Tuscan baked beans

Tuscan Baked Beans

Health-Supportive Culinary Arts student Natasha Brunetti wins a market basket challenge with a dish channeling Italy and the UK.

While our Los Angeles campus reopened on June 30, we're hosting a voluntary virtual market basket challenge each week until career students return to our New York campus. This week's focus ingredient was tomato, and Natasha won for a second time with a vegan, gluten-free recipe. Here's how she developed her comfort food dish.

“Food is memory, it’s travel, it’s medicine. It can fill your heart and soothe your soul.”

This year with the many changes and adaptations, I realized I won’t be making my planned trip to see my family in London or my husband’s family in Italy. This is what was on my mind when I saw the beautiful, seasonal market basket ingredient this week of tomatoes.

This hearty tomato-based dish uses tomatoes in two ways, complementing them with natural pairings like garlic, chili and basil. It is a transporting dish and certainly helped to soothe my desire to travel, bringing the UK and Italy into my dining room.

One of the great comfort foods I grew up eating in the UK was beans on toast. Simple, hearty, filling and quick to make, it is a time-honored traditional dish that is tucked away in your back pocket, like an old photo, for when you are in need of the comfort it brings.

I decided to elevate this dish with all the herbs and spices you get from the classic bean soups of Italy. The unassuming dish complements the humble tomato with the ingredients of the surrounding terroir. The aroma of the garlic, tomato, basil and thyme will envelop your senses with a warmth so embracing that it feels like a heavy knit blanket being wrapped around you on a cold and rainy day.

This dish will take you less than 30 minutes to cook and can be used as beans on toast, served with pasta or eaten as a soup. It can be adapted to your own palate, dialing the heat up and down. It is the 35th recipe I have recorded for my Quarantine Kitchen Series on IGTV, so check out the two-minute video to travel with me @plant.to.table, on YouTube or at planttotable.com.

With love from my kitchen to yours.

Recipe

Tuscan baked beans ingredientsTuscan Baked Beans

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon fennel
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 fresh tomato, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 can organic tomato puree
  • 1 can white beans, washed well
  • 2 cups spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme

Directions

  1. Warm oil in a deep pan on a medium-low heat.
  2. Add the fennel and stir. Once the fennel starts to sizzle add the shallots and garlic. Cook on a gentle heat for 5 minutes and add ¼ cup of water if it is cooking too quickly.
  3. Add the fresh tomato, let cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the can of tomato puree and mix together.
  5. Add the salt, pepper, chilli flakes and paprika. Mix together.
  6. Cook for 10 minutes and adjust for seasoning.
  7. Add half the fresh basil, the white beans. Mix and cook for 5 minutes.
  8. Add 1 cup water, stir and let cook for 5 minutes to infuse the flavors.
  9. Add spinach, stir and cook for 5 minutes.
  10. Add fresh thyme and basil before serving for aromatherapy.
  11. Serve as a soup, with pasta or on toasted bread.

See more winning recipes and explore Health-Supportive Culinary Arts.

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