Tuscan Beans {recipe} – Slow Cooked, Fast

Cannellini White Beans with Sage

Cannellini beans.

Imported tuna packed in olive oil.

Deep, dark green Tuscan kale sliced into plush, velvet ribbons.

Sounds like the beginning of a recipe, yes? …

Long-simmered in a pot of homemade chicken stock with an entire head of garlic, together they could be something warm and comforting and deliciously deep with flavor like this Kale and Cannellini Bean Stew.

Or this Chicken Stew with Kale and White Beans.

Or even a variation on this dish of White Beans with Avocado, Bacon, and Herbs.



None of the above.

Oh, I ate all those things — cannellini beans, tuna, and kale — in the last few weeks. Just not all together as a single gourmet gorgeous glowing anti-aging deep delicious hearty, heart-warming dish.

I ate beans straight from the can for dinner one night.

I ate tuna for dinner another night. Pop lid. Fork. Straight from the jar.

I ate chopped raw kale for lunch. Not a kale salad, but chopped kale. Each piece plucked straight from the salad spinner with my fingers, sometimes dipped in a bowl of salt accidentally sitting on the counter.

I’ve also choked down a spoonful of ricotta cheese for breakfast several mornings. On more than one lunch occasion, I’ve cut into a block of cold raw tofu still sitting in the soy-clouded water bath in its original peel-back plastic container with a fork like it was a piece of cake.

A square of dark chocolate? A handful of dried cherries? Half a bottle of red wine? Together they could have been components of a pretty intense cake.

Each one, in its individual entirety, however, has actually been a complete, though totally unbalanced, dinner.

How on earth could this be the recent dining history of a food blogger?!

It’s not.

Because I am not a food blogger.

I finally figured this out today. Rather, I’ve finally admitted out-blog what I’ve known in the back of my mind for a very long-slash-short-slash-depends-on-your-universe-mine-is-internet time.

(So, i.e. “long time.”)

I am not a food blogger. I may never have been a food blogger.

Or, you know, maybe I am a food blogger who just needs to get this train of thought back on its tracks.

Even as I am sitting here trying to write this very post, I am stopping mid-sentence. I am getting up to make myself lunch of last night’s leftover under whatever straight out of the fridge, straight out of the styrofoam fliptop to-go box, cold, impaled with the only utensil within reach, a single disposable (but clean and unused?!) chopstick. I am coming to back to ride out my train of thought, but find myself now completely derailed.

So I start over.

And when I have five sentences on the screen five incredibly painful hours later, none of them go together.

At least not “together” in the way a half-educated, semi-literate sane adult person puts sentences together.

My entire existence is this way right now. I don’t know what it is. My own laziness? Short attention span prone to any and all distractions? Or is it something outside my control, like the speed of life? I can’t write a complete sentence. I can’t put together an entire dish. I can’t even scratch a line all the way through an item on my to-do list. Oh, I can scratch part of it out. Like maybe the middle third of “CVS: toilet paper, floss picks, conditioner.”

I stopped at the drugstore and only remembered to get floss picks?!

At one time, I blamed twitter, but I’m starting to believe that the short, Tourettes-like bursts of dissociated, disposable, unintelligible nonsense of twitter is not the cause, but a symptom of a larger, much deeper schizosocial problem of hyperactive information overload at warp-speed in every aspect of life.

I tried to slow it down and focus both my attention and energy a few times in the last few months. I soaked dried beans overnight. I simmered them for hours on the stovetop with garlic and sage. I had planned to turn actual pages of an actual, physical book while they cooked.

I ended up with 98 tabs open in firefox on my tablet, one of them three different opening sentences to a yet-to-be-completed post in wordpress.

And then I ate the beans straight from the pot with a ladle while finishing this post.
Dried White (Cannellini) Beans

Tuscan Beans

Recipe from The Joy of Cooking, page 255.

This recipe calls for fresh sage, but substituting the equivalent amount of any fresh herb of your choice would work. I recommend rosemary, thyme, or oregano. I am not sure how the beans would taste with a combination.

makes 6-8 servings


1 pound (about 2 cups) dried cannellini, pinto or cranberry beans, rinsed and picked over
12 fresh sage leaves
3 garlic cloves, halved
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
salt and black pepper
2-3 tablespoons olive oil for serving


Soak dried beans: Soak overnight in 3 to 4 times as much water as beans. Remove any that float.

Drain soaked beans. Combine in a large pot with sage, garlic, and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add water to cover by 3 inches. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, partially cover, and simmer gently until tender, about 45 minutes.

Drain the beans and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve hot, war, or at room temperature, drizzling each portion with about 1 teaspoon of extra-virgin olive oil.

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  • An admirer

    Why are you so full of self-doubt?  Whose definition of ‘food blogger’ do you fail
    to meet?  You’re a wonderful writer, very
    evocative, and if you pick at food instead of ‘creating’ every day, or you’re
    not terribly inspired right now, so what? 
    You still manage to produce a compelling article out of it and at least
    you’re picking at the good stuff, not chemical-saturated insta-fud (though we
    all indulge in that dirty little secret from time-to-time as well).  Don’t be so hard on yourself.  You’re clearly a woman of great talent – you created
    TasteSpotting, that site of worship for the food-obsessed, for ****’s sake!  Have some faith in yourself.  Allow your blog – like your life – to continue evolving in a way that suits you, and to hell with everyone else and what their
    definitions might be.  It’s your
    originality that makes you so interesting.

    I love food, love cooking and use it as a way of showing love
    for others, but right now I’m living on my own, I’ve had a bad year, lost
    direction and most of the time I can’t be bothered with all the prep involved
    if it’s just for me.  Tuna in olive oil? Cannellini
    beans out of the tin? Raw kale straight from the salad spinner (if only they
    sold kale in Paris…)?  Manna to my tastebuds!

  • Sarah Kenney

    I love when people are completely honest on blogs.  Food bloggers look like they cook gourmet meals every night of the week with “firework finale” multi-course meals on weekends.  None of us do.  My kids joke that we have “Subway Tuesdays”…”Whole Food Thursday”…and “Pizza Fridays”. That leaves me pulling together usually soup/salad meals the rest of the time.  On the weekends, I do indulge in trying out something fanciful and then working on my photography but I would imagine most food bloggers are somewhat on a similar schedule!    I did come here to say, though, that your photography is what grabbed me off of TasteSpotting! ~Sarah from “Snippets of Thyme”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Louise-Mellor/1288306268 Louise Mellor

    ha, as scattered and crazy as this post is- somehow i completely understood it.  i feel like my brain is working the same way.  all of what you said and then throw in 4 kids and 3 dogs… they all expect me to actually put the dinner on a plate on the dinner table.  happy holidays…

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