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Crostini with White Beans, Garlic and Tuscan Kale

Pungent garlic mellowed by braising, creamy white beans and peppery olive oil combine to create an innovative topping for toasted bread slices. It’s an inspired way to showcase the hearty, slightly bitter greens that proliferate in the winter farmers’ market

Ingredients:

  • 12 small Tuscan kale leaves (about 1/4 lb. total)
  • 2 Tbs. peppery extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 baguette
  • 1 1/2 cups canned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste
  • Sea salt, to taste

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 400°F.

Cut away and discard the central rib from each kale leaf and chop the leaves coarsely. In a large frying pan over high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the kale leaves and cook, stirring often, until they wilt and sizzle in the hot oil, about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the garlic and broth, cover and cook until the leaves are tender but still hold their shape, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the baguette on the diagonal into 14 slices, each 1/2 inch thick. (Reserve the remainder for another use.) Arrange the slices on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven until crisp, turning them once, about 5 minutes total. Remove from the oven and set aside.

When the kale leaves are tender, push them to one side of the pan and add the beans to the other side. Season with red pepper flakes and salt and simmer until the broth is mostly absorbed, about 5 minutes. Using a fork, stir together the beans and greens and roughly mash until the mixture just holds together. Season with salt and red pepper flakes.

Spoon 1 heaping Tbs. of the beans and greens mixture on top of each toast and drizzle with olive oil. Arrange on a platter or individual plates and serve immediately. Makes 14 crostini; serves 3 or 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Appetizers, by Amy Sherman (Oxmoor House, 2008).