Monday, March 22, 2010
Spring Stew Deconstructed
This weekend we went to Marine World near San Francisco. My five year old daredevil wanted to test her theory that she was tall enough to ride roller coasters. She was tall enough for some, and she took full advantage. She is really fearless that way. Good thing she had her dad with her for all the whirly rides; I cannot take spinning! Those kinds of trips always put things into perspective for me. For me, it is a glimpse into how the rest of this country eats and how disconnected I am from that. I noticed this walking past the snack carts and the dilemma we faced trying to eat lunch. I appreciate my reality checks. I appreciate how we are able to bring locally grown food into our home. I value the time I am afforded to cook meals that nourish my family. I am very lucky indeed.
To celebrate this, I made a meatless spring "stew" that went over really well at the dinner table. Still needing a bit of hearty to counter cool nights, but ready for a bit of spring, I wondered if deconstructing a heavier dish would work to lighten it a bit. At dinnertime, little M walked up to the table, stared at this dish for a good half minute and announced "I will not be having dinner tonight." What she did not know, was that dish she was scoffing at had food she normally really loves. I wondered if my experiment had gone terribly wrong! D and I started eating and knew immediately it was a winner. The deconstructed flavors intensified the dish. The olive oil pulled it all together. M sat and watched us for a while and decided to take a bite. She liked it. "I like the bean juice" were her exact words. Ok, I'll take it. Darn! My harsh critic is a pint sized flavor queen. Love it!
1 cup dried small white navy beans
1 large bay leaf
1 1/2 cups water or stock
In pressure cooker or pot cover beans with water making sure water or stock is at least 1 inch over top of beans. Cook for 45 min by pressure cooker or 90 min. by regular cooking. After beans are cooked, scoop extra cooking water out of the pots. You are looking for slightly juicy looking beans. Take a potato masher or a fork and mash half of the beans. This will allow the extra cooking water to be absorbed by the bean starch and not be runny in your serving dish.
1 cup thinly sliced leeks
1 tlbs. olive oil
In a heavy bottomed pan (I used a cast iron skillet) heat olive oil and sautee leeks on med-high heat until starting to brown; about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool
Sun Dried Tomatoes
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes
1 cup water
In a sauce pan, warm tomatoes and water until simmering. Turn off heat, cover and let stand for 15 minutes. Remove from water, drain, and chop finely. Set aside
3 small-medium beets
3 medium carrots
1 tlbs olive oil
Steam both carrots and beets in a pot with a steamer basket. Make sure to check on the water level, adding more as needed so the bottom of the pot does not burn. I steamed mine for about 20-25 minutes. Check for doneness by piercing with a sharp knife. Vegetables should be very soft. Remove from steamer basket and toss with olive oil and a pinch of salt.
To plate dishes, scoop about 1/2 cup of beans into a plate or bowl. Add 1/4 of vegetables mixture, tomatoes and leeks last. Drizzle a small spoonful of olive oil at the end.