Posts Tagged ‘beans’

Here I am, almost two month since the last food post, groveling and asking that you rejoin me at our table on our deck, surrounded by our garden of vegetables, herbs and flowers, bask in the setting sun and light Hawaiian trade winds, so that we once again can break bread together.

I do feel that I owe a brief explanation to those of you who have faithfully been checking in and those of you who have been commenting despite the silence. In a nutshell, we have had two very busy months. We started a home improvement project that, of course, dragged on far longer than anticipated. The actual labor was done relatively quickly thanks, in part, to our minimal square footage – painting the walls shades of blue (and bright yellow in the bathroom) and replacing the forlorn carpet with laminate wood flooring in a warm shade of oak to create an effect of a beach side cottage (in reality we live on the side of a volcano and are a three minute drive from the ocean). What took so long was the finishing work (baseboards, caulking, transitions, etc) and dragging everything back into the house, unpacking, reorganizing, and so on and so forth. There was also much going on at work. We had family visit for two weeks. We puddle-hopped over to the Big Island for some R&R with the visiting fam.

Additionally, on a more somber note, we’ve had people close to us facing some serious health issues. My instinct, in addition to offering all manner of support that I can, is to feed people when times get tough, stressful, or scary. Food is love, food is health, and food is nourishing both for our bodies and our souls. But when faced with health issues, people should be fed as well as possible – not the cakes, pies, and cookies loaded with sugar that are my initial instinct to whip up. This has led me to critically consider the way I cook and eat and has made me face the hard reality that I use and consume entirely too much sugar and too much white flour. This amount of sugar can undo the work put into carefully choosing produce and focusing on using all fresh ingredients and whole foods. So, as I happily jump back into the world of cooking and baking, expect to see a focus on the same delicious foods but, in the case of my sweet teeth, expect to also see a focus on natural sweeteners, whole grains, and healthier treats.

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
— Virginia Woolf

It’s good to be back. Let’s eat!

White Bean, Mushroom, and Smoked Sundried Tomato Pasta
Serves 4

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 ½ cups sliced white mushrooms
1 15 oz. can white beans, drained
1/3 cup smoked sundried tomatoes, soaked in boiling water to rehydrate and then cut into small pieces
5 tbs tomato soaking liquid
2 tbsp fresh herbs, chopped (I used rosemary, basil, oregano, and parsley from my garden)
Salt, pepper, and hot red pepper flakes to taste
Olive oil for drizzling

Pasta of your choice (I used whole wheat spaghetti)

1. Put a pot of water on for the pasta, and soak the sundried tomatoes in a bowl of hot or boiling water for about 10 minutes or until soft.

2. Meanwhile, Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat, and sauté the onion for 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic, sauté 1-2 minutes, then add the mushrooms. Saute for about 5 minutes.

3. Add the beans and tomatoes to the pan and add 5 tbsp of the tomato soaking liquid. Add more if the bean mixture begins to stick. Cook for 5-7 minutes.

4. Add salt, pepper, and hot red pepper flakes to taste. Sprinkle on the herbs and drizzle with olive oil. Serve over pasta.


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I don’t watch much TV, but when I do it’s almost always one of the following:

1. CNN with my tea and breakfast on the weekdays, no exceptions
2. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Cobert Report hour
3. Project Runway
4. Competitive cooking shows (ie. The Iron Chef, Top Chef, etc.)

One recent show that pulled me in was The Next Food Network Star. Strange, I know, given that the Food Network is wont to showcase all things meat and cheese, but I enjoy watching people get creative with their ingredients. I find that it inspires me to get into my kitchen or onto our grill and try something new.

Such was the case with this recipe. I have to expose my non-Foodie ways and admit that I had never even heard of cassoulet before the Throwdown episode of The Next Food Network Star, wherein the final four contestants got paired off and had to make not only their signature dish but attempt to outdo their competitor’s signature dish, as well – all in 45 minutes.

Lisa Garza, the prim and proper reincarnation of Martha Stewart, declared her signature dish to be cassoulet. To me it seemed a given that she would choose something French for her dish. She described cassoulet as being “beans and sausage” and a comfort food. Interesting. By the time she was done (and Bobby Flay declared her cassoulet to be the best he’s ever had) I was hooked. This was a dish that would be mine.

