I love the way red chard bleeds into the beans, tingeing them with pink. The herbs add dimension and color to this comforting dish.
A Ragout of White Beans and Red Chard
- 1/2 pound dried white beans (about 1 1/4 cups), soaked for 6 hours or overnight
- 1 bay leaf
- A couple of sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 to 4 garlic cloves (to taste), minced or pressed
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large or 2 smaller bunches red Swiss chard (about 1 pound), stemmed and coarsely chopped or cut in ribbons
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 2 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
- Combine the beans with 1 quart of water in a 2- or 3-quart pot and bring to a boil. Skim off any foam, then add half the onion and half the garlic, the bay leaf and the thyme sprigs. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 1 hour. Add a teaspoon of salt, and continue to simmer until the beans are tender but not mushy, about 30 minutes longer. Taste the broth and add more salt as desired, then remove from the heat and let sit for at least 10 minutes (so the beans can absorb more salt from the broth).
- Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy nonstick skillet over medium heat and add the remaining onion. Cook, stirring often, until tender but not colored, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, Swiss chard and thyme leaves and continue to cook, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant and the chard has wilted slightly, about 1 or 2 minutes. Stir into the beans and bring back to a simmer and simmer 10 minutes. Taste and adjust the salt, and grind in some pepper.
- Stir in the parsley, sprinkle on the cheese, and serve.
- Prepare Ahead: The cooked beans will keep for a couple of days in the refrigerator. The entire dish, up to the adding of the parsley and cheese, can sit on the stove for several hours. Bring back to a simmer, add the parsley and cheese, and serve.