This is big-hearted Italian-style grub. OK, it’s peasant food, comfort food with an international flair. Anna Lappe’ and Bryant Terry illuminate the term ‘grub’ in their book, Grub: “organic and sustainably raised whole and locally grown foods; produced with fairness from seed to table; good for our bodies, our communities, and our environment.”
This notion of grub is understood by Italians who are fervently loyal to food traditions which embody ancient and local histories. The Slow Food movement started there as a result of impassioned family cooks who welcomed a certain degree of modernism, but not at the loss of regional food tradition.
This week’s grub: Cannellini beans and Italian sausage, garlicky braised greens, bread and a head of roasted garlic (all available locally at Farmers Markets; several possible vendors are listed below). For dessert, maybe slices of apple cooked until tender in butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Vanilla ice cream on the side.
The cooking of a slow meal is something to savor: the chopping, the stirring and tasting, tunes in the background, maybe a dance while the beans bubble away, a sip of wine, and in the end, the glory of a killer meal.
Fresh Cannellinis are a find. Make one big pot full and freeze in quart containers. (If you haven’t cooked beans before check a basic cookbook for more detail.) All kinds of ways to embellish Cannellini beans after they’re cooked. To assemble the local meal pictured above cut the top off one or two heads of garlic, drizzle with olive oil, wrap in foil and roast in the oven at 350º for 40 minutes; meanwhile, finely chop an onion and one large carrot, sauté until softened and then add cooked beans and more rosemary and thyme. Sauté Italian sausage links separately. Braise a pan of greens as usual, but briefly cook thinly sliced garlic in a little oil before adding the greens.
Now roll up your peasant sleeves and assemble this bountiful local plate: cannellini beans with a sausage on the side, a big spoonful of garlicky greens, fresh bread and roasted garlic. The greens complement the beans, beans enhance the sausage, and the roasted garlic harmonizes with everything on the plate.
Another possibility: puree the cooked beans, spread some on a toasted crostini with a drizzle of olive oil and a piece of the roasted garlic. A glass of wine on the side, maybe in the backyard, this is the way to start a meal and have yourself an Italian moment, strictly local.
Skagit River Ranch, and Sea Breeze Farm both make delectable Italian sausage among many other locally grown and produced food products.
Stoney Plains Organic Farm has a variety of produce including canellini, cranberry and black beans.
A visit to Plum Forest Farm today on Vashon Island. Carrots harvested moments before were rinsed and eaten right away. Thank you, Rob and Joanne.