Veganizing Lisa’s cassoulet recipe was surprisingly easy. Her original recipe can be found here. I cut back on the amount of oil and garlic, I exchanged her sausage and chicken stock for their vegan counterparts, and I replaced her spinach pesto with my basil pesto. I was happy to be able to use herbs straight from my garden for this dish. (On a complete aside: if you do not grow your own herbs, I highly recommend that you change that right now. If you don’t have a garden plot, herbs grow just as well in pots on a windowsill. Fresh herbs snipped from the plant moments before use in a recipe adds a freshness to food that con not be replicated by store bought herbs.)

In the end, I must say that this dish is pretty amazing. It looks fancy and like it took a lot of work, while at the same time it is very comforting and flavorful – and it only took about an hour. I made this for us after work one day – while it simmered I was able to take care of other things around the house (I love recipes that allow me to multi task!)  It also makes fantastic leftovers for lunch the next day.

(I must apologize for the subpar photos for this post – they most definitely do not portray the loveliness of this dish!)

White Bean Cassoulet
Recipe adapted from Lisa Garza from The Next Food Network Star

3 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 herb bouquet tied with string: 4 stems fresh rosemary, 8 stems fresh oregano, 10 stems fresh thyme
1 dry bay leaf
2 cans white beans
2 quarts Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base
4 links Field Grain Co. Spicy Italian Sausages

1. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and cook until lightly browned at the edges. Add the garlic and stir for about 30 seconds

2. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the sausages. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 40 minutes.

3. While the beans and vegetables are simmering, heat a small amount of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Brown the sausages on each side, remove from heat, and slice into ¼ inch slices.

4. Stir in the sausage and cook for 10 more minutes.

5. To serve: ladle into bowls, top with a dollop of pesto, and serve with a crostini.


1 French baguette, cut into ½ inch slices
A few tablespoons olive oil
A few teaspoons nutritional yeast
1-2 cloves garlic

1. Heat the oven to 400F.

2. Lightly brush each slice of bread with olive oil. Sprinkle each slice with nutritional yeast.

3. Place the bread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes on middle rack.

4. Remove bread from oven, and rub each slice with the cloves of garlic. Serve warm.

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Beans with Fresh Herbs

As I sat this afternoon scheming up what to make for dinner, I suddenly remembered the can of canelli beans I had sitting in my pantry. I also had several plump red tomatoes from a friend’s garden sitting on my counter and an abundance of fresh green herbs happily basking in the sun in my own garden.

In my mind, white beans + tomatoes + fresh herbs = delicious.

But wait …

White beans + tomatoes + fresh herbs + caramelized onions = my simple and delicious dinner for tonight.

As I happily set about caramelizing onions and picking my herbs out of my garden, I was excitedly looking forward to dressing up my canelli beans with such fresh ingredients. Imagine my dismay when I opened my pantry and realized that my canelli beans were merely a figment of my imagination. (The question remains: where in the world did I see those beans???) My choices were black beans or garbanzo beans. I went with the garbanzo beans as they fit more into my picture of what this dish was supposed to look like on my plate.

As I sat down to my plate of caramelized onions, tomatoes, fresh herbs, and garbanzo beans, I was resentfully eying the grabanzos and rueing that they were not canelli beans. They weren’t even butter beans.  All it took, however, was one bite for me to quickly make amends with my beloved garbanzos and tell them that I will never doubt them again …

Beans with Fresh Herbs

1 tbsp olive oil
½ large onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 15.5 oz can garbanzo beans
2 tomatoes, diced
1 ½ tbsp chopped fresh herbs (oregano, basil, parsley, and rosemary)
Salt & pepper to taste

1. Heat olive oil over medium heat, add onion, lower heat to medium low, and sauté the onions for 35-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions turn a nice caramel brown color.
2. Add the garlic, sauté for 30 seconds, add garbanzos, and turn heat up to medium. Cook for 5 minutes.
3. Add the tomatoes; cook for an additional five minutes. Stir in fresh herbs, cooks for 2-3 more minutes, season with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with sprigs of fresh herbs.

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Green Papaya Salad

Tonight I came home from work and was quite hungry when I walked in the door. By the time I made it into the kitchen to prepare dinner I was ready to eat.  Now.  I wanted something fresh, something healthy, and, of course, something delicious. I decided upon making a papaya salad boat by slicing a papaya in half, scooping out the seeds, and filling each half with a salad mixture.

