White Bean and Kale Stew

When its cold outside there is nothing I love more than a big bowl of chili or stew or soup. Something that warms me from the inside out, and sticks to my ribs, causing me to lean back in my chair and rub my belly with satisfaction.

Sadly (or awesomely) it was in the 80’s here in Southern California on New Year’s Day and just cooled down again. Winter in California is SO not like my winters in Brooklyn.  Not that I am complaining, because I do not miss the feeling of my contact lenses freezing in my eyes from the cold weather! Or my nose being so cold I could not tell if it was running or not. Yeah, good times, good times. . .

Now that is a little cooler here, I made a rib sticking, hearty vegetable stew with white beans and one of my favorite vegetables, Tuscan kale. To really give it some smoky flavor I used the skin from my homemade baconIf you want to make it vegetarian or vegan, do not use any bacon or smoked meats, and use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. It will still be fantastic, just without the smoky layer.

I love the flavor of Tuscan kale, also known as black kale, dinosaur kale and lacinato kale. You can easily use other types of kale, or even fresh spinach, collard or mustard greens.

I make sure to coat the beans in the flavored oil before adding the broth, to insure that the flavors soak into the beans as they cook.

Once you add the broth and water you can walk away, returning for an occasional stir and to make sure there is enough liquid in the pot.  Depending on how old your beans are, they may suck up more liquid than you expect, so add more water if needed.

 

When the beans are almost done, stir in the chopped kale. Cook until the kale is as tender as you like it. Some people like raw kale, but I am not among them! I like it to be nice and tender, but not mushy and squishy.

 

Enjoy it with some crusty bread to soak up all that good juice! I also recommend a nice bottle of pinot grigio.

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White Bean and Kale Stew
This hearty one pot meal is filled with savory white beans and healthy Tuscan kale, a meal packed with not only flavor, but nutrients.
Ingredients
  • 4 ounces bacon skin (or substitute with a smoked ham hock or turkey wing)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 cups small white beans, soaked
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large spring fresh rosemary
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 bunch Tuscan kale, roughly chopped
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
Instructions
In a large pot over low heat, cook the onion and bacon skin in the olive oil, until the onions are softened.
Add the garlic to the pot, cook an additional 2 minutes, until just fragrant.
Add the beans and stir to coat them well with the onion and garlic mixture.
Add the herbs, broth and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook the beans for 1 – 1 1/2 hours, until the beans are almost tender.
Stir in the kale and continue to simmer the beans until the kale is wilted and tender, about 10 minutes. Season the stew with the salt, adjusting as needed for the saltiness of the bacon or smoked meat. Serve the stew with crusty bread to soak up the juices.
Details

Prep time: 10 mins Cook time: 2 hour Total time: 2 hour 10 mins Yield: 6 cups

Cheryl D Lee on Foodista

Organic Spring Salad and A Giveaway

Spring is here. The flowers are blooming, the squirrels are chasing each other around, and I am sneezing like crazy! Spring is indeed here.

Now that the bout of stomach flu my dear daughter brought home from her preschool has made it through the household, I can get back to developing recipes and cooking. Although I will admit that having that flu sure helped me when I weighed in at my Weight Watchers meeting! Hey, I’ll take a weight loss however I get it!

I recently had the opportunity to try a new vinegar, and it blew me away. It is a chile spiked, lemon and orange peel infused, honey kissed burst of flavor! (how’s that for hyperbole?) Fire Roasted Chili Honey Vinegar is from Honey Ridge Farms, a family owned company that produces a variety of honey products. When I try something for the first time I like to taste it by itself, with no distractions. I poured a teaspoon full and sipped. Wow! Slightly sweet, quickly followed by a mouth puckering sourness, and then heat. Not too much heat, but enough to know this was chili spiked vinegar.

Fresh, ripe tomatoes immediately sprang to mind. This was a vinegar that only needed to be splashed on an ingredient to bring out its best. I don’t usually like tomatoes until they are in season locally, but Trader Joe’s had these beautiful Kumato brown tomatoes from Mexico. Yes I know, carbon footprint. . . Anyway, I brought them home to try.

I was thinking of a simple salad of tomatoes, maybe with a few herbs. I called my friend Holland to see if I could drop by her wonderful organic backyard garden, and grab some Italian parsley. Once there, I saw she had a riot of colorful lettuces and herbs. I couldn’t just take parsley, because she actually wouldn’t let me leave without taking more! So I loaded up on romaine lettuce, green leaf and red leaf lettuce, arugula, shiso and of course parsley. Forget simple tomato salad, now I REALLY had a salad!

This vinegar will taste good on any kind of greens. In fact, next time I make collard greens, I will splash this vinegar on while I eat some. I usually like the juice from a jar of pickled peppers, but this would work just as well if not better to give the greens a nice tart, peppery boost.

I dressed the salad with a simple mixture of the vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. I used 1/3 cup of vinegar to 2 tablespoons of olive oil, but adjust it to your taste. Give it a quick whisk and pour. You do not need either salt or pepper, as the vinegar is already so full of flavor anything else wouldn’t even be noticed.

Now for the GIVEAWAY! If you would like to try this vinegar I will giving away a few bottles! Just leave me a comment stating what you would do the vinegar, or a favorite dish you like with vinegar. I will choose the winners using Random.org!

Cheryl D Lee on Foodista