Cannellini Beans from Scratch is Well Worth The Effort

stewed beans

Making beans from scratch might take you a little longer but there is absolutely no comparison to the taste, texture and flavor that results. If you’re like most people you have a pantry stocked with canned beans, I do myself, it often allows you to pull together a quick meal during the week, but when you want to slow it down and create an epic meal, dried beans is where it’s at!

The cannellini beans above were slow simmered, infused with aromatics then stewed together with a garlic, tomato and sage sauce. This is a meal in itself, it’s rustic with so much flavor and perfect texture, and the star of this dish are the beans that were made from scratch with some of the dreamy broth it produces as a bonus!

soaking beans

Make it easy on yourself, soak the beans overnight, all you have to do is give them a good rinse, fill a pot with cold water with enough to cover them, pop a lid on and go to bed.

There is a quick soak method out there where you boil the beans for a couple of minutes first, then remove them from the heat, cover and let them sit for an hour. then cook. I’ve tried that method, it didn’t go so well for me, but I much prefer the end result from soaking them overnight.

overnight beans

When you wake up you’ll see how much they puffed up, then you’ll want to drain them and give them a good rinse.

drained beanssimmered beans

Then the fun begins, place the rinsed beans into the pot with fresh water that covers them again. You’ll want to infuse those beans with aromatics, I used a half a bulb of garlic, a handful of fresh sage and my favorite ingredient, a Parmigiano Reggiano cheese rind.

Let’s talk about the cheese rind for a second, you need to have this ingredient for this recipe! You might have your own stash of rinds tucked away in your freezer from cheese you’ve used, if not you can ask your cheesemonger if they would sell you some. I can easily get them from my local Whole Foods, they sell 3 or 4 in a bundle and I’m always impressed how much of a chunk of the cheese they leave on each rind, and that’s what you want, a rind that has some of the cheese still attached.

cooked beans finished

Bring those beans to a boil then reduce the heat to a slow simmer with a lid on top. Mine took almost 2 hours for a pound of cannellini beans but the best way to test them is to taste after about an hour, if they’re still tough continue cooking. Make sure not to rush them or overcook them, you don’t want mushy beans, they should be slightly Al dente.

cannellini beans cooked

The end result should have a slight bite with a soft creamy center.

Now it’s time to remove the cheese rind, sage and just the peels of the garlic because all the cloves will have fallen inside and melted in and produced the most dreamy tasting broth!

cooked beans

This bean dish was such a hit, I can’t imagine it being made with canned beans, it just wouldn’t be the same. The aromatics along with the cheese rind infuses the beans with so much flavor!

toast and beans

Eat them as a side dish or my favorite way is to scatter them on top of toasted crusty bread, each bite is out of this world good!

jarred beans

The other benefit of making beans from scratch is that you’ll probably have some left over, I got around 6 cups of cooked beans from a little over a pound of dried beans. You can tuck them away in your freezer and use them later in a multitude of other dishes, or if you’re like me you’ll make this rustic stewed tomato and bean dish again and again!

4.0 from 1 reviews
Cannellini Beans from Scratch
 
The bean preparation was my own but the actual stewed bean and tomato dish was adapted from the blog "How To Feed A Loon" I tweaked some amounts and additions.
Author:
Ingredients
  • FOR THE BEANS
  • 1 lb. bag of dried cannellini beans
  • a small handful of sage
  • ½ whole garlic bulb
  • 1 Parmigiano Reggiano cheese rind with some cheese still attached
  • FOR THE STEWED BEANS WITH TOMATOES, GARLIC AND SAGE
  • 4 heaping cups of the cooked dried beans
  • ⅓ cup of olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • ⅓ cup of the bean broth
  • 6 sage leaves, chopped fine
  • 1 28 oz.of whole San Marzano tomatoes, drained of all liquid and crushed by hand
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil drizzle
Instructions
  1. Soak the beans overnight.
  2. Drain the beans in the morning then refill the pot with cold water covering the beans.
  3. Infuse the water with your aromatics of sage, garlic and 1 cheese rind.
  4. Bring the beans to a boil, then cover and reduce to a low simmer.
  5. Times vary but you’re looking for a creamy soft inside with a slight bite on the outside. ( mine took almost 2 hours, so keep checking).
  6. When beans are done remove the aromatics, they did their job and keep all that luscious broth as well it's liquid gold!
  7. FOR THE STEWED BEAN DISH
  8. In a large skillet add the olive oil, then add the garlic and chopped sage, cook til golden.
  9. Add the wine and let it evaporate.
  10. Scoop in the beans, along with the flavored broth.
  11. Squeeze in the drained tomatoes.
  12. Season with salt and pepper.
  13. Toss in 3 whole sage leaves and let it simmer until the sauce thickens up a bit and reduces, you don't want a soupy consistency.
  14. When finished drizzle with olive oil.
  15. Serve as a side or on toasty bread.
  16. If you have extra beans you can freeze them or use for another dish, or make this again!

