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Cannellini Bean Casserole with Basil Pesto Butter

1 Tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, minced
2 ribs of celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken stock, canned or homemade is best
1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed, 1 inch slices
2 zucchini, chopped roughly
2 fennel bulbs, trimmed and chopped roughly
1 red bell pepper, chopped roughly
1 Tbsp fresh thyme
1 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped fine
2 tsp red pepper flakes
salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
1 15oz can artichoke hearts
2 large cans cannellini beans (about 2.5 pounds)

Basil Pesto Butter

2 cups fresh basil leaves (packed)
1 clove garlic
pound of butter (1 stick), softened
cup grated parmesan cheese

Cannellini Casserole
Warm a Dutch-oven over medium-high heat, add olive oil. When oil is hot,
not smoking, saute garlic and onion to release perfume. Add celery and
carrot and cook another 5 minutes. Add wine and cook 5 more minutes.
Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add asparagus, zucchini, fennel
and bell pepper, cook for 10-15 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add
thyme, basil, pepper flakes, salt and pepper, artichoke hearts and beans.
Cook till beans are heated through. Spoon into wide soup bowls. Top with
Basil Pesto Butter. Serve with crusty Tuscan bread.

Basil Pesto Butter
Place basil, garlic, butter and parmesan cheese in bowl of food processor,
pulse 5 or 6 times, then puree. Scrape Pesto Butter into center of a piece
of plastic wrap. Roll into 1 inch log and refrigerate until serving time.
Slice off portions to top your casseroles, soups, or spread on slices of
French bread before toasting.

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