This is another dish that gets across the simple, but extremely flavorful approach to much of Galician cuisine. It doesn’t get much more simple and comforting than a pot of flavorful beans, and the clams just bring another level of delicious depth, while making a bowl of beans feel a bit more like a special occasion. This recipe has a cool and different technique, similar to a Catalan bean and mushroom dish I discussed before, as the vegetables are boiled with the beans, before being blended up and added back in as the sauce.
Use your favorite white beans. For me, the larger the better for this dish, but almost any white beans should work.
This dish doesn’t need any accompaniment besides some hearty peasant bread and a nice glass of wine.
1 lb dried white beans
1 medium-sized onion, peeled and left whole
1 red bell pepper, cut in half, seeds and stem removed
4 garlic cloves, peeled, left whole
2 Roma tomatoes, left whole
2 bay leaves
½ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp Pimentón de la Vera
2 lbs clams, cleaned
1. Cover the beans in cold water, and let stand at least 8 hours or overnight.
2. Cook the beans: Drain and rinse the beans, then cover again with cold water in a wide, heavy-bottomed pot or cazuela. Add the onion, bell pepper halves, garlic, and bay leaves, and bring up to a boil on medium heat. Immediately reduce the heat to gently simmer. Scoop off any scum that comes to the surface while the beans cook, and discard.
3. When the beans are almost cooked, add the tomato to the pot with them. You want the tomatoes in the pot for the last 10 minutes or so of the bean cooking time, and be gentle with them so that they don’t explode or disintegrate.
4. When the beans are ready (cooked through), remove the onion, pepper halves, tomatoes, and garlic cloves (if you can find them) from the pan. Peel the tomatoes (this should be quite easy at this point). Blend all of the cooked vegetables together with the cumin, pimentón, and salt until smooth. Add as much of the bean cooking liquid as you need to make things blend well.
5. Strain out most of the bean cooking liquid from the beans and reserve. Add the blended up sauce to the drained beans in the pot, and add just enough liquid to keep the beans well-coated in sauce. Bring the beans back to a gentle simmer, and stir the clams into the pot. Cover, and adjust the heat to keep a gentle simmer. As soon as the clams are open, taste, adjust salt if needed, and serve immediately.
If you want this a little more thin and soup like just add back more of the reserved bean liquid. If you want it thicker, add less.