Slow-Cooker Creamy White Beans with Fresh Tomatoes
One of my favourite comfort foods is white beans. Maybe its because its one of those foods from my childhood. White beans, rapini (broccoli rabé) and sausage or some other type of meat and some crusty bread on the side. Just scooped all on the fork together and eaten while mopping up all the meat juices and creamy bean sauce. What a pleasant combination of flavours! I’m hungry just thinking about it.
I’ve been craving white beans for a long time, but cooking from dried beans is sometimes daunting for me since I have a hard time planning my dinners out! My Mom had told me about cooking dried beans in the slow cooker before, and I had tried it once, and it had worked amazingly, much better than stove top, as the skins don’t fall apart and the beans cook evenly.The selling feature for me is that you don’t need to soak them overnight. Just straight into the slow cooker and about 5 hours later (on high), you have perfectly cooked beans. I have read that for digestive purposes and also because some beans have low concentrations of a toxin called phytohaemagglutinin, some people still soak them overnight before cooking them in the slow cooker. Also, another point worth mentioning is that you should ALWAYS soak red kidney beans, as they naturally have a high concentration of the above toxin (phytohaemagglutinin) that gets released into the water from soaking. And also, most of the toxin will be broken down from a 5 minute boil, which doesnt happen in a slow cooker either. So know your beans!
So I decided to make some white navy beans in the slow cooker without soaking and they turned out beautifully. I had some small yellow pear tomatoes and some red ones from my CSA that needed using up, so I decided to throw those in the slow cooker at the last minute as well as a generous drizzle of olive oil. Delicious! I had never done that before, and the sweet and acidic character of the tomatoes really went well with the creaminess of the beans and the fruitiness of the olive oil. A must try if you like beans! And I’m sure you could use any type of bean, so use your favourite! To save time, you could also used canned beans but the BPA in cans is a concern for me, but its just soooo much cheaper to use dried anyways!
I don’t really have an exact recipe to post because sometimes I create things on the fly and don’t measure anything. Its kind of bad sometimes because there are times when I can NEVER recreate what I had just made, and its a real shame! So I’ll outline the basic idea.
Cook your desired amount of beans from dried (I think I used around 1 cup dried), either on the stove or in the slow cooker. If using the slow cooker, which is what I did, throw some washed and picked over beans into the slow cooker and cover with about 1-2 inches of water. Turn the slow cooker to high and keep an eye on the water level, you may need to add more water if it starts to dry out too much. In about 2 hours add about 2 tsp salt. In 4 – 5 hours they will tender.Turn the slow cooker to low heat. Drain some of the excess water, but keep a little bit in the bottom so the beans aren’t too dry – this is just to keep them a bit moist. Drizzle in about 1-2 tablespoons of oil (really depends on your taste and how much beans you are cooking). Chop up some tomatoes into chunks and finely chop some parsley. Put that all into the slow cooker with the beans and oil. Season to taste with more salt and some ground black pepper. Toss everything so its all nice and coated. Season with more salt if needed. Cover and let sit for about 5 min at the low setting, just to soften the tomatoes a bit. Serve warm with some of the delicious juices at the bottom of the pot!
You could totally use any other herb instead of the parsley, like basil! Basil would be delicious I think! Also feel free to toss in some kale or spinach even. I wish I had some at the time :)