavor transformation has to do with the preserved lemon added just before serving. I make mine with dried chilies and coriander seeds and they add an unmistakable, yet nuanced contribution here. If you don’t have any handy the dish can certainly be made without, but if you’re at all curious, then use this recipe as an excuse to make up a batch and give them a whirl, they will change the way you cook, I promise. You can find my recipe for preserved lemons HERE.
Cheers – Steve
- 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 lb. fresh chorizo sausage
- 2 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves finely minced
- 1 cup dried white beans, soaked overnight
- 1 cup dried black beans, soaked overnight
- 2 bunches broccoli rabe, trimmed, stems peeled, cut into 2'' lengths
- 1/2 preserved lemon, diced
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, pull chorizo from its casing, add to the pan and cook, browning on all sides, for about 15 minutes. Remove sausage from pan, and set aside.
- Reduce heat to medium-low, add onions, and cook until soft, about 20 minutes. Add carrots, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add garlic and rosemary and cook for 2 minutes more.
- Return sausage to skillet. Add beans and enough water to cover, about 6 cups. Bring to a boil over high heat, cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until beans are just tender, about 40 minutes. Uncover, increase heat to medium-high, and reduce liquid by half, about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, set a large pot of salted water over high heat and bring to a boil. Fill a large bowl with water and ice. Add broccoli rabe to the boiling, salted water and blanch for 2 minutes (working in batches). Remove blanched broccoli rabe to ice water bath to cool completely.
- When ready to serve, add the broccoli rabe to the pan with the sausage and beans and gently heat to warm through. Add the preserved lemon and season to taste with salt and pepper, then transfer to a large bowl and serve.