Last week we had our first hard frost. Autumn had been teasing us with frost warnings for almost a week, though nothing had come of it yet. We’d picked the last of the tomatoes and peppers, and our counters overflowed until we made the last batch of sauce and Michael chopped about 10 pounds of sweet peppers and a garden hod full of various Anaheim and Numex peppers. Those are tucked away in the freezer for winter pots of chili.
Then last Friday the real thing came. Michael ran out in the dark and chopped down the last of the basil, and filled a bucket with the stalks. We watered it and let it sit in the garage overnight until we could process all the basil into pesto and basil cubes to freeze for the winter. Our homegrown basil pesto adds wonderful flavor to just about any pasta or other Italian dish, bringing back memories of the vibrant summer garden. So we stirred some into a pot of cannellini beans with mushrooms and spinach, and sopped up the juice with hunks of bread. It was a good autumn evening meal.
The original recipe as printed in Wegmans Menu magazine calls for several Wegmans brand products. I adapted the recipe for our homemade vegetable broth, pesto, and home cooked beans rather than canned, but of course you can substitute with purchased products. The recipe calls for dry white wine, and I chose chardonnay. Grana Padano cheese is a cousin to Parmigiano-Reggiano, with a flavor that’s more subtle. Both go well with this dish.
Tuscan Cannellini Beans with Mushrooms, Spinach, and Pesto
- 6-quart heavy bottom pot with lid
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion (chopped)
- 8 ounces baby bella mushrooms (quartered)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- ½ cup chardonnay
- ½ cup vegetable broth
- 3 cups cooked cannellini beans, (or 2 cans beans)
- ¼ cup basil pesto
- 6 ounces fresh baby spinach
- sea salt (to taste)
- freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (or Grana Padano cheese)
- Heat the olive oil in the pot over medium heat, and then add the onions. Sauté until golden, about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add the mushrooms and garlic, and sauté until the mushrooms soften, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid reduces by half, about 8 to 10 minutes.
- Add the broth and beans. Cover and bring to a simmer, cooking until the beans are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Add the pesto and stir, then fold in the spinach. Cook, stirring, until the spinach wilts, about 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve in bowls with a sprinkling of the cheese.