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Farmhouse Ragoût with Pesto

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Beans and vegetables with the appeal of fresh sage and thyme, garlic, summer squash, fresh tomatoes and fresh or canned shell beans. And zucchini and or yellow squash. This is a hearty dish: Serve it in large, shallow soup bowls. From “Fine Cooking Annual” (Taunton, 2007 edition).

Farmhouse Ragoût with Pesto

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 bay leaves
2 medium onions, cut into large chunks
7 plump cloves garlic, halved
3 sprigs fresh thyme
6 fresh sage leaves
3/4 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch length
3/4 pound small new potatoes, scrubbed
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 pound yellow or green wax beans (or a mix), trimmed and halved, crosswise
1 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pound summer squash, cut into 1-inch thick rounds
5 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and cut into large chunks
1 pound fresh shell beans, husked or one 15-ounce can, top-quality white beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic, peeled
6 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons water, or more, if needed
Pinch of kosher salt
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, optional

For the ragoût: In a large, flameproof casserole or Dutch oven with a snug-fitting lid, heat oil with the bay leaves over low heat. When fragrant, add the onions, 6 of the garlic cloves (f using canned beans, use the 7th clove of garlic), 2 of the thyme sprigs and the sage, stirring to coat everything thoroughly with the oil. Cover and cook over low heat for 2 minutes, then add the carrots. If the potatoes are the size of large marbles, leave them whole, but quarter larger ones or cut fingerlings in half lengthwise. Add the potatoes to the pot in a single layer; season with salt and pepper. Add the wax beans, bell pepper and squash to the pot in layers, seasoning each layer with a little salt and pepper as you go. Add the tomatoes, sprinkling their juices over all. Cover and cook over low heat until the vegetables are tender, 40 to 65 minutes. If tightly covered, the vegetables will produce plenty of flavorful juices. There is no need to stir, but if the pot seems dry, add a few tablespoons water or dry white wine, if you like.

For the pesto: Process the basil, garlic and oil together in a blender, adding a little water to loosen if needed. Add the salt and the cheese, if using. Taste and adjust the seasonings to taste.

Cook the shell beans in enough water to total 3 cups, including the beans. Add the remaining garlic clove, thyme sprig and a little olive oil. Simmer, uncovered, until tender 30 to 45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the beans and their cooking liquid to the pot (if using canned beans, add a bit of water or broth.) Discard the bay leaves; ladle into soup plates, drizzle some pesto over each dish, and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

From Deborah Madison in “Fine Cooking Annual”


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