Chicken Marbella Without the Chicken

Reimagining an ’80s classic — with beans!

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By Tejal Rao

The other day, I was thinking about Chicken Marbella, a dish that had a real moment in the 1980s, when it was made famous by Sheila Lukins and Julee Rosso in “The Silver Palate Cookbook.”

I imagined the main flavors of the dish — oregano and bay leaves, capers and red wine vinegar, prunes and green olives — would be so good with big, thin-skinned, very creamy beans and some crisp, roasted fingerling potatoes. All that brine and tang! All that sweetness!

It’s always a bit of fun to remake a dish you like by applying its core set of flavors to beans — beans piccata, beans alla vodka, beans caprese, etc.

Here’s a go at Beans Marbella:

Simmer dried beans with bay leaves and dried oregano until very tender. Roast a sheet pan of halved fingerling potatoes until golden brown and tender all the way through. In a skillet, sauté a few cloves of chopped garlic. As the edges of the garlic start to color, add a splash of red wine and reduce it by about half.

Add the beans and just enough of the cooking liquid to cover them. Taste and season with salt and pepper, then top the beans with halved green olives, roughly chopped prunes and a glug of olive oil. Simmer on the stovetop for about 10 minutes. In a bowl, mix the roasted potatoes with a handful of torn parsley, chopped capers, shallots soaked in red wine vinegar, and olive oil, and scatter on top of the beans.

I used fingerlings because they’re at the farmers’ markets right now in Los Angeles, but I think that salad-y topping over the beans could just as easily have been made with browned summer squash, or roasted artichokes, or just some nice torn salad leaves and herbs.

If you’re drawn to all the great asparagus at the markets right now, I think Rick Martinez’s version of papadzules belongs on your to-cook list. The dish revolves around a delicious sauce that he makes in a blender by puréeing pepitas, scallions, garlic, jalapeños, cilantro and lime juice. Dip warm tortillas right into that luxuriously creamy sauce, then roll them up with seasoned boiled eggs and asparagus — it’s a simple and truly special spring dish.

If all you’re seeing is that skinny, pencil-thin asparagus, a pound of that would actually be perfect for Kay Chun’s quick black pepper stir-fried tofu. Kay suggests serving it with rice or lettuce cups, which doesn’t mean you can’t serve it with both rice and lettuce cups, a particularly satisfying combination.

Beans and Greens Alla Vodka

Go to the recipe.

Papadzules (Eggs and Asparagus in Tortillas With Pepita Sauce)

Go to the recipe.

Black Pepper Stir-Fried Tofu With Asparagus

Go to the recipe.

One More Thing

If you’re cooking outside, here’s a fun collection of vegetable dishes, including grilled nopales en chile rojo, grilled asparagus with caper salsa and a grilled corn and avocado salad with feta dressing. And if you’re looking for specific ideas in the Veggie this summer, please don’t hesitate to send me a note with suggestions: [email protected]

Thanks for reading, and see you next week!

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