This is a marvelous vegetarian dinner that came about through sheer coincidence and necessity. Friends of ours gave us a whole bunch of fresh grown carrots. Some we cooked with maple syrup. And that was a good dish; but we still had a lot of carrots left. So, the idea came about: why not cook them with beans? In this case, white beans, which we keep in stock. Let me add, this dish was prepared with said dried beans. I guess you could do it with canned beans and, yes, it wouldn’t be as time consuming. But the natural taste would not be there. In the Rivera family, we still like beans made from scratch. You could call it a Nuyorican thing.
Now, cooking dried beans takes patience. The cooking time will depend on the size and type of bean. On the internet, it states that you can prepare white beans in 20-30 minutes. In practice, this is not so. Beans take time to cook. It can be anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour or longer. The beans must be cooked till they are tender but not mushy. You just have to keep on testing them until done. Vegetable, like carrots, take less time. What we did was cook the beans for 45 minutes. If, perchance, the beans are still too crunchy for your taste, then cook them longer. Finally, we added the carrots and cook for 15 minutes more. Again, it may take longer, depending upon how tender you want the beans and/or the carrots. Just use common sense.
For seasoning of this dish, we stir-fried onions and garlic in olive oil. Then added salt, pepper, and oregano. Then we added the carrots to the beans with some tomato paste for more flavor. That’s it. Yes, it’s not a quicky meal. But the results, despite the time invested, will be heavenly. In Puerto Rican cuisine the usual partner to beans is rice. This time around we combined the beans with Spanish yellow rice, and it was perfect. In fact, you can also combine the beans with pasta, say spaghetti or linguini, and you’ll have a new take on pasta fazool.
WHITE BEANS WITH CARROTS
1 cup dried white beans (cannellini or great northern)
2 cups carrots, peeled and cut into diagonal 1/4-inch thick pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced into rings
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon fresh chopped oregano or ½ teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon tomato paste
- Rinse the dried beans in water and put them in a large bowl. Cover with water by at least 2 inches and leave to soak overnight.
- Drain and rinse the beans and put them into a pot with a heavy lid. Add just enough cold water to cover them. Bring the beans to a boil, cover and simmer them gently for 45 minutes or until the beans are tender. The cooking time will depend on the size and age of the beans.
- Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a skillet or frypan. Add onions and cook until soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes more. Season with salt, pepper and oregano. Add to beans in pot along with the carrots. Cover and cook 15 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and cook about 2 minutes more. Serve over rice.
Yield: 4-6 servings.