Often when returning from a trip somewhere, I go a little nuts stocking up on produce at the grocery store. Traveling is often light on fruits and veggies, and being back in control of my kitchen gets me excited to cook up a storm.
So this week when I started to feel like I was pressing my luck with the zucchini and kale in the veggie drawer, I pulled together this Bean and Kale Vegetable Stew, adapted from Smitten Kitchen recipe I like quite a bit. Actually one of my favorite things about that recipe is how adaptable it is to whatever I have on hand. The first time I made it was the first time I had added wine to soup or stew, and it was a revelation.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Chard and White Bean Stew
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 15 oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 14.5 oz can whole tomatoes, pureed
- 4 medium carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 medium brown onion, diced
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 c red wine
- 2 c vegetable broth (made from Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base) + 1 c water
- 1 medium zucchini, quartered and sliced about 1/2 in. thick
- 1 bunch kale, stems removed and coarsely chopped
- 3/4 tsp dried thyme
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
Cook kale in a pot of salted boiling water for 1 min., then drain and set aside.
Saute carrots, onion, and garlic in olive oil for about 15 min. Add wine and cook until it’s reduced by 3/4. Add beans, broth, tomatoes, salt and pepper, and thyme and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 min. Add kale and zucchini and cook for 5 more minutes. Stir in vinegar and season to taste.
I don’t typically get excited about non-cream-based soups or stews, but this one really hits the spot. The darker take on the original recipe (the red wine, kidney beans, kale) is hearty and complex. I especially like it with a little grated parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil on top.
This stew is perfect on days that I haven’t eaten enough veggies, because it’s a whole bunch packed into one bowl.
And now I have an open bottle of red wine in the refrigerator, ready for another dish…perhaps a tomato pasta sauce of some kind.
I’ve been in a casserole mood of late. It’s so nice to prepare something once and then enjoy it for several days (especially when I’m keeping busy making things for my shop). There’s a great basic mix and match casserole formula in The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever, by Beatrice Ojakangas, that provides guidance with lots of flexibility. I used her formula before with my Whole Wheat Tuna Noodle Casserole.
My take on Beatrice’s formula wasn’t originally going to have an Italian theme, since it was starting with rice and beans. But after choosing my veggies, sauce, and topping it started to look like a natural fit. All that was needed for seasoning was some oregano.
Everything came together so well, and I love how it turned out. This casserole is hearty and delicious, and leftovers reheat great.
Italian Veggie Casserole with Beans and Rice
Makes a generous 3-qt casserole (mine filled all the way to the brim of my dish)
- 1 c brown rice
- 2 tbsp butter, divided into 1 tbsp + 1 1/2 tsp + 1 1/2 tsp
- 12 large cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 2 tsp oil
- 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
- 1 medium zucchini, cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch chunks
- 2 c cooked navy beans
- 14.5 oz can whole tomatoes
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1/2 c grated Parmesan
- Cook brown rice according to directions, adding 1 tbsp of butter to the boiling water.
- Heat the remaining 1 1/2 tsp butter and 1 tsp oil in a pan over medium heat and add onion slices. Cook over medium low heat until they start to brown (or you can take them all the way to caramelized). Set aside.
- Now that the brown rice and onions are started, it’s a good time to preheat the oven to 350°. Butter a generous-3-qt casserole dish.
- Saute mushrooms in 1 1/2 tsp butter and 1 tsp oil over medium heat until moisture cooks off. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
- Boil a saucepan of enough water to come a couple of inches above the zucchini slices. Add the zucchini and simmer for a few minutes until just tender. Avoid overcooking and turning them to mush. Drain and set aside.
- Pulse the tomatoes (with juices) in a blender or food processor until the chunks smooth out. Then pour into a small bowl and stir in the garlic and oregano. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- In a large bowl, gently mix the beans, rice, zucchini, onions, and mushrooms. Spread into the prepared dish. Pour tomato sauce evenly over top. Sprinkle the cheese evenly on top and cover.
- Bake for 30 minutes with cover on, then remove cover and bake an additional 10-15 minutes, until browned and heated through.
- Remove and let rest for about 10 minutes, then serve.