Thursday, May 5, 2011

Butter Beans with Tomatoes & Herbs

Butter Beans with Tomatoes & Herbs 
I know that  in the last post, I pretty much reached the absolute maximum level of enthusiasm acceptable, for that Lemon-Coconut Bundt Cake.  Had I heaped on even an ounce more praise, sang even one note more of its glory,  it would have been just way too much.  It wouldn’t have been decent, really. 

Garlic Cloves

Yes, I went a little overboard.  But that’s not to say I exaggerated.  Seriously guys, it truly was that good.  (And lots of you can vouch for that.  I was so glad to hear from the many of you who’ve already tried it!  Thanks again, you guys!)  Even so, all that over-the-t0p acclaim left me in a sticky spot.  Because now, how can any future recipe I share, ever compare to that cake?

Butter Beans

Bowl o' Butter Beans   
And so, I had to be a bit strategic this week.  With such a tough act to follow, I obviously couldn’t run with another cake.  Or for that matter, any dessert at all.  I knew I’d have to go with something humble, something overtly plain and explicitly simple.  And that’s how I arrived at beans.  Because with the lowly bean, you don’t expect too much glory in the first place, so you can’t get too disappointed when my description doesn’t live up to the high standard I inadvertently set in my last post.

And so, here’s what I have to say, here’s all that I have to say about these beans, these giant creamy butter beans bathed in a flavorful tomato sauce with fresh herbs and garlic-infused olive oil.  All I have to say is that they’re good.  Good because they’re 1. delicious, 2. quick and easy to throw together, 3. inexpensive, 4.  healthy, 5. pretty, and last but not least 6. great as as side to all sorts of dinners.  I think that says it all, right?

Garlic, Thyme & Sage

I’ve made these delicious, quick & easy, inexpensive, healthy, pretty, versatile butter beans about half a dozen times in the last couple months.  They’re stupendous alongside roast chicken, and just about anything else you happen to be in the mood for.  A couple nights ago we simply had them over crusty toast, topped with a sunny-side-up egg, and with a quick salad on the side.  (It was one of those use-up-the-leftovers nights.  We kinda love those nights!)

Chopped sage

Chopped sage, up close

I really am trying to restrain myself from saying other nice things about these beans, because they surely are one of my favorite go-to recipes.  But I do have to be careful.  I don’t want to start a pattern that’s impossible to keep up with!  But just know this: No matter how short or long my praise for any given recipe, no matter how typical or grand the adjectives I choose to describe it, I will only ever post up here recipes I’m sure you will like, ones I’d love you to try, ones I adore myself, ones I truly want to share with you, my dear readers.  

Butter Beans with Tomatoes & Herbs

Butter Beans with Tomatoes & Herbs
Serves 4
Butter Beans with Tomatoes & Herbs
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 medium garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 (28-oz) can diced tomatoes, with their juices
2 (15-oz) cans butter beans
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Heat a medium-sized sauce pot (or a large sauté pan) over medium heat for about 1 minute.  Add the olive oil and continue to heat for another 30 seconds.  Add the garlic, thyme and sage and cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic just begins to turn golden, about 1 minute.  Add the tomatoes, season with a good pinch of salt and pepper, and simmer until the juices are slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. 
Tomatoes simmering with garlic & herbs
Add the butter beans and stir to combine.  Lower the heat and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes longer.  Taste, then season as needed with salt & pepper.  Serve hot. 


  1. Alright, Kate. I've had these beans twice now and I've had your famous cake a few times. (You're right it's hard to follow up that "fake" looking cake because it's so delicious!) But these beans are really great. I think it's the herbs way of secretly sneaking into your mouth and going "POW!" It wouldn't be the same without that oomf. How is it that you can make something so easy taste so complex? It truly is a great side to roasted chicken or a sassy seitan & kale stir fry. I hope to be able to duplicate it at home now that I have the recipe! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks a ton, dear Erin! It's been so fun sharing this food with you! Heres to many more tasty meals together!

  3. Hi Kate!
    This is Kourtne from knitting. It's been too long since we chatted. I just had to pause mid-bowl and tell you THANKS for this delicious recipe! I have been waiting all summer for my sage to grow big enough to use and finally today was the day. We'll be eating these beans all fall/winter. Hope to see you again soon. Now back to my dinner. :)

  4. Hey, Kourtne! You're right - we haven't seen each other in what seems like ages! I'll definitely try to be at the next knitting get-together, and hopefully you'll be there too! And THANKS to you, for such sweet words. Glad to hear you're loving the recipe. And so glad to hear about your home-grown sage - How lovely that sounds!!

  5. I have made this dish a few times and love it, It will be dinner tonight with grilled Salmon nestled in the middle. fresh and simplicity goes a long way.

  6. Thank, you Chefer22! These beans with Salmon sound divine! I'll have to try that myself. Thanks for the inspiration!