Pot beans are one of the great pleasures of simple vegetarian cooking. Beans from a can simply cannot prepare you for the complex and delightful flavors of heirloom-variety beans, fresh or freshly dried, simmered in a broth of their own making. They give off a delicious liquor with rich, deep flavors that need no help from meat. We are known fans of Rancho Gordo's heirloom beans, and this recipe depends on beans from them or a similar source.
We stir in summer basil and tomato along with salty Parmesan to finish these off. It takes a little forethought to make these, since they have to cook for a while, but they keep great for up to a week.
Basil Parmesan Pot Beans
2 cups heirloom dried beans, such as Rancho Gordo's Good Mother Stallard
2 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
Red pepper flakes, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese, to taste
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil
1 large tomato
Rinse and drain the dried beans thoroughly. Cover the beans with water in a medium saucepan and leave to soak for a couple hours or overnight. Sliver the garlic and chop the onion finely. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy frying pan and lightly cook the onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes over medium heat until the onion is translucent.
Add the cooked onions and garlic to the beans in the saucepan and bring to a hard boil over high heat. Boil for five minutes, then turn the heat to very, very low. Barely simmer for 2-3 hours, until the beans are tender, checking from time to time to see if they are drying out.
Finely chop the basil and mince the tomatoes. At the very end of the beans' cooking, throw in the basil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with minced tomato, a little extra basil, and Parmesan on top.