Beans are great by themselves as well as being an excellent complement to vegetables or proteins. I like these kinds of side dishes because in one pot you have the legumes and the vegetables. Here the beans and squash are sweet; the tartness and complexity of the balsamic reduction balances them out. I usually toast up two slices of bread and use them to accompany this dish and to sop up any juices.
- For the balsamic reduction
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- For the squash and beans
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, cubed
- Kosher salt
- Peperoncino flakes
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
- 3 fresh bay leaves
- 2 cups cooked cannellini beans (or one 15.5-ounce can, rinsed and drained)
- 3 scallions, chopped
For the balsamic reduction: Combine the balsamic, honey, bay leaf, and rosemary in a small saucepan or skillet. Bring to a boil, and cook until it’s syrupy, 4 to 5 minutes. (Watch carefully toward the end, so it doesn’t scorch). Remove and discard the rosemary and bay leaf. Let the mixture cool. You should have about 3 to 4 tablespoons syrupy balsamic reduction.
For the squash and beans: Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the butternut squash, and toss to coat it in the oil. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and a big pinch of peperoncino. Cook to brown the edges of the squash, about 4 minutes; then add the garlic and bay leaves and 1 cup water. Reduce the heat so the mixture is simmering. Cover, and cook until the squash is almost tender, about
15 minutes more, stirring occasionally.
Uncover, and add the beans and scallions. Cook until the scallions wilt and the beans are heated through, 3 to 4 minutes. Discard the bay leaves. Season with salt, if needed, and add a final drizzle of olive oil. Serve in the skillet or a shallow serving bowl. Drizzle with some of the balsamic reduction at the table. (If you don’t use all of the reduction, it will keep at room temperature in a small covered container for a week, and you can use it to finish vegetables, fish, pork, or chicken.)