It is a new year and like so many others around me — though I say I am not going to — I once again start to think in terms of resolutions. There are the time-old favorites like "I am going to start working out every day and lose 20 pounds" or "I am going to do a better job at keeping up with the laundry"... you get the gist. But this year I asked myself one simple question: What will make me a happier person? The Other Half often says, "Happy wife, happy life" and being the smart man that he is, he does many things to facilitate that. As for me - I tend to put myself last and make sure everyone else is taken care of. I come by it honestly - from a long line of women with the same trait. But when I asked myself what would make me happy these things came to mind: create, read, cook, eat and write. Could it really be that simple? Maybe so. To that end I am going to try and be better about writing on here because doing so will address pretty much all the other needs. One fly in the ointment is that it doesn't really address that pesky 20 pounds, so I will try to post recipes that are healthier and maybe I can make peace that way. The laundry will just have to wait...
So, first recipe of the new year is a White Bean Stew. I usually sit down on Sundays and write up a menu for the week. Makes grocery shopping on Mondays with my wee-pod go quicker and tends to keeps the impulse purchases to a minimum. I try and do a different protein every night — Chicken/Turkey, Fish, Pork or Red Meat, Pasta and of late a Vegetarian dish one night a week. I haven't gone all crazy with the tofu yet but I have found a couple of great bean recipes. I particularly like this one because I can easily add roast chicken or sausage to The Other Half's bowl if he is feeling the need for protein. I have recently reintroduced myself to my bread machine and have found that some good herb bread and a small salad are really all you need to make this a hearty, stick-to-your-ribs meal.
Couple of notes:
Wash bean then put in a bowl, cover with water plus 2 inches. Throw away
any beans that float to the surface. Let the remaining beans soak for
up to 12 hours. Beans that soak longer than that might sprout. Soak for as long as you can though. The second time I made this recipe I only soaked the beans for four hours and the recipe was not as nice and creamy.
Grocery store onions these day are huge. One "regular" size onion is usually about 2 cups. If you are lucky to have a good food co-op by you and your onions are not on steroids, you might need a couple to make up two cups.
Peeling garlic cloves is a pain in the butt I know, but take the time to try and keep the cloves as intact as possible.
Use fresh herbs - in this recipe it really will make a big difference. Don't be frightened by the garlic and resist any urge to mince it. By the time you get done cooking it the cloves will have disintegrated. I promise you will not melt anyone's eyebrows off after eating it.
Is you want to add protein add some diced rotisserie chicken or grilled kilbasa.
White Bean Stew
1-1/2 cups dried cannelini or great northern beans, washed and picked over
1 head of garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chopped onions
4 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1/4" rounds
14.5 oz can whole diced tomatoes ( I use Muir Glen Fire Roasted, No Salt Added)
1-1/2 cup stock (chicken or vegetable)
1 cup water
8-10 fresh basil leaves, washed and julienned and divided
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup chopped parsley
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon
Wash and soak beans. Drain and set aside.
Break the head of garlic into cloves and peel.
Heat oil in a heavy bottom pot over low heat. Cool the garlic, onions and carrots in the oil until the onions are soft and golden, stirring frequently. Keep the pot covered between stirrings.
Add the beans to the pot. Then add the tomatoes. Add stock and water, half the basil and oregano. Cover the pot and bring up to a simmer. Let simmer for about one and a half hours until the beans are very soft. Gently press the garlic cloves to the side of the pot with a spoon.
Add salt and pepper and remaining basil and let simmer another 5 minutes. Just before serving add parsley and lemon juice and stir.