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Escarole With Beans And Olive Oil

ingredients

serves 6.
1 3/4 lb (800 g) escarole
1 lb 2 oz (500 g) dried cannellini beans or white kidney beans
2 cloves garlic
2 sage leaves
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

method

1. Soak the beans overnight in enough cold water to amply cover them mixed with the bicarbonate of soda.

2. The next day, drain and place the beans in a measuring jug to get a rough estimate of their volume and transfer to a fireproof earthenware or enamelled cast iron casserole dish with twice their volume of water. Add the unpeeled garlic cloves, sage leaves but no salt and bring slowly to a gentle boil.

3. Simmer the beans over a very low heat for 2 1/2 hours or until they are tender, removing any scum from the surface at intervals. After just over 1 hour's cooking time, stir in 2 tsp salt and 1 tbsp olive oil.

4. When the beans are cooked, remove and discard the sage leaves; squeeze the soft puree from the garlic skins into the beans and stir. Add a little salt if necessary.

5. Trim, prepare and thoroughly wash the escarole; blanch for 2 minutes in a large saucepan of boiling salted water. Drain well and place an equal amount in deep, heated soup bowls; ladle plenty of beans on top and sprinkle a little olive oil and freshly ground white or black pepper over them.

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