I hate puns.
No, really. I hate them. My husband would have you believe otherwise, but it’s really true. Unfortunately, and much to my husband’s delight, I’m sure, as it helps to prove his case, there is no better name for the dish that I’m about to share with you other than,
(I’ll give you a moment.)
This is a recipe for a marinara sauce that would traditionally be made with ground beef, therefore, making it a “Bolognese“. However, because I have been, for several reasons, sticking to purchasing very little meat for our family, I had to improvise. Thus was born a tasty treat made with beans instead of meat!
I’ve made this dish a few times, and each time, the types of beans used were a little different depending on what I had on hand. The following recipe is my favorite version thus-far:
- Start by soaking 1 cup of dried beans overnight. I prefer a combination of red beans and garbanzo beans at a ratio of about 4:1 respectively.
- After the beans have soaked, put them in a pot of cold water, and bring it to a boil. The beans should be boiled, uncovered, until they are thoroughly soft (not “al dente“). This can take some time, depending on the beans used and the amount.
- You may want to note that boiling raw beans that have been dried usually requires skimming the foam and film that is produced early in the boiling process. Also, DO NOT add salt at this point– that will dry out the beans and make them crumble.
- Once the beans are thoroughly cooked, take them off the heat and set them aside, keeping them in the hot water in which they were boiled.
The SAUCE – this taken, mostly, from an America’s Test Kitchen recipe
- In a large saucepan or pot, melt two tablespoons of unsalted butter on medium heat.
- Once the butter is melted, but before it starts to bubble, at 1/3 cup of grated white onion. (The larger-sized grate is fine for this)
- As the onion cooks, add dried oregano to taste (I also use marjoram).
- Sometimes, I chop some fresh parsley and add it at this point– whatever you like.
- Once the onion is cooked-through and soft, add minced garlic. (You can use a couple of cloves, but since I love garlic, I would probably use 4 or 5!)
- To this, now you can add a pinch of salt (I love cooking with kosher salt).
- You don’t need to cook the garlic much at all. In fact, I would go ahead and have the other ingredients ready to throw in within a minute or so of adding the garlic to the onions.
- After just a minute or so, ladle the cooked beans into the sauce pan using a slotted spoon so as to keep from adding too much of the water (though you might need it later if your sauce gets too thick for your liking).
- Stir together, and add pepper to taste. I like a bit of cracked black pepper and also a couple of teaspoons of red pepper flakes.
- After the beans have been incorporated, let it all cook together uncovered for about 3-5 minutes.
- If at any time during this process you find that the vegetables and/or beans are sticking to the pan, you can add a little more butter or a touch of canola oil– you’ll want to wait to use olive oil!
- Next, add 1 can of crushed tomatoes. (I like Muir Glenn Fire Roasted crushed tomatoes!)
- Stir together, then let the sauce simmer on low for about 10 minutes, or until the sauce thickens to your liking.
- After the sauce has simmered, add salt to taste, but be sure to taste the sauce before salting. (Remember, other ingredients in the sauce have already been salted, and using canned tomatoes, while tasty and convenient, often have some salt in them already.)
- Take the sauce off the heat, and stir in about 1/2 cup of freshly chopped basil.
- Add about 2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and stir in to incorporate. (Adding the olive oil at the end will keep your sauce from having a bitterness that can come from over-worked olive oil.)
- In a wide bowl, start with a handful of fresh baby spinach leaves.
- On top the bed of spinach, add a hot serving of your favorite pasta (this works well with spaghetti, penne, or rigatoni– just to name a few).
- To your bed of pasta and greens, ladle on a helping of the hot fauxlognese sauce.
- Top with grated Parmesan and/or Pecorino and a sprig of parsley for color.