Lou Giacalone, a viewer from Staten Island, New York who's cooked with Rach on our show before, is back with "Lou's Redos." Here, he shares 6 easy dried beans recipes that are budget-friendly and gluten-free. They all start with a basic white bean stew recipe that can then be turned into FIVE additional meals. You can also use canned beans but if you're being ultra-frugal, a bag of dried beans is the way to go.
1. White Bean Stew Base
To make the base, soak a one pound bag of dried white (aka cannellini) beans overnight. You want to change the water at least three times, Lou says. If you're using canned beans, you'll need three cans, rinsed.
Drain and set aside. In a sauce pot, heat three to four ounces of extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO). Once heated, add four chopped cloves of garlic, four sliced medium ribs celery and four ounces diced pancetta or prosciutto. To make this dish vegetarian, just skip the meat!
Stir. As the celery starts to break down, add the beans and about eight ounces of chicken stock (or vegetable stock for the vegetarian version).
Bring to a boil. Add four to six ounces of tomato sauce or crushed tomato to the pot. "I like using a marinara sauce because I like the bits of tomato in with the beans," Lou says, but you can use whatever kind of tomato sauce you prefer.
Next, add more stock. How much you add depends on how thick you want your base, Lou says. For a soup-like consistency, add more stock. For a heartier stew, use less stock. You'll want somewhere between 24 and 36 ounces of stock total. Finally, add salt and pepper to taste — and that's your base!
"I always like to keep my base dish without the starch. This way I can use it for a leftover (redo)," Lou says.
2. Escarole and Beans
Clean your escarole and cut into large pieces. Do NOT boil it first, Lou stresses.
Add four chopped cloves of garlic to a saucepot with three ounces of EVOO. As soon as it starts to turn a light tan color, add the escarole and sauté. Stir constantly, adding additional stock if needed, and cover. Once soft, add the white bean stew base (above).
3. Shrimp and White Beans
For a seafood twist on the white bean stew, in a sauté pan, heat three ounces of EVOO and two diced cloves of garlic (or two ounces pureed garlic). When the garlic starts to change colors, add shrimp and cook until pink, then add the white bean stew base and cook for another minute or until done.
4. Traditional Pasta e Fagioli
To make pasta e fagioli (pasta and beans), just add your favorite type of cooked, gluten-free pasta to the white bean stew base.
5. Pasta e Fagioli with Sausage
Add any type of cooked sausage meat to your pasta e fagioli for a heartier dish.
"If you're making sausage just for this dish, cook the sausage in the pot before making the beans," Lou says. "Remove the sausage and use the pork fat to start the beans."
If you're using leftover sausage, just slice or dice and add to the beans. "Let the flavors marry for a few minutes and enjoy," Lou says.
6. Black and White Fagioli with Chorizo
Swap the white beans in the stew base above for black, and start the dish with chorizo sausage, Lou says. Then mix the two any way you want!