Before heading out the door on Saturday night, take five minutes and slip your white beans into a large pot and cover by at least an inch with water. Once the lid is on, you’re free from responsibility for the rest of the night.
On Sunday, you’ll need to allow three hours for the beans to cook, but for almost all of that time you can be busy doing something else. Start by sautéing a carrot, an onion, and a stalk of celery on low heat until tender. Turn on your beans, add the vegetables, bring to a boil and then cover and turn down to a simmer. (You should read these instructions before you begin.)
Dinner tonight will be warm polenta, broiled zucchini, a main dish of your choice, and salad. Roasted chicken would be a great pair for these simple dishes, and you’ll have left over to make chicken salad sandwiches for lunches. Let’s get started.
Start by putting your chicken in a 350 degree oven. I like to stuff an onion, half a lemon and some thyme in before cooking. Then I rub the outside with butter and let it work its magic.
Once your beans are simmering away and your chicken is roasting, make your salad dressing. Five, ten minutes tops and you’ll be done.
Slice your zucchini and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt before putting it to the side until your chicken is done roasting.
Start your polenta (if it’s a variety that takes 30 min – 1 hour to cook, do this before starting the zucchini.) Make double what you think you will eat and repurpose it later in the week for a completely different meal.
Once the chicken is done switch your oven to broil. Your bird will be happier for having a little time to rest, you can cover it loosely with tin foil if you want to keep it warm. Place your zucchini under the broiler and follow these directions for cooking.
Once the beans are soft salt them and cook for another five minutes. Save enough beans for this soup, and anything else you want to make this week. Portion the rest of the beans into plastic containers or zip-lock bags and freeze for another time.
Chill your leftover polenta in whatever form you want (ie: pizza crust, loaf). For other ideas on variety and how to be creative with your ingredients, read more in “Keeping it Fresh.”