This ragout is the ideal accompaniment for leg of lamb, lamb chops, and broiled chicken; it could even be a meal in itself if you add sausage and pancetta. If you thin the mixture with some broth, you will have a wonderful bean soup. Add some cooked pasta shells and you have pasta e fagioli.
Soak the beans overnight in cold water and drain. Cover the beans with fresh cold water in a medium saucepan. Simmer covered until tender but not mushy, 45 to 60 minutes. Drain, reserving the cooking liquid. (Do not cook them al dente, but it is better to err on the side of too firm than too soft as they will cook a little longer in the ragout.)
Heat the oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook covered until translucent, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 to 2 minutes more. Add the beans and the reserved cooking liquid and the tomatoes with their juices. Simmer covered until the beans are tender and the flavors blend, 10 to 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If the mixture is dry, add chicken stock, water, or more tomato juice.
For White Bean Ragout with Sausage and Pancetta, cook
© 1998 Joyce Goldstein. All rights reserved.