I think we're close enough now that I don't need to elaborate (too much) on my love for sage. Although I tend to think of it as an herb best suited for cooler weather, I'm happy to report it fares well in springtime, too. Whole Living has done a lot of wonderful food features the last few months including stories on Heidi Swanson from 101 Cookbooks and Kim Boyce, author of Good to the Grain, so I was not at all surprised to open the June issue to find a spread of fresh recipes for a farm-inspired brunch.
The recipe recommends serving the patties with the tomato sauce so I went ahead and made it without realizing just how crucial its juices would be to the success of this dish. Turns out thickened, burst tomato juices are the big secret that takes the dish to another level. I have all kinds of ideas for how to elevate this recipe even more, say for an intimate dinner party, but as is, there is something wonderful about the crisp, browned edges combined with the sweet tomato pan juices. It also doesn't hurt to add an extra drizzle of good olive oil and balsamic vinegar just before serving.
WHITE BEAN AND SAGE PATTIES WITH ROASTED TOMATO SAUCE
Recipe adapted from Whole Living, June 2011
I doubled the recipe for the most part since this served as a main course. The addition of balsamic vinegar is a nice touch to the tomatoes and compliments the beans.
2 14.5-ounce cans white beans
1 shallot, roughly chopped
2 medium carrots, finely grated, about 1/4 cup
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1 generous tablespoon chopped sage
Extra-virgin olive oil, for frying
Add the shallot to a food processor and whiz until finely chopped. Before you drain the beans, reserve a few tablespoons of liquid in case the patties become too dry. Add the beans, grated carrot, and salt and pepper to the food processor. Pulse 10 times, or until the beans are mostly mashed but a few whole beans remain. Turn out into a medium bowl and add the cornmeal and sage.
Incorporate the ingredients with your hands, as if you were making meatballs. (I tried using a fork at first, but it's not nearly as efficient.) If you need it, add some reserved bean liquid to moisten.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of oil. Form patties using your palms and saute in batches until golden brown and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes per side. The size of the patties is up to you. I preferred them small, about 2 to 3 inches, and thinner, so that the crisp exterior is enhanced.
Repeat with additional oil until all the patties are fried. Season with additional salt and serve with roasted tomato sauce.
ROASTED TOMATO SAUCE
1 pint cherry tomatoes
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Halve or quarter the tomatoes depending on their size and place them in an 8x8 baking dish. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes in a 400 degree oven until they burst and release their juices. To avoid washing an extra dish, add the balsamic vinegar directly to the baking dish and stir to combine. Serve warm over the bean patties.