Beans are one of those foods that have a somewhat negative reputation: too mushy, too dry, too bland…and those complaints pale in comparison to the “event” that is basically synonymous with bean consumption…we all know what that is…
I, however, adore beans. I come from a family of bean lovers. I even loved lima beans as a child! As a vegan, I turn to beans quite often for their rich fiber content, the protein boost they give, and for the depth they add to many dishes. As well, they stand up so very well to whatever flavour agent you stir into them. Is there anything nicer than black beans seasoned with cumin? Or chickpeas with curry? Mmmmmmm….
I had a kitchen day on Monday; I spent the entire day in my favourite polka dot apron grating zucchini, soaking and cooking beans, rolling pastry, chopping produce, and spraying flour over every surface. It was magical! Most of the day was spent baking (I had a ridiculously large yellow zucchini that needed to become a bumper crop of dense, delicious bread and a couple of peaches that were destined to warm up and soften in a blanket of flaky pastry); but, I figured I would look really bad in Husband’s eyes if I spent all day in the kitchen and didn’t even make dinner. I figured with all the baked goods coming out of the oven, he’d overlook the simplicity of a bean stew for dinner.
When it was served, though, we both forgot about all the baked goods cooling on the kitchen counters and could concentrate only on the marvelousness that was this humble bean stew. Flavoured with salt, pepper, white wine, and coconut milk, this stew was nothing like the tasty-but-a-little-bland dish I had envisioned. The coconut milk didn’t overpower at all, it was more of a sweet richness in the background. The veggies and beans were in their glory, simply sautéed and then simmered slowly over low heat. The wine…oh, the wine! Why don’t I cook with wine more often?!?! It is a revelation in flavour development!
Served in generous proportions with a wedge of zucchini cornbread on the side, it left us wanting for nothing in a meal. Of course, we still polished off a peach galette for dessert…I’m a slave to my taste-buds…never do I say no to dessert!
Bean Stew with White Wine and Coconut Milk
-1 cup dried white beans, rinsed and drained
-1 T. olive oil
-1 medium-sized onion, peeled and chopped
-1 large clove garlic, peeled and minced
-2 stalks celery, chopped
-3 carrots, peeled and sliced
-3 large cremini mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
-salt and pepper, to taste
-1 cup white wine (I used a sweet German variety)
-3/4-1 cup coconut milk
Put the beans in a pot and cover with at least 3 inches of water. Cover and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes and then take off the heat. Let sit for 1 hour, and then drain. Put the beans back into the pot with enough water to cover by at least 3 inches. Cover and bring back to a boil; reduce heat and cook till tender, about 40 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables. Preheat a large skillet with the oil. Add the onions and sauté for 2 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and sauté an additional 1 minute. Stir in the remaining vegetables and sauté until slightly softened, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cooked beans, wine and coconut milk. Let it come up to a gentle boil, then reduce heat and let stew simmer till most of the liquid is evaporated, about 25-30 minutes. Serve immediately.