Canned beans had no place in Mom's kitchen, but they're right at home in mine. I can blame years of long hours at work with too little time left for cooking.
Or I can be honest and just call myself lazy.
The fact is, dry beans that are soaked and boiled until they're just right are a joy -- and they're great for you. Plenty of fiber and protein, with only as much sodium as your stingy fingers care to pinch.
The trick to getting satisfactory results with canned beans is to experiment with brands as well as types. Let's face it: Some of this stuff is just mush, like little pellets of oatmeal.
But I've found consistently firm and flavorful beans in the least expected places. The store brand at our local supermarket, Publix, for example. Their Great Northern Beans suit me just fine for this recipe, a simple but delicious (and filling) appetizer or snack. Just be sure to rinse thoroughly to reduce the salt.
You think this is heresy? Mom would take your side.
I'll just take a heaping bowl of plaki, nicely chilled, with a wedge of lemon.
2 carrots, diced
2 to 3 stalks celery, diced
2 medium potatoes, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (6-oz) can tomato paste
dash of salt
2 (15-oz) cans white beans, drained and rinsed
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1. Blend the tomato paste with about 2 cups of water and add the carrots, celery, potatoes and garlic. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.
2. Add the beans and cook about 15-20 minutes more. Remove from stove.
3. In a skillet, saute the onion until golden brown. Gently add to cooked plaki.
4. Serve chilled with lemon juice or lemon wedges.