Braised Lemon, Leek, & Pancetta Beans on Toast

The beans are rich and creamy and make for the perfect textural contrast to the crisp, buttery toasts.

Serves 4

2 cups of Romano beans, soaked overnight (or for at least 5 hours)
¾ cup pancetta, cubed
2 celery stalks, sliced thin
3 large leeks, white and light green parts only, cleaned and sliced thin
4 cups sodium-free stock (vegetable or chicken)
zest from 1 lemon
juice from 1 lemon
3 sprigs tarragon+more for garnish
½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
salt & pepper, to taste
few pinches red pepper flakes (optional)
1 loaf crusty white or whole wheat bread

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Place a large heavy pot (with fitted lid) on the stove over medium-high heat and let it warm up.
  3. Add the cubed pancetta and let the fat render until it’s crisp. Remove to a paper-towel-lined bowl.
  4. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the pancetta fat from the pot and add the leeks and celery. Stir until they’ve softened. This will take about 4–5 minutes.
  5. Add the beans, stock, lemon zest, lemon juice, tarragon sprigs, a few pinches of salt, a generous amount of black pepper, and red pepper flakes.
  6. Bring to a boil. Put the lid on and place in the oven for 1½ hours.
  7. Remove the lid, stir everything around and place in the oven for another 40–60 minutes, until there is still enough liquid to keep things moist, but not soggy.
  8. Serve over toasted bread, garnished with tarragon and pepper.