This recipe is an upscale or at least drier version of what you used to get at any place serving food in Poland and was called Beans à la Bretonne. It was a dish made of cooked large white beans in a tomato sauce. In the more prosperous times it was served with chopped sausage, or bacon, or even meats. But most often it was served as a protein-rich vegetarian dish.
I do not have any particular sentiment for beans made that way, but because I like all kinds of beans I found this, most probably Italian, variation of this dish interesting. It called for tomatoes, but sun-dried, and pancetta, and some extra spices and herbs.
I made it last week on a cold, windy day. I added some chili pepper flakes, which made it fairly spicy. It tasted great, warming up and comforting.
I made part of the dish without pancetta for my son, but I added more garlic and tomatoes to it. He liked it a lot. But I found it tastier when I added some pancetta to it. It did not make the dish heavier but the taste of pancetta complimented it nicely.
I also cooked the beans al dente. They were already soft, but still a bit tender when bitten, while in Poland we served them nearly overcooked. For that reason, dry beans, not canned, should be used. Beans should be soaked over night and cooked slowly for about an hour, but you really need to try how you like them. I also salted it at the end of cooking with coarse sea salt. But not too much, as tomatoes and pancetta add extra saltines already.
White Beans Sautéed with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Pancetta
1 lb (half a kilogram ) of dried, large white beans (e.g., Lima beans),
6-8 garlic cloves,
1 cup of sun-dried tomatoes (the best are those in oil and herbs), cut in strips
1/4 lb of pancetta (10-12 very thin slices),
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped,
1 tsp red chili pepper,
1 tbs fresh rosemary leaves.
1. Cover the beans with water (about an inch above) and let them soak overnight. Simmer in the same water for about an hour or a bit longer, until they have desirable softness.
2. Preheat a large frying pan. Add pancetta and fry it until it releases all the fat. Cut garlic into thin slices garlic and, add it to the pot, and fry it together for about 3-5 minutes until garlic becomes gold.
3. Cut sun dried tomatoes and add them to the pan, mix everything, and let it cook together for about a minute. Throw in chopped rosemary and chili pepper, and stir.
4. Add beans and about a 1/4 cup of water. Mix together and simmer gently until water evaporates and beans are coated in all the ingredients.