I first mixed up a salad mixture by pulling together some ingredients I had on hand that I thought would go well together: black beans, red pepper, avocado, tomatoes, lime juice, agave nectar, ginger, cilantro, and mint. Once I was satisfied with the flavors of the salad mixture, I went to grab one of the papayas … and discovered that not a one of them had yet ripened. D’oh!  “What now?” I asked myself as I drummed my fingers on the counter top and mulled my culinary condundrum. That’s when I decided to stick to my guns and still use the papaya. I pulled my box grater off the shelf and grated the papaya into the salad mixture and I was then on my way towards creating my interpretation of a green papaya salad.

To compliment the papaya salad I made a mango “salsa” to top it with with the flavors of cashew, sesame oil, and chili garlic sauce. What I ended up with was exactly what I had been hoping for when I walked into the kitchen: something fresh, healthy, and packed with flavor.




Green Papaya Salad
Serves 2

1 unripe papaya
1 15 oz can of black beans
½ cup chopped tomato
½ red pepper, diced
½ avocado, diced
2 ½ tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp agave
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 tbsp chopped mint

1 ripe mango, diced
½ cup chopped cashews
1 tsp sesame oil
1-2 tsp chili garlic sauce (depending upon how much heat you want)
Salt to taste
Cilantro and mint to garnish

1. Using the large holes on a box grater, grate an unripe papaya into a medium bowl.
2. Mix in all ingredients from the black beans through to the mint. Stir well to combine.
3. Mix the mango, cashews, oil, chili garlic sauce, and salt in a separate bowl.
4. To plate: fill a small ramekin (or other similar vessel) with half of the papaya mixture and turn out onto a plate. Top the papaya mixture with half of the mango mixture. Garnish with cilantro and mint. Repeat for the second serving and enjoy!

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Veggie Chili Love

Food can convey so much of how we feel to people. What kinds of food make you think of love? Traditionally, things such as chocolate truffles, a fine wine, or a fancily plated expensive meal are the usual suspects put forth as the ways to show that we care. Happily, I live with someone who believes that love is home made and not store bought. In appreciation of this sentiment, I cooked him up a large batch of one of his favorite foods: chili. This may seem like a strange choice for a romantic dinner, but what can I say? Nothing from the kitchen says “love” to my sweetie like a big ol’ serving of comfort food. With the little bit of cocoa that I snuck in as a nod to romance, I think this is a perfect dish to make for your sweetie for Valentine’s Day.


Veggie Chili Love

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bell peppers, diced
3 medium sized carrots, diced
1 ½ tsp chili powder
1 ½ tsp cumin
½ tsp cinnamon
2 14.5oz cans diced tomatoes with juice
2 15oz cans black beans
2 15.25oz cans kidney beans
1 cup vegetable broth
3 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 10oz bag frozen corn
2 avocados, diced
Salt & pepper to taste
Lime juice to taste
Chipotle hot sauce to taste
Fresh cilantro for garnish

1. Heat olive oil in large pot over medium heat, add the onion and sauté for 8 minutes. Add garlic, cook for 30 seconds. Add the peppers and carrots and sauté for 5 minutes, then add the spices and cook for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.

2. Add the tomatoes and their juice, the beans, the broth, the cocoa, and the tomato paste, stir well. Increase heat to bring to boil, then lower heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring every so often.

3. Add the corn and simmer, covered, for an additional five minutes.

4. Remove chili from heat. Allow it to sit for 10-20 minutes to thicken up a bit more. While it is sitting, chop the avocado and cilantro.

5. To serve: top each bowl of chili with a splash of lime juice, and few dashes of chipotle hot sauce, a generous heaping of avocado, salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with the fresh cilantro. You can serve this as is, or you can add a carbohydrate and serve over a baked potato, mashed potatoes, or, as I did, serve it over brown rice.


Thanks to Emily’s suggestion in the comments of a previous post, I am entering this recipe into the Vegetable Love Contest being held by Susan, aka The Fat Free Vegan. She has asked “food bloggers to post their most romantic, most seductive vegetable recipes…something suitable for a cozy dinner by candlelight…something that says “I love you, and I don’t want to see you keel over with a heart attack!” Yes, these enticing, aphrodisiacal dishes should also be healthy–specifically, vegan and low in fat.”

She will be posting a round up of all of the recipes for 24 hours of voting on Monday, February 10th. You should head over there and check them all out – and if you find one that looks delicious (*ahem*) you should cast your vote!



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