Capriata

Grilled Bread with White Bean Puree and Wilted Greens

You may wonder how anything that sounds like mashed beans and wilted greens on bread can be good, but it is better than good—it is wonderful. This dish originates in Apulia, in the south of Italy, and is a peasant snack that feeds your soul as well as your tummy. I use it as a centerpiece in a simple antipasto plate accompanied by a few slices of coppa, strips of pecorino fresco, peperonata, olives, and some slices of tomato, or in winter sun-dried tomatoes.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried white beans
  • 8 tablespoons fruity olive oil, plus additional for the bread
  • 2 to 4 large cloves garlic, very finely minced
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 6 cups greens, such as escarole, Swiss chard, dandelion, or broccoli rabe, rinsed well
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 6 thick slices peasant bread
  • 1 clove garlic, halved

Method

Soak the white beans in water overnight. Drain and rinse. Cover the beans with fresh water and cook until very soft. Drain if necessary. Puree the beans in the food processor or mash well with a fork. Add 6 tablespoons olive oil and the minced garlic (see Note). Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large sauté pan or skillet (not cast iron) over medium heat. Add the greens and cook, stirring constantly, a few minutes. Sprinkle with the vinegar and continue to cook until wilted. Drain the greens in a colander, then chop fine but not to a mush. Season with salt and pepper. The beans and greens can be served warm or at room temperature.

Brush both sides of the bread slices with olive oil, then grill or broil the slices until golden and toasted on both sides. Rub the hot bread with the cut garlic, spread with the bean puree, and top with the wilted chopped greens.