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One of the reasons I love this recipe, besides being warm and delicious, is that the ingredients
are things I often have already on hand. It is the perfect transition dish as it starts feeling a little
more like fall. I’ve eaten this as a main course with just a salad, over quinoa and arugula, and as
a side to an italian themed dinner. Now I just need a glass of a great red wine…

Italian White Beans
adapted from kitchen trial and error

1/2 small red onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 sprig rosemary, leaves stripped and minced
pinch of coarse salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon tomato paste
30 ounces canned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

Coat the bottom of a saute pan with olive oil and saute the onion over medium heat until it becomes translucent, about 5 minutes. Combine the garlic, salt and rosemary together and mix until the mixture becomes a paste. Add it to the pan with the onion, and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Then add the tomato paste and and beans. Depending on how dry the mixture is, add a tablespoon or two of water. Cook until the beans are hot through and coated with sauce, about 5 minutes.

It started snowing today. Here in Seattle, all it takes is a few flakes and the whole city starts freaking out, some happily and others not so much. The cold weather makes me crave something warm and filling. Have you tried escarole before? I can’t believe I just discovered it! It has the amazing peppery and slightly bitter flavor that I love from greens, and is the perfect complement to this creamy barley risotto.

Barley Risotto with Beans and Escarole
via smitten kitchen

5 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup pearled barley
1 cup beans, canned or precooked
3 cups chopped escarole
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a simmer over moderately high heat. Reduce the heat to low and keep warm.
In a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and thyme and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened, about 6 minutes. Add the barley and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring until absorbed, about one minute. Add 1 cup of the warm stock and cook, stirring, until nearly absorbed. Continue adding the stock 1/2 cup at a time,  stirring until it is nearly absorbed between additions. Stir it in until the risotto is on the loose side, then add the beans and let them cook for a minute. Add the escarole and let it wilt, then cook for an additional minute. Stir in the 1/2 cup of Parmesan and the butter and season with salt and pepper.