Mediterranean Style Bean Stew
As a child, I disliked most beans other than runner beans (and of course, baked beans) and it wasn’t until my late 20’s that I developed a liking for broad beans after trying them in cream with a little garlic and smoked bacon. Now I can happily eat them just lightly steamed on their own. Butter beans were a no-no right up until last year and I have discovered that I actually like them in soups and stews. Kidney beans add a dash of colour and the chickpeas and cannellini were used simply because they were there.
Most of my beans, up til now, have been tinned, mostly for convenience but dried beans mean I can make up my own mixes as I go along. Unfortunately, I’ve only ever found dried beans and pulses in nasty little bags that can’t be recycled, so I did a little investigating. Eureka! Hodmedod are a British company that grow and sell their own dried, and tinned, beans, pulses and grains. They are sold in varying sizes of bags from 500g to a tonne or more. That’s some bulk buying! Some of the smaller bags can be composted and they’re working to make the bigger bags more eco-friendly.
I’ve also discovered Gaia Wholefoods , a stall in Lincoln Market (UK), where the proprietor, Nicola, is willing, with a bit of notice, to sell me loose beans and pulses that I can take away in my own containers. The stall is bigger than you first think. I was fully expecting The Doctor to step out from behind the various stacks of herbs and spices and maybe even a dalek or two lurking among the grains and flours.
“Winning the eco battle, one tiny step at a time”
- Handful of dried butter beans
- Handful of dried cannellini beans
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, chopped
- 1 tblsp olive oil
- 2-3 dried figs, chopped (optional)
- 1 small dried chilli, crushed
- 2 cans of chopped tomatoes
- 1 large potato, diced
- 1 tblsp fresh thyme
- 1/2 can of red kidney beans, drained
- 1/2 can of chickpeas
- 1 cup of broadbeans
- 1 wedge of lemon (about a quarter)
- 12 olives, roughly chopped
- 1 portion of homemade ratatouille
Soak the cannellini and butter beans overnight
Rinse the soaked beans and cook for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, gently fry the onions and garlic. When opaque, add the chilli and figs and stir for 1-2 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, thyme and potatoes, cook for 5 minutes. Add everything else, reserving some of the juice from the cooked beans. Cook together for a 15-20 minutes. If the stew is too thick, add a little of the reserved juice.
Serve with chunks of fresh bread or bread roll
As with any stew-like foods, this tastes infinitely better a day or two later.