 

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Healthy Fresh Salmon Cakes

salmon cakes

January is the month that everyone wants to do a reset in the eating department, we’ve enjoyed all our goodies during the holidays and now it’s time for some healthier eating.

If  eating salmon is on your regular meal rotation I encourage you to change things up and make these salmon cakes instead of the usual filets.

salmon patties

If you’re a salmon lover these cakes will soon win you over. Tender, juicy chunks of salmon on the inside, lightly crunchy on the outside with no heavy fillers that mask the actual salmon taste and oh so flavorful, they are amazing!

chopped up salmon

The reason these salmon cakes are so scrumptious is that they’re made with fresh salmon, not canned, it really makes a big difference in taste and over all texture. If you check out some recipes on the Internet you’ll find that many salmon cakes are made with cooked, fresh salmon. I prefer forming them in the raw state, like you would a burger, I feel they retain their juiciness that way.

salmon cake ingredients

The added ingredients which are vegetables are diced small, sautéed then mixed into the fresh chopped salmon. You can do this all ahead of time getting your prep work done because they take no time at all to cook.

Stick with wild caught salmon rather than farmed, I can always find it available here. I once discussed this topic with my fish monger at Whole Foods because they do sell farm raised there, but he went into deep length saying that their farm raised salmon is sustainable and ethical and raised the right way so that might be another option for you.

mixed ingredients

After the sautéed veggies cool down they get gently mixed into the salmon along with some added spice and binding agents with no need for eggs.

formed salmon cake

A key tip is to form all the salmon cakes then refrigerate them for at least 2 hours, even overnight if you wish. This firms them up and they’re able to keep their shape when cooked. I would not recommend forming them and cooking immediately, they won’t be sturdy enough.

tray of salmon cakes

I like to use a three inch biscuit cutter that I have to form the salmon cakes. I place the form on the pan I’m going to stick in the fridge, spoon the mixture inside filling to an inch deep, press it compact then I lift the biscuit cutter right off and a perfect shape is formed.

formed salmon patties

After they’re chilled they lift off easily with a spatula.

cooked salmon patties

I like to crisp up the top and bottom on the stove top first, then finish them off in the oven.

plated salmon cake

All you need is the a little tartar sauce, a squeeze of lemon and a nice salad on the side and you’re on your way to a healthier and very tasty January!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Healthy Fresh Salmon Cakes
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1-1/2 lbs. fresh salmon or 4 filets, skin removed. hand chopped into small chunks ( I was able to make 7 cakes with that amount)
  • 1 celery stalk, small dice
  • ¼ onion, small dice
  • 2 green onions, sliced small
  • 2 small mini red peppers or half of a large red pepper, small dice
  • 1 yellow mini pepper or ¼ of a large, small dice
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
  • a pinch of cayenne
  • ½ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 large garlic clove, chopped fine
  • 1 heaping tablespoon chopped parsley
  • ⅓ cup full fat mayo
  • ⅓ cup panko bread crumbs and a little extra to coat the top and bottom of the cakes
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of Djon mustard
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Drizzle the bottom of a small sauté pan with olive oil and toss in all the diced veggies, onions, peppers, celery and garlic, cooking until translucent. Turn off heat and let them cool down completely.
  2. Into a bowl add the chopped salmon, the cooled down veggies, the mayo, zest, breadcrumbs and Djon and a little salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Gently toss well to incorporate ingredients.
  4. Form your salmon cakes into 3x1 inch deep patties. Note: I use a biscuit cutter to form mine as stated in the post.
  5. Refrigerate the salmon cakes for at least 2 or more hours for best results, I would not form and then cook them right away.
  6. When it's time to cook, heat the oven up to 450F.
  7. Drizzle the bottom of an oven proof skillet with olive oil.
  8. Pour some panko breadcrumbs on a flat plate and press the bottom and top of each salmon cake into it then into the heated skillet.
  9. When each cake is lightly golden on each side place the oven proof skillet into the oven and finish it off, anywhere to around 6 or 8 additional minutes, oven vary so you be the judge.
  10. Serve with a squeeze of lemon and tartar sauce, or an aioli of your choice.
  11. NOTE; I had some leftover and the next day I heated them at 350 just until warm and they were still great.

