Jumpin’ Jack Flash White Bean Stew

by Anne Bennett on March 20, 2010

Remember the Rolling Stones song, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash, it’s a gas, gas, gas”? Beans have been given a bad rap because of their unfortunate impact on the digestive tract.  (Julia Child referred to this phenomenon as the “rooti-ti-toots”.) Consider, however, their giant status as a healthy, economical food, loaded with protein and consumed by way more people in the world than I know personally.

That being dutifully stated, here is a super-easy way to turn canned white beans into a colorful and delicious entree.  The original recipe, from Gourmet Magazine, called for cubes of ham and baby romaine lettuce. I’ve included the ham in the recipe below but I left it out (still suffering from a December ham hangover) and I really didn’t miss it. I also used baby spinach leaves instead of romaine, as I can’t yet fathom the idea of cooking salad greens. (Yes, technically spinach is a salad green but it’s a cooked vegetable as well, so it passes muster.)

This is a versatile recipe; the first night I served it plain (with whole wheat rolls and salad). The next night I grilled shrimp and placed them on top of the stew. You could do likewise with grilled chicken. Add whatever herbs or spices appeal to you. I sprinkled on lots of crushed red pepper and finished it off with a splash of Frank’s Original Hot Sauce. Yee hah!

Cooking the spinach just until it wilts allows it to retain its vibrant color.

Cooking the spinach just until it wilts allows it to retain its vibrant color.

2 large garlic cloves, minced (I used 3 cloves because I left out the ham)
1 T. olive oil
1 (14 1/2 oz.) can stewed tomatoes (I used Mexican stewed tomatoes)
1 (14 oz.) can reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 (16 to 19-oz.) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (use the largest white bean you can find)
1/2 lb. piece of baked ham, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (ask the deli to cut a 1/2″ thick slice for you)
1/4 to 1/2 t. black pepper
1 (5 oz.) bag of baby spinach leaves

Heat olive oil in a medium Dutch oven and add garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Coarsely cut up tomatoes in the can using kitchen shears and add to the garlic. Stir in broth, beans, ham and pepper and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Stir in spinach and cook until wilted, about 3 more minutes. Season to taste and enjoy.

Serves 4

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Pam March 26, 2010 at 10:27 am

Instead of ham can you use smoke turkey legs.What were do to the points?

Courtney March 27, 2010 at 7:19 am

Trying this for lunches this week! Will let you know how it goes!

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