Gigantes with Brussels Sprouts

MAKES: 4 servings

TIME: 20 minutes with cooked beans

The varied textures and rustic flavors of this dish make it a real winner. It’s incredibly versatile as well: Substitute just about any vegetable for the Brussels sprouts and use any roasted nuts and fresh herb you have on hand.

You can also use all sorts of beans instead of the somewhat hard-to-find gigantes, but these huge beans are worth seeking out. Their potatolike flavor and texture is amazing, making them a great standby bean to have in the pantry. And how many beans can you eat with a knife and fork?

If you use oil instead of butter, this dish is vegan.

Other beans you can use: Many hearty beans, like lima (especially the large ones), cranberry, pinto, or kidney beans, will work nicely.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or butter

12 ounces Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/2 cup vegetable stock or water

3 cups cooked or canned gigantes, drained but still moist

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup roasted and chopped hazelnuts or almonds (see The Nut and Seed Lexicon)

Chopped fresh sage leaves for garnish

Put the oil or butter in a skillet over medium-high. When the oil is hot or the butter is melted, add the Brussels sprouts and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

Add the stock and bring to a boil. Add the beans and a good sprinkling of salt and pepper; reduce the heat to a steady simmer and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning, sprinkle with the hazelnuts and sage, and serve.

Variations

Gigantes with Shiitakes. Use any sturdy mushroom: Replace the Brussels sprouts with about 2 cups quartered shiitake mushroom caps.

Gigantes with Cherry Tomatoes. Brighter in color and flavor: Substitute about 2 cups cherry tomatoes for the Brussels sprouts and pine nuts for the hazelnuts. Proceed with the recipe and sprinkle with chopped fresh basil or oregano leaves for garnish.

Gigantes with Preserved Lemon. A bit of Morocco: Delete the Brussels sprouts. Add 2 or 3 tablespoons chopped Preserved Lemon and 1/4 cup pitted green olives with the beans in Step 2. Use almonds instead of hazelnuts.