I needed something quick and easy to use up what was leftover from our Easter ham of greed and gluttony but all the recipes I referenced called for a hock and an hour and a half of simmering. Not exactly conducive to a quick and easy after-work dinner. Plus, the dog got the hocks. It would have been cruel to deny her the opportunity to gnaw those bones to a nub.
But then I found this recipe for Fast White-Bean Stew, described as being full of hearty cannellini beans, baby greens, and baked ham. Pretty tasty stuff.
Has anyone else had a hard time finding a good can of organic cannellini beans? Or is it just me? The first can I tried was so lacking in flavor that I haven't bought another can since, but then I bought this other kind and it contained little bean bits rather than whole beans. How do you rinse bean bits? It's gross because you get about three inches of foam on top of the beans in the colander.
As I was preparing this stew, the very first step had me in doubt. A quarter-cup of olive oil sounded like way too much to saute the garlic in, but I trusted in the recipe writer and I glug-glug-glugged all that oil into my pot.
Turns out, I should have followed my gut instinct because it was way too much oil. It ended up pooling on the surface of the stew. If there's anything worse than bean bits, it's pooling oil.
But in spite of that, this is still a really good and fast stew, as the name implies. I wouldn't hesitate to make it again as written below.
Fast White Bean Stew
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
2 T extra-virgin olive oil (for the stew), plus 1 t (for the toasts)
1 (14- to 15-oz) can stewed tomatoes with juice, chopped
1 3/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 (19-oz) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (3 cups)
1/2 lb. baked ham, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 (5-oz) bag baby romaine or baby arugula or baby spinach (10 cups loosely packed)
8 (3/4-inch-thick) slices baguette
Cook garlic in oil in a large heavy pot over moderately high heat, stirring, until golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Add tomatoes with juice, broth, beans, ham, and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes. Stir in greens and cook until wilted, 3 minutes for romaine or 1 minute for arugula.
While stew is simmering, preheat broiler. Put bread on a baking sheet and drizzle with some olive oil. Broil 3 to 4 inches from heat until golden, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes.
Serve stew with toasts.