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Plucking a cookbook off the shelf is easy. But pulling one that’s guaranteed to bear a recipe that boasts seasonal ingredients? That’s a tad trickier. Sure, you can make recipes with ingredients that are out of season—you’ll also be able to find strawberries in the grocery store, for instance, shipped in from warmer climates—but plenty of home cooks prefer to work with what’s growing at this very moment. 

Related Reading: The Best Ways to Use All the Beans in Your Pantry

Enter “Home Cookery Year,” writer and professional chef Claire Thompson’s seasonally driven tome. This massive book is designed to be pulled from the bookcase year-round, divided into four sections, one for each season, with options for budget cooking, salads and light lunches, special occasions, and celebratory feasts. In the summer, you’ll be greeted with recipes like pork chops with peaches, balsamic vinegar, and shallots; while in the colder months you can warm up with a baked, runny cheese, primed to be mopped up with crusty bread and boiled potatoes

Home Cookery Year: Four Seasons, Over 200 Recipes for All Possible Occasions, $37 on Amazon

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With fall, and the inevitable cold weather, fast approaching, look to Claire’s warming recipe for butter beans with spinach, tarragon, bacon, and cream. The dish features all of the comforting ingredients you’ll want to chow down on when the temperature dips, paired with hunks of good bread that have been toasted and rubbed with garlic.

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To make the dish, just grab two cans of butter or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed, and cook down with garlic, heavy cream, and nutmeg. Once the mixture begins to bubble, let it simmer to thicken up before adding the spinach and herbs until just wilted. To serve, sprinkle bits of crumbled bacon on top, plus a squeeze of lemon juice, then prepare to curl up in front of a roaring fire with a blanket and good novel in hand.      

Recipe excerpted with permission from Home Cookery Year by Claire Thompson, published by Quadrille September 2020, RRP $45.00 Hardcover.

Butter Beans with Spinach, Tarragon, Bacon & Cream 

Use streaky bacon for this recipe. Thinly sliced it will exude its fat into the butter as it cooks and crisps in the pan. You could use pancetta, if you prefer. You must then absolutely make use of this bacon fat to marble and dress the creamy tarragon beans. It will boost the seasoning and give more pep to the finished dish. This is midweek cookery with little more than a can of beans, some bacon and spinach – and thick slices of toast, of course.

Butter Beans with Spinach, Tarragon, Bacon & Cream

  • 30g (1oz) unsalted butter
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped (plus another whole clove for the toast)
  • 200ml (7fl oz) double (heavy) cream
  • 2 x 400g (14oz) cans of butter (lima) or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed big pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 100g (3 ½ oz) baby spinach leaves
  • ¼ small bunch of tarragon, leaves picked and roughly chopped
  • 6 rashers of streaky bacon or pancetta, cut into lardon cubes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 slices of good bread, toasted and rubbed with garlic, to serve
  • Juice of ½ lemon (optional), to serve
  1. Melt half the butter in a medium saucepan over a moderate heat and add the chopped garlic. Fry for 2 minutes, until the garlic is just beginning to turn golden brown. Add the cream, beans and nutmeg, stirring to combine. Season well with salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. When the mixture begins to bubble up, reduce the heat to moderate–low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for at least 5 minutes, until the cream has thickened a little. Add the spinach and cook for 2–3 minutes, until just wilted, then add the tarragon and mix well.
  2. If you would like the mixture to be more stew-like, mash some of the beans using a fork for a thicker consistency.
  3. Melt the remaining butter in a cast-iron frying pan over a moderate heat. Add the bacon and fry for 3–5 minutes, until crisp and golden.
  4. To serve, put a slice of toast on each plate, add the beans and top with the bacon, including any of the molten, buttery, bacon fat from the frying pan. Lots of black pepper is good, and you might like to add a little lemon juice to the beans, too.

Header image by Sam Folan.

Amy Schulman is an associate editor at Chowhound. She is decidedly pro-chocolate.
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