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Chefs’ Corner: Tre Trattoria’s Italian White Beans With Gremolata

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This Italian antipasto dish from Jason Dady’s Tre Trattoria is simplicity itself, and it draws its strength from a few well-chosen ingredients: white beans in a lemony parsley condiment called gremolata, which gets a bold kick from grated garlic.

This summertime refresher is easy to make, though you have to start soaking the beans a day before you put the dish together.

Take it on a picnic this Labor Day or enjoy it as a side dish to pork,  chicken or fish.

You can also use gremolata by itself with osso buco, roasted meats, poultry and seafood.

Italian White Beans With Gremolata

2 cups cannellini (white beans)
8 cups cold water
1 bunch Italian flat-leaf parsley
Zest of 3 lemons
3 garlic cloves
8 cups chicken stock
1 yellow onion, cut in a large chop
1 carrot, cut in a large chop
1 rib celery, cut in a large chop
1 tablespoon butter
4 tablespoons kosher salt
6 cups ice
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Soak the beans in cold water overnight.  This can be done at room temperature or under refrigeration.  After 24 hours, remove beans from water and rinse clean.  Discard the soaking liquid.

For gremolata, which can be done ahead of time: Pick all of the leaves from the stems of the parsley.  Wash leaves and dry completely. Mince parsley until finely chopped.  Place in paper towel and squeeze to remove as much moisture as possible.

Place parsley in small bowl and using a microplane, grate the lemon zest into the parsley. (A microplane will help you get only zest and avoid the bitter pith.) Using the microplane, grate the garlic into the parsley and toss to mix thoroughly. Reserve gremolata and use as needed.  (Will hold for two-three days, if wrapped properly and refrigerated).

In large, heavy bottomed 6-quart stock pot, melt butter over medium heat.  Once melted, gently sweat the onion, carrot and celery for 3 minutes.

Add the presoaked white beans to the stock pot and add chicken stock and kosher salt.  Bring to simmer and allow to cook until soft.  Once soft, turn off the beans and add the ice.  Allow the beans to cool completely in the liquid.  Once cooled completely, drain beans, dry and reserve for service. Discard onion, carrot and celery.

To finish the dish, toss the cooled white beans with extra virgin olive oil and gremolata.  Adjust seasoning as needed with kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

From Jason Dady and Tre Trattoria, 4003 Broadway.

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