Polenta With Heirloom Beans And Chard

½ pound (about 1 cup) dried Rancho Gordo Pinto, Cranberry, or other similar heirloom beans, rinsed and picked over for stones 5 cups water 1 small onion, halved 1 medium or large carrot, diced 3 garlic cloves, 2 crushed, 1 minced A bouquet garni made with a couple of sprigs each parsley and thyme, a bay leaf and a Parmesan rind Salt to taste


1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (more to taste) 1 generous bunch Swiss chard (about 3/4 pound), stemmed, leaves washed in 2 changes water, and chopped (7 to 8 cups chopped greens) 1 tablespoon tomato paste 1 cup Anson Mills polenta or Pencil Cob grits, cooked Freshly grated Parmesan or feta for serving


Chop 1/2 of the onion and set aside. To cook dried beans, transfer with their soaking water to a heavy pot.

If beans are not covered by 1 1/2 to 2 inches of water, add more water as necessary. Over medium-high heat, bring to a gentle boil and skim away foam.  

Add unchopped halved onion, crushed garlic cloves and bouquet garni, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 1 hour. Using tongs, removed halved onion and whole garlic cloves. 

Meanwhile, heat olive oil over medium heat in a medium skillet and add chopped onion and carrot. Cook, stirring, until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes, and add chard stems, garlic and pepper flakes. 

Add chard greens (depending on the size of your pot you may have to add a portion at a time, cover for a minute until the first portion wilts.