Saturday, March 6, 2010

Aleppan White Bean and Tomato Crostini

Simple white beans are simmered to perfection in a thick, richly spiced tomato sauce to make an exotic crostini topping in a beautiful cultural culinary marriage.  Taking a page from Mark Bittman over at the Minimalist, I'll call this a "Traditional Aleppan-Italian Dish I Made Up."

This is not a quick recipe, but it involves only a few minutes of work and can easily be made ahead or simmered while you are doing other things.  This recipe is inspired by Poopa Dweck's Aromas of Aleppo.  My version is quicker, vegetarian, lower in total and saturated fat, freezes well, and is perfect defrosted on toasted bread for weeks as crazy as this one.  I imagine this recipe would convert well to the crockpot, and I'll let you know if I try it someday.

Soak the beans according to your favorite method.  I prefer the cold soak method common in most of the world, which involves simply soaking the beans for 6-8 hours or overnight in water.   But soaking is a surprisingly controversial topic, so I leave it to you to decide what works best! 

Tip: Freeze the rest of your can of tomato paste in an ice cube tray.  Transfer the frozen cubes to a ziploc freezer bag for easy access for future recipes.  No waste!

Taking a page from Mark Bittman over at the Minimalist, I'll call this a "Traditional Aleppan-Italian Dish I Made Up."

Total Time: 1 hour, 1 minutes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 2-4, depending on whether side dish or main.  Serve with rice, grains, or crusty bread.

2 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, chopped
2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
1 cup dried white beans, such as Great Northern Beans or cannelini beans, soaked according to your favorite method, drained, and rinsed
2 T tomato paste
1 8 ounce can chopped tomatoes
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t white pepper
1/4 t kosher salt or sea salt
2 quarts vegetable stock (or meat stock)
Good quality, crusty whole grain bread, sliced and toasted

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  
2. Saute garlic and onion in a medium-sized, ovenproof saucepan for 5 minutes or until onions are translucent.
3. Add all other ingredients.  Bring to a boil.
4. Transfer saucepan to oven and simmer for 1 hour or until beans are tender and sauce has thickened.
5. Adjust salt and cinnamon to taste.
6.  Spread on toasts and serve your senses.


  1. This sounds great -- crostinis are always a great appetizer. You're right, the cold soak method for beans is great. It's my preference too.

  2. Tony, thanks for visiting! We eat crostinis all the time with soup or salad for a light weeknight meal. Many toppings like this one are easy to freeze, making them perfect for nights when I get home really late and don't feel like cleaning up the kitchen. Please come back soon!