Sometimes, my dinners aren’t well-planned as they are created from the necessity of using what’s in the fridge or pantry that needs to go.
A couple of weeks ago, I realized that I still had some Rancho Gordo rice beans (they’re small, white beans that look like fat grains of rice) that needed to be finished up. I cooked them for dinner (in the Crock Pot) but I just didn’t love them. Despite hours of cooking, they were still a bit tough for my taste. So I put the leftovers in the fridge while I tried to figure out what to do with them. And that’s when I remembered that the texture was similar to garbanzo beans, so I figured I could substitute them in a white bean puree (like a hummus) recipe. So there was my base.
I also had some organic spring asparagus in the refrigerator leftover from my mom’s visit. We didn’t eat it and it was not going to last much longer, so then I had my side dish.
Now, what to serve as the main? What would go great with that rice bean puree? Hen of the woods mushrooms! I picked some up at the local international market (Whole Foods carries them, too; they are also known as maitake mushrooms or signorina) and I had my meal planned and got to use up what I needed to from the refrigerator.
I wasn’t really planning on sharing this, but the picture I posted on Instagram got quite a few interested comments, so here it is! Though for the puree, I suggest using cannelini beans rather than rice beans. First, you can find canned cannelinis fairly easily and second, even dried rice beans are difficult to find. The really important part of the puree—in my opinion—is the thyme. It gave it a really nice flavor. I also used it for the mushrooms and they only needed a light sprinkle of salt and pepper.
Here's the recipe for white bean puree (but use vegetable broth! I like Better than Bouillon) and also the instructions for cooking the hen of the woods mushrooms. For the asparagus, just lightly coat the cleaned springs in olive oil and roast at 400F until just tender (check after 5 minutes; don't overcook because no one likes a shriveled sprig!). Finish with a light sprinkle of salt.
Here's the not-very-good photo of the result. It was far more delicious than it appears!