Creamy Cannellini Beans with Fennel

063Tuscan white beans, known as cannellini beans, are a staple in my pantry and make it easy to put together a healthy, satisfying meal in very little time.

Whether it’s for a snack, a bowl of soup or a salad, beans (especially canned), just make life easier. This dish is so creamy (without any cream) and rich-tasting, I offer it as a primo piatto (first course) with bruschette, in place of the usual soup or salad.  I often double the recipe because it makes great leftovers. The next night, all I have to do is prepare a plate of broccolini or a simple salad dressed only with olive oil and fresh-squeezed lemon juice or red wine vinegar and dinner is done! The finishing touch to this fulfilling, flavorful meal is a generous drizzle of a full-bodied, robust extra-virgin olive oil. This is a perfect dish to use a robust olive oil, as the the sweetness of the fennel and the starchy component of the beans, soften the boldness of the oil creating a perfect, delicious balance of flavor.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and cut into thick slices
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cans (15-ounces) cannellini beans, (do not drain)
  • 1 lemon, zest and 2 tablespoons juice
  • 3-4 Fresh rosemary sprigs, plus extra for garnish
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (Robust) for drizzle
  1. With a sharp knife, remove the stem ends of the fennel bulb, trimming away any stems and fronds. Slice the bulb in half lengthwise (top to stem end of bulb). Cut each half into thick slices. In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil and saute the fennel 6-7 minutes and then add the garlic and cook another minute. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Stir in the beans with the liquid in the cans, as this adds to the creaminess of the dish.
  3. Add the lemon zest, rosemary and chicken broth and then bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Serve in shallow bowls and drizzle with robust olive oil and a small sprig of fresh rosemary. A platter of bruschette with the same robust oil is the perfect accompaniment.

 

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