As you might have discerned by now, I am a true Mark Bittman fan. I recently picked up The FOod Matters Cookbook, from the bargain table at the UW bookstore. Why it was on the bargain table, I don't know, but I was happy to see it and since I still had rebate money left I decided to make the purchase. It was perfect timing too since I had also recently seen a story on the news about the pink slime - the filler used in much of the ground beef sold in supermarkets. I admit I was happy to hear Bill Marler say that it was actually probably safer than most meat because of the ammonia added to it. But, um, GROSS! I had been thinking about starting to grind my own meat and this convinced me. As Mark Bittman says in his book, since I'm significantly reducing meat and processed food, I can certainly splurge a little on the meat I do buy.
For the most part, though, I am sticking to vegetarian meals six days a week. I've decided to make it my challenge to keep coming up with healthy, vegetarian alternatives. One of my dishes for this week is white bean and kale stew, from the February 2009 issue of Bon Appetit. And, while I used canned beans in this recipe, now, thanks to Mark's easy to follow quick soak method, I'll be sticking with dried beans going forward. Not only do they have more flavor, I avoid having to dispose of the can, and I can control the amount of sodium.
White Bean and Kale Stew (Bon Appetit, February 2009)
- 1 1/2 pounds kale leaves, center ribs and stems removed
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup chopped peeled carrots
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 cup chopped shallots (about 4)
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2 15-ounce cans white beans (preferably organic), drained
- 4 cups (or more) vegetable broth
- 3 fresh thyme sprigs
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon Sherry wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons assorted chopped fresh herbs (such as tarragon, parsley, and chives)
Cook kale in large pot of boiling salted water 1 minute. Drain. Transfer to bowl of ice water to cool. Drain. Squeeze out excess water. Coarsely chop kale.
Heat olive oil in medium pot over medium heat. Add chopped carrots, celery, shallots, and garlic; cook until soft, stirring, about 15 minutes (do not brown vegetables). Add white wine and simmer until liquid is slightly reduced, about 7 minutes. Add white beans, 4 cups broth, thyme sprigs, and bay leaf and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 20 minutes. Add kale and simmer 5 minutes longer. Remove thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Add more broth by 1/2 cupfuls to thin stew, if desired. Mix in Sherry wine vinegar and chopped fresh herbs. Season with salt and pepper.
As I was just re-reading the recipe for this post I realized that I forgot the sherry vinegar. I can see how it would add a nice bright flavor so will dutifully add a little to the remainder of the dish. This is a hearty, full bodied stew that makes you feel as though you have actually eaten something good, and good for you.
My next meal from my weekend prep was not quite as successful. I made a penang vegetable tofu curry. Having reviewed the recipe again after making it, I would suggest using stock of some sort, probably vegetable, rather than water. The curry tasted a little insipid. It looks pretty but I'm not going to include the recipe below because it's just not good enough to share. Once I tweak it to be more palatable, I'll post my version.
I'm taking a little break this weekend and going on a bit of a get away with the parents. We are going away, but staying close to home, to a place that acts as a beacon to ships in the darkness of night, but in the end really makes you ask, what's the point? Hope you all have a delightful weekend - I know I will.