15 May 2011

White Bean and Garlic Herb Sauce

Our kitchen is whole once more! To take full advantage of its gleaming white counters and capacious sink, The Irreverent Cook visited for a week, and we had a memorable time cooking difficult recipes from The Voluptuous Vegan, my favorite cookbook. The Irreverent Cook first made my favorite cake for my birthday, a chocolate vegan cake with hazelnut mousse. Afterwards we went to a nearby farm and picked two elephantine baskets of organic strawberries…for a total of $11. That's about 10 times cheaper than the farmers market! Strawberry picking is fun, easy, and cheap, and it's STRAWBERRY SEASON. Go go go! Just remember that the strawberries should be red all over, especially the bottoms. If they're white on the bottom they're not ripe.

I had been eying a meal in The Voluptuous Vegan for 11 years without making the entire thing at once. So for Shabbat, George, The Irreverent Cook and I decided to finally cook it in our new fancy kitchen.

The Meal:
pumpkin, pecan, and sage ravioli with red chile pasta dough
white bean, garlic, and herb sauce
sautéed arugula with pickled plum vinegar
frizzled leeks

We dug our ravioli machine out of the attic for the first time (although you don't need a ravioli machine to make this recipe). I generously allowed George and The Irreverent Cook to wrestle with the ravioli—I faintly overheard them crying "@$%^&!" in the distance—while I serenely cooked the white bean sauce, the frizzled leeks, and my homemade Jewifiable challah recipe. I've discovered that the challah tastes best when allowed to rise outside in humid weather, kneaded quite thoroughly, and using as little flour as possible. Everyone agreed that I had just birthed an ideal challah, "challah the way it's supposed to be" according to one delighted eater. We washed down the whole delicious meal with high-quality champagne to celebrate my successful completion of qualifying exams. Rubbing my stomach in lazy satiety, I reflected that I had just inhaled the best homemade meal I could remember having in the U.S. To follow this culinary triumph, for dessert we shared sliced strawberries, chocolate hazelnut cake, and delicious Indian spiced loose-leaf chai.

That night The Irreverent Cook went online and ordered a copy of The Voluptuous Vegan so as to recreate these wonders at his/her/its own home. You can read about this eye-opening cookbook and order your own copy here, if you wish.

And I am going to share my version of the white bean sauce with you. This was my second attempt on the sauce—Ms. Kornfeld's version didn't quite work for me—and this time I got it right. The sauce is delightfully mild and gently echoes the sage in the ravioli.

White Bean and Garlic Herb Sauce

2 15-ounce cans of navy or other white beans, drained and rinsed
2 Tablespoons cooking oil
2 Cups of chopped onion (1-2 onions)
8 garlic cloves, smashed, peeled, and minced
1 branch or 5-7 leaves of fresh sage, washed
1 bay leaf
dried thyme
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 Cup broth (No Chicken Broth from Imagine)
fresh ground pepper

  1. In a medium pot, heat the oil. Add the onions. Cook 7 minutes, then add the garlic.
  2. After a few more minutes add the beans, 1 and 1/2 Cups water, and the broth. Also add the sage, bay leaf, and several shakes of dried thyme (to taste).
  3. Cover, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer partially covered for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, take out the sage and bay leaf, and add lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste.
  4. Take a hand-held potato masher or a heavy wooden spoon and mash the beans in the pot until the liquid thickens somewhat. Stir again and serve.

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