Cannellini Beans and Romaine Lettuce Stew

With lots of lettuce in my cupboard what better way to use it up than to cook with it, as it’s perfect for simple stews like this Cannellini Beans and Romaine Lettuce Stew and for adding to stocks for gravies and sauces. Lettuce for some is a mere crunch on the plate, so to speak. Not just for me as I love to cook with them in soups as well. The French, of course, have it to a t with their Petit Pois (peas) à La Française, which is where my influence stems from. Lettuce leaves really are packed full of flavour and, not only that, are surprisingly nutritious, apparently. I’m still out on that one. Especially as I don’t have the choice of buying organic. With this particular stew I’ve purposely kept the photos vegetarian suitable, for a change, as meat isn’t really necessary with this recipe. Having said that I ate this with thin, dry cured spicy Polish kabanos sausages for lunch earlier. Anyway, this stew would be great with shredded kale as a sub for the lettuce, even though the former would be quite a lot more powerful in flavour. What really makes this for me is cooking with part of the rind of my block of Grana Padano hard cheese (think along the lines of Parmesan). As it’s relatively expensive here in the UK there’s no chance I’m throwing out that rind! Hah, it’s trimmed and chopped and used to full effect within this dish, lending a subtle cheese flavour as well as a wonderful creamy texture to the dish.

Cannellini Beans and Romaine Lettuce Stew

INGREDIENTS:

  • 100g x dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight, well rinsed following day and cooked to pack’s instructions OR see instructions below
  • 200ml x cooking liquor, from the beans
  • olive oil
  • 200g x romaine lettuce, rinsed and shredded
  • 1 x dried bay leaf, split
  • 2 – 3 x organic garlic cloves, root end cut off, peeled and crushed/minced
  • 1 x sprig fresh thyme, rinsed
  • 1 x stem curly leaf parsley, rinsed
  • 1/4 x packed teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 x tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 x tablespoon plain (AP)
  • 200ml x cold water
  • 1 x organic vegetable stock cube
  • 1/2 x rind from the block of Grana Padano cheese, trimmed
  • seasoning, both freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
  • green olives, to serve – optional
  • fresh peas, to serve
  • Polish thin dry cured kabanos sausages, rendered of fat separately, to serve – optional
  • freshly snipped of chopped flat leaf parsley, to serve
  • single (light) cream, to serve
  • freshly grated Grana Padano cheese, to serve

Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • After soaking the beans overnight rinse well and put them in a large saucepan with plenty of cold water to cover. Bring to a boil on electric heat No 4 with a lid on pan, carefully drain into a colander, repeat this process another time. Third time bring to a boil, reduce heat to No 2 and simmer until cooked, reserving 200ml of the cooking liquor for the sauce. If you taste the liquor at stage three it can be quite strong. Don’t worry too much about that as it will add immeasurably to the overall taste. Otherwise, ignore these instructions and cook to the instructions on its pack.
  • Once the beans are cooked add them, along with the 200ml cooking liquor, to a large heavy-based pan on heat No 3. Add the garlic, shredded lettuce, bay leaf, the rind of the Grana Padano cheese and the herbs. Bring to near boiling point with a lid on pan, reduce heat to No 2 and simmer until the lettuce is nicely wilted.
  • Add the flour and olive oil to a small saucepan and put on heat No 1 only. Allow about 5 minutes to cook out the flour. Any signs of bubbling then take off heat and allow to cool before putting back on heat. The flour must not change colour nor burn.
  • Pour in the extra water and the stock cube and stir through to combine and dissolve the stock cube completely. When stock cube is dissolved add the roux, as in the instruction directly above, and stir constantly to prevent any lumps from forming. Up the heat to do this if necessary, as the roux will help to thicken the sauce. Taste for any needed seasoning, add some single cream if using, remove the bay leaf, thyme and parsley and discard those and serve with green olives and crusty bread and lots of freshly grated Grana Padano. Or serve sautéed potatoes like I’ve done in the photos.
  • If using kabanos sausages then slice them into discs, add them to a dry pan and put them on heat No 2 and stir occasionally. That way the heat will render them off some of their fat.

.

Trimming the rind of a 200g block of Grana Padano cheese, and getting rid of the text just visible to the top right of block.

Adding the trimmed rind of the Grana Padano cheese along with the stem of curly leaf parsley (use flat leaf instead), the sprig of thyme, bay leaf and stock cube.

All photographs within (Todas las fotografías dentro de) Feed the Piglet:
All rights reserved (© Todos los derechos reservados) – Copyright © Johnny H Hepburn


20 comments

  1. When my best friend’s Mom fried lettuce as one of the ingredients for a side dish, I was surprised. When I tasted it, I was sold. You add so many hidden tastes/flavors (what the Japanese call it) that I am sure it is a very delicious meal!

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    • This dish is delicious in a subtle way. Can’t quite explain it. With using kale and cannellini you really know the difference. So with lettuce I always have to go the tip-toe route, adding ingredients on the way. I find writing instructions on this blog so difficult sometimes as it’s almost impossible to get across to people that it’s so important to taste, allow to infuse, then taste again! You’ll know exactly what I mean by that. Hopefully I don’t come across as an absolute pedant 🙂

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  2. Hey, the French sauté lettuce and the Italians certainly add bitter/sharp greens to beans, so how can you go wrong, especially with the rind from a piece that truly great cheese, Grano Padano? I might have diced and sautéed some of that sausage to get the ball rolling, but it looks and sounds as if your route worked out just dandy. Nice light in the top photo. Ken

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    • I’m with you re using the sausage to get the ball rolling. Recently with kale and pancetta I did exactly that. With certain lettuce, like romaine, I don’t take the risk as their flavour is quite often too subtle. Less so with leaves like endive, that I have to cook as they’re too bitter for my palate otherwise.

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  3. This reminds me of a dish my Mom used to make. She used cannellini beans, escarole and pancetta. It was delicious, sop up the lovely broth with crusty bread. Oh this has brought back wonderful memories of my Moms cooking. I have to try using romaine, it looks just wonderful. This will be on the menu very soon.

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    • I’d go with your Mom’s escarole. I wouldn’t be able to get that here, unless I traipse back to the superstore! I guess most leaves would do. I prefer cooking with endive, escarole and those leaves that can be bitter. Otherwise my face says it all 🙂

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  4. I can not get enough of your delicious stews. I keep finding myself saying, to myself…”Oh, I want to make that!” There is something about your stews that exude comfort. This stew is one of them. 🙂

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    • Actually, I would agree with you. I find that food brings out the nurturer within. And that’s for myself as well as others. Although, some days I could do with a bag of chips (French fries) rather than having to bother to cook. But when I do I like to take my time (one of the few pluses in cooking for one) and, importantly, allow the food time to cook. Could never work in a professional kitchen!

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    • This was good. Even though it’s simple and doesn’t have loads of ingredients this was tasty. Yes, most of the recipes I’ve cooked lettuce in before were all soups. And I’m hoping to do fresh peas and ‘Little Gem’ lettuce soup tomorrow night, which will be a new one for me.

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    • You’re almost a poet there, without the ‘for flavour’. Yes, aren’t they just great for adding to particular stews. As I’m cooking for one I never have loads of them. Which is why I’ve only used half this time around. Keeping that other precious half for another time 🙂

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