Matthew: I might have picked the worst spring day to make a stew. It was in the low 80’s and humid today and I spent the late afternoon boiling beans on the stove. It was worth it though!
Back in October, I read an article in the NY Times that talked about using dried beans without soaking them. This appealed to me since I don’t like to have to plan ahead for dinner. The article included this recipe for herbed white bean and sausage stew. I finally got around to making it and it turned out fantastic. I followed the recipe closely, only substituting some locally-made bratwurst for the sausage. The resulting stew reminded me of a cassoulet I had recently at Sardine in Madison. The slow cooked beans absorb the flavors from the herbs, seasonings, and meat, making a smooth and decadent dish. And, it made about 10 pounds of stew, so I will get to enjoy this all week!
Katie: While I was home sick last week and didn’t have enough energy to move from the couch, I wasn’t feeling too great, but I was at least able to catch up on looking for some new recipes to try. One that caught my eye was this recipe for Greek Baked Beans from Closet Cooking. It looked really good, and I had never tried cooking with dried beans before, so I added it to my list of recipe ideas.
Once I was feeling better again, I decided to give Greek baked beans a try, using this recipe for Baked Gigantes in Tomato Sauce from Cooking Light. First, I soaked the beans overnight, and then cooked them the next day in water. I then prepared the tomato sauce, which was really flavorful and included carrots, onions, celery, a few different herbs, and honey. It smelled really good! Then, I mixed the beans and sauce together and baked them in the oven. I had read a few comments warning not to overcook beans or they would fall apart, so I tried not to cook them too long. Unfortunately, I think I overreacted, since the beans could have been softer. The sauce was very delicious, so I would still recommend this recipe, but with the tip of making sure that the beans are soft enough before combining them with the sauce. I served the beans with Italian bread.
To go along with the beans and bread, I decided to make chicken. I remembered hearing Mom talking about a good recipe for stuffed chicken, and I think it may have been the same one that I decided to make. This recipe for Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomatoes from Cooking Light was surprisingly simple to prepare and definitely lived up to the rave reviews. Even though it wasn’t perfect, this was still a very tasty meal!
Posted in Appetizers, Dinner
Tagged balsamic vinegar, basil, beans, carrots, celery, chicken, Greek, onions, shallots, sun-dried tomatoes, tomatoes
Katie: On Friday evening after a stressful week, I wanted a quick meal that wouldn’t take too long to prepare. This recipe for Tuscan Tuna and Bean Sandwiches from Gourmet was just what I was looking for. The recipe is a retake on a classic sandwich filling, healthier and more flavorful. It includes a bean mixture, similar to humus, skipping tahini and adding fresh herbs, and a tuna mixture, that uses olive oil instead of mayonnaise to bind everything together. I made a few changes to the original recipe, including replacing some of the olive oil with plain yogurt, which worked well. Fresh basil and lemon add a lot of flavor. I served the tuna and bean mixtures with whole wheat pitas. They were really good! I would definitely make these again. Here’s the recipe with the changes I made:
Tuscan Tuna and Bean Pitas (Adapted from Gourmet)
- 1 (14- to 15-oz) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (other beans would probably also work well)
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
For tuna salad
- 2 (6-oz) cans tuna, drained
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
- 1/4 cup pitted Kalamata or other brine-cured black olives, finely chopped
- 1 celery rib, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Prepare beans: Coarsely mash beans with a fork in a bowl, then stir in garlic, lemon juice, oil, basil, salt, and pepper.
Make tuna: Flake tuna in a bowl with a fork, then stir in basil, olives, celery, onion, oil, yogurt, lemon juice, salt, and pepper until combined.
Assemble pitas: Cut pitas open and toast. Spoon one fourth of bean mixture into each pita, then top with one fourth of tuna salad. Add sliced tomatoes, greens, or other fresh vegetables, if desired. Enjoy!
I served the leftovers with Rosemary Rutabaga Fries (roasted in the oven and seasoned with garlic, fresh rosemary, and sea salt).
Matthew: This is one of my all-time favorite soups, mostly because I really love rosemary. I use this recipe from Ina Garten with a few adjustments. I only use one large onion and probably about 1/8 cup olive oil. Also, instead of putting in sprig of rosemary, I chop it up finely and put it in. I probably use 4-5 sprigs total. This time around, I used dried beans, like the recipe calls for, but I’ve also made it with canned beans. I was excited to make this soup, because I wanted to get some use out of my new immersion blender. It worked great and didn’t make a mess at all! It’s much better than using a regular blender. The soup turned out great and went perfectly with some crusty bread. I froze several containers of it (pictured above) so I could pull them out of the freezer for a quick dinner.
Matthew: With lots of different vegetables arriving every week in my CSA box, I often make dinner and throw in anything that needs to be used up before it goes bad. This has led to some really good and interesting dishes and also some really not-so-great meals. This week, I had swiss chard and spring onions to use up. I also wanted to use up my stock of frozen pesto from last summer, so I decided to make a pasta dish that incorporated everything. I began by sautéing the chard (with the lid on so that the leaves wilt) and onions. At the same time, I cooked the pasta. After a few minutes, I added the pesto and a can of cannellini beans to the chard. Once the pasta was done, I added it to the vegetables and beans and let it combine for a few minutes. I was very pleased with the outcome. This was definitely one of the better improvised dishes I have made in a while!
Katie: I wanted to take advantage of the abundance of zucchinis in season, but I knew I would have to make something attractive enough to convince Flori to eat them too. I decided to make zucchini quesadillas, based on this recipe and this recipe. Here’s how I made them:
- 1 Tbsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- 1-2 large garlic cloves
- Zucchini – I used 3 small ones
- Salt and Pepper
- Shredded Cheese
- Kidney Beans
Heat olive oil in a non-stick skillet and sauté the zucchini and garlic with the chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper.
Remove the zucchini from the pan and clean it. Add a tortilla and top it with cheese, zucchini and beans, and top it with a second tortilla. Cook it until the cheese begins to melt. Flip it and continue cooking until the tortillas are light brown and crispy.
I served the quesadillas with Roasted Corn and Garlic Salsa, Refried Beans, and plain yogurt. They were really good! The salsa was little too garlicy, so next time I would use less. I made 2 quesadillas and used the rest of the fillings to make burritos.
Katie: I decided to try making refried beans to go along with the enchiladas I made. They don’t look very pretty, but they were easy to make and tasted good. Here’s how I made them:
Refried Beans (adapted from Closet Cooking)
1/2 tsp. olive oil
1 small onion (chopped)
1 clove garlic (chopped)
1 (19 ounce) can kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1. Heat the oil in a pan.
2. Add the onion and garlic and saute until tender, about 3-5 minutes.
3. Add the beans, chili powder and cumin and cook until warm.
4. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and blend with a hand mixer. Add warm water by the tablespoon until you get them to the consistency that you want.