People always ask me how I get ideas for recipes …
… And there is no straightforward answer, other than reading a ton of cookbooks, following my favorite foods on Instagram, trying new ingredients all the time, and waiting for the magic to happen. Sure, I sometimes look at the beautiful Japanese eggplant on the farmers market and the inspiration comes out, but most of the time, the eggplant is not romantic. Take this food, save it as it was, which I imagined when I threw two cans of butter beans in my shopping cart that came close to a bunch of leeks and a packet of “European” butter. I love leeks so much, as well as the idea of cooking them in butter – perhaps more butter than usual – and adding batala beans? There was something poetic about it, and then I couldn’t get rid of the inclusion in my mind.
When I started working on the vision, I realized that I needed acid – vinegar or lemon juice – as well as the form. I really like beans, but without the slightest hint, helping them generously can be as difficult as a plate of homework. Here, the end result, and I’m happy to say, the rest was better.
Beans and Buttered Leeks and Garlicky Toasted Breadcrumbs
That’s all. for. that. toasted. they have a whip. I didn’t have any crumbs to buy in the store, so I lightly baked some small pieces of Tuscan bread, and then wrapped them in a food processor. (If you have an old loaf of bread, you can skip toasting.) It made the finish much stronger and more palatable, and if you have time to prepare that way, go for it. Otherwise, store-bought works best. It’s enough to serve as a snack, especially with a green salad or a slice of bread.
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus some additives
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced finely
shake or two of red pepper
kosher salt and fresh black pepper
1/2 cup bread crumbs (regular, panko or fresh)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large leek, cleaned, trimmed, and cut
3 cups (or cans of 15 15-ounce) boiled butter or lima beans, drained and washed
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
Add the olive oil, garlic, red pepper, salt and pepper, to a large skillet set on low heat and cook for one minute. Turn the heat medium-high and add the bread crumbs in one portion. Allow to sit under the skillet for one minute, then toss and set back. You want the crumbs to be fried and spicy, but you don’t want the garlic to burn, once you see they’re crispy (to taste one), remove them from the skillet in a small bowl.
Add the butter to the same skillet and turn on medium heat. Once the oil melts, add the leeks and cook until soft and sweet, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the beans, toss to combine, and cook until everything is heated, about five minutes. Ideally if the beans are slightly broken, I find that they allow them to absorb the taste of leek and butter – which is especially appreciated if you are using canned beans. Remove from heat and stir in vinegar. Serve in a bowl and pour the olive oil, generously on top of bread crumbs.
PS My love for cabbage is the power of the “hook” on dinner.