 

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Creamy Feta Dip with Toasted Pita Chips

feta and pita

Everyone needs a go-to dip to have for a special occasion, one that requires little work but tastes like a million bucks! NYE is a couple of days away and then game day will be right around the corner, so I thought it would be the perfect time to introduce this creamy feta dip with toasted pita chips.

dip

This dip is so creamy and full of flavor, a little swipe goes a long way. Feta cheese is the shining star along with Greek yogurt and some cream cheese, it’s the perfect blend for a nice smooth dip.

The feta dip itself can be served with an array of fresh sliced veggies, for a healthier version or with my favorite dipper, these toasted pita chips.

cutting pita

I was introduced to this way of preparing the pita chips by a friend of mine years ago, she made it for a girls lunch and we just couldn’t tear ourselves away from them. The chips are thin and crispy but yet sturdy enough to hold up well when dipping.

I’ve made them many times since and they’re always a hit!

One bag of pita yields so many chips! You’re going to cut the pita into 6 or 8 strips with scissors, then snip the tops and end off so you can open it up.

separate. pita

One strip will give you 2 thin pieces. So for 1 whole pita you can get 12 to 16 chips out of it, so if you do a whole bag that’s quite a few chips!

brushed olive oil

Then place the inside rougher side up on a baking sheet and brush each strip with oregano infused olive oil.

pita crackers

I think what makes these so special is definitely the shape and the thinness, as opposed to the thicker triangle shaped ones, and of course the olive oil flavor coming through. I can’t say enough about these dippers, they’re amazing!

They’re the perfect accompaniment to the creamy feta dip. But don’t get me wrong, honestly they go well with any dip! Think crab, shrimp, hummus, white bean, onion, spinach artichoke, I could go on and on.

feta dip

I garnished the top of my dip with olive oil, parsley, red pepper flakes, pistachios and olives but be creative and do what you like.

can of pita

I would encourage you to take the time and make these chips, you won’t be disappointed, it’s the ultimate combo along with the creamy feta dip.

They can be made well in advance and they stay perfect for up to 3 weeks, that is if they last that long! Once you put them out you’ll see them disappear!

I like to store them in a tin can layered between wax paper.

Enjoy!

Creamy Feta Dip with Toasted Pita Chips
 
This dip recipe can be doubled because it stays very well in the fridge, and the dipper chips can be made well in advance.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 8 oz. feta, good quality Greek in brine, patted dry
  • 4 oz. full fat cream cheese, room temp
  • ¼ cup full fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons of oregano infused olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 small garlic clove, grated
  • FOR THE TOASTED PITA CHIPS
  • 1 bag of fresh, Greek pita
  • ¾ cup of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • a light sprinkling of kosher salt to top the chips before toasting
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl add the oil and oregano together and let it sit for 15 minutes to infuse.
  2. Then in food processor first add the feta to break it down, then add in the cream cheese, yogurt, lemon juice and garlic.
  3. Give it all a whirl until it's nice and creamy.
  4. Remove from processor and place into a serving bowl and garnish with a little of the olive oil, parsley, lemon zest, olives or whatever you like.
  5. If making the pita chips, take 1 pita at a time, with a scissor cut 6 to 8 strips then snip the top and bottom off of each strip so you can gently open up the pita and have 2 pieces. (See blog post for example)
  6. Continue cutting the pita into chips then brush each one on the inner rough side with the oregano infused olive oil.( see blog post for visual)
  7. Place onto a rimmed baking sheet, sprinkle them all lightly with a little kosher salt, then into a 400 degree oven for 7 or 8 minutes until golden. Ovens vary so watch closely, you want them golden not burnt, they cook fast.
  8. Remove chips and place on a rack to cool.
  9. Chips can be stored in a tin can layered between wax paper for up to 3 weeks.

 

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