White beans and dreams

By Christina Collins

When I first got married, I didn’t have much experince in the kitchen outside the Italian-American household I grew up in. So when I cooked, I tended to cook what I knew how to make. This meant lots of meatballs, and lots of pasta! One day my new hubster said to me, “You know babe, I would really love to eat something other than pasta.” I felt like I was punched in the gut! Who doesn’t like macaroni and ‘gravy?’ That’s when I realized that I really didn’t know how to cook.

I threw myself into reading recipe books and started to really experiment in the kitchen. In retrospect, that confession by Brett is what led me to discover my passion for being in the kitchen.

Long after I learned how to do more as a cook than cover everyone in gravy, (that’s red sauce to the rest of you) there was this one night when I really wanted my macaroni fix.  So I decided to try a new recipe and decided on Michael Chiarello’s Tuscan Cannelloni Beans. As I was cooking, I realized I preparing a sauce that would go very well over a pasta.  Inspired by this, I started using cannellini beans in place of pasta for many of my favorite sauces.

The great thing about working with these beans is their soft, subtle texture adds a natural creaminess to a dish and also acts as a natural thickner. Cannellinis absorb flavors very well, especially complimenting garlic, tomatoes, wines and broths.

I’ve really come to enjoy making a great bean dish and it’s all thanks to learning how to step out of my culinary comfort zone. Making connections in the kitchen is always exciting, and the learning never stops. It’s what I love most about cooking.

Any given bean day…

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