We believe in using fresh, seasonal ingredients, as do the country's best chefs. Of course, not every chef has the time or space to maintain a home garden. Evan Kleiman, chef-owner of Angeli Caffe on Melrose Avenue, has created a small organic garden in a narrow space behind her '20s-era L.A. duplex. For her, it makes life easier.
When she gets home after a long day in her restaurant, she walks outside, spies what's ready to pick, and she's got dinner. "Cooking becomes more ingredient-based rather than recipe-based," she says. Just before the
Garden Show in October, we visited Kleiman and her garden. Among the delicious dishes she produced from her bounty was bruschetta made with mixed greens and fresh shell bean puree. We couldn't get enough.
1 cup dried flageolet, Great Northern or cannellini beans
Extra-virgin olive oil
5 cloves garlic, plus 1 to 2 optional cloves garlic
2 large bunches or 4 small bunches greens (such as spinach, mustard greens, chard, tat soi)
2 anchovy fillets
12 slices ciabatta or other hard-crusted rustic bread
Soak beans overnight in water. Drain. Place beans and onion in small saucepan. Add water to cover by 2 inches, bring to rolling boil and boil 5 minutes, then reduce heat and simmer until beans are very tender, about 40 minutes, adding just enough water if necessary to keep beans covered. Add salt to taste during last few minutes of cooking.
When beans are very tender, remove onion and drain off nearly all water, leaving just enough for mashing beans into fluffy puree. Mash beans with potato masher, adding olive oil to taste. Press 1 to 2 cloves optional garlic and mix into beans.
Wash and dry greens and remove fibrous stems or ribs. Stack leaves, roll up and slice across to make thin strips. Mince 2 cloves garlic. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in skillet over medium heat. Add minced garlic, anchovies, greens and salt to taste. Cover pan and cook until greens wilt and are tender. Remove pan from heat. Drain off excess liquid.
Grill or lightly toast bread. Rub each slice with remaining garlic cloves and drizzle with olive oil.
To serve, put toast, greens and bean puree on serving platter. Let each guest spoon beans onto toast and top with bit of greens.