As I promised on facebook yesterday, The Beloved has written today's post, the first of 2014! Happy New Year, friends. I hope you enjoy our meal. It is from The Great Vegan Bean Book by my friend and Vegan Cookbook Author Extraordinaire, Kathy Hester. All links to the book in this post are indeed affiliate links, so if you pick up a copy through the link, I shall earn a few cents to help feed the kittens. And for further disclosure's sake, I was sent a copy of The Great Vegan Bean book.
And without further ado, I give the floor over to The Beloved. With the occasional Parenthetical and Italicized Interjection from yours truly.
Every now and then, Jenni invites someone to do a guest post, and today it's me, the Beloved. It all started about four months ago when Jenni and I sat down and perused the pages of Kathy Hester's latest (at the time) release, The Great Vegan Bean Book. (This is a great book, even for folks who like to eat meat. Kathy puts beans in everything from breakfasts to desserts. Her writing style is very accessible, and she gives plenty of options for bean choice). Now, I am by no means a vegetarian, let alone vegan. I'm a proud omnivore, but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate tasty and healthy food of all sorts, even if there is no meat involved. I will even occasionally go out of my way to enjoy such eats locally. I can definitely tell you that I have never gone out of my way to cook in either of those styles; it happened from time to time when I was a starving graduate student, but not by choice.
So imagine my surprise (and Jenni's) when, as we were paging through recipes and photographs, I say, "You know, we should try some of these out; they look really good." (Huzzah, Beloved!) After some discussion, I even volunteered to try putting a dish together solo. (I made him do it.) Now friends, other than cranking out Free Range Fruitcakes every fall and the infrequent bachelor meals when Jenni is out of commission, I haven't done any substantive amount of from-scratch cooking in over a decade. I'm a little rusty, so I wanted something that sounded tasty, would let me knock the dust off some basic skills, and not leave me in the kitchen for hours prepping and cursing.
After going back and forth through the book a few times, I settled on Creole White Beans, but there were a lot of contenders. (We very much liked the sound of Pesto White Bean Salad, Brown Rice Fava Bean Risotto, New Orleans Red Bean Jambalaya, and I still have my eye on the Vanilla and Rosewater Parfaits.) This particular recipe had both stove-top and slow cooker options, as well as a choice of canned or dry beans. I chose stove-top and canned for the sake of brevity, but the next recipe I try (yes, there will be more!) will be dry beans in the slow cooker. It was pretty straightforward - you sauté some onion in olive oil, followed by the other veggies, herbs, and spices in short order. Add beans, boil simmer, etc. The recipe calls for veggie bouillon and "the appropriate amount of water," but I opted for low-sodium vegetable broth. Why? (Because I told him it was okay.) Because we didn't have bouillon and it tends to be too salty right out the gate. Like Jenni, I am a big proponent of proper seasoning, especially salt, but I prefer to have more control over it than not. (He's such a good student!)
Kathy specifically mentions the creaminess of this dish in the introduction at the top of the page, and she's right. Between the sautéing and the natural smoothness of the "meat" of the white beans, the texture and taste was great; creamy with some (but not too much) spiciness. It was not al dente, but it was also not mush, which can easily happen, so definitely watch the cook time and try the beans every few minutes to get the texture you want. Total time from prep to plate was 60 minutes, plus a few to let it cool off enough to eat. It would have been less if I had started the rice earlier in the process. Did I mention I was rusty? As for the rice, I used veggie broth for part of the cooking liquid. Why? Because I could! And it also brought some flavor to the party. Rice can easily be bland, and even flatten the flavor of what is poured over it, if it isn't seasoned properly in and of itself.
(Ahem. I made the rice. Because he asked me to. He is taking Liberties with the story. I thought you should know. Carry on, Beloved, but I've got my eye on you...)
As for taking this out of the vegan/vegetarian zone, it's as simple as using chicken broth instead of veggie if that is what is lying around in your cupboard. You can certainly add animal protein in a variety of forms. If I do, it would probably be chicken, but you can use anything that wouldn't overpower the beans and spices (i.e. no goat or lamb). (Or Andouille sausage would be spectacular.) This particular venture actually yielded 6 portions instead of the 4 in the recipe, and you could certainly scale it up even further for larger groups or for freezing left-overs for later on.
That's all for this post. Take care!
Here is Kathy's recipe for her Creole White Beans.
- 2 Tablespoons (28ml) olive oil
- ½ small onion, minced
- 1 bell pepper, cored, seeded, and minced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 stalks celery, minced
- 1½ teaspoons thyme
- 1½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- f2 tablespoons (12g) veggie bouillon
- 1 cup (215g) dried white beans plus 4 cups (950ml) water or
- 2 cans (15 oz or 425g each), rinsed and drained, plus 2 cups (475ml) water
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Cooked rice, for serving
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a soup pot Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minute, and then add the bell pepper and garlic Saute for 2 minutes more, and then add the celery, herbs, spices, bouillon, and dry or canned beans and appropriate amount of water.
- Bring to a boil over high heat and then decrease the heat to low and cover. Cook until the beans are soft and ready to eat. It will only take about 15 or 20 minutes if you are using canned beans, but it will take 40 to 70 minutes for dried beans. If they are a little watery, increase the heat, uncover, and cook until they are the thickness you prefer. Remove the bay leaves. Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking Serve over rice.
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a soup pot. Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes, and then add the bell pepper and garlic. Saute for 2 minutes more. Transfer to the slow cooker and add the rest of the ingredients except the salt and pepper, but use only 3 cups (700ml) water. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.
- Remove the bay leaves. Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking. Serve over rice.
Thank you, Beloved, so much for making this delicious meal for us and also for writing your very first post. I am so proud!
And thanks Kathy, for all the delicious bean recipes and for all the great information on heirloom varieties of beans in The Great Vegan Bean Book. Huzzah!
Thank you all for spending some time with The Beloved and me today, and thanks for reading. Have the absolute best 2014 that you can have. That is certainly our intention.
Have a lovely day.