Monday, June 16, 2014
A FAMILY FAVORITE: MEDITERRANEAN-STYLE BEAN STEW WITH RAPINI & VEGAN SAUSAGE
I made this the night before last for a quick, hearty supper. We had it for lunch the next day, enjoying it just as much, and tomorrow I'll bring the last bit for a work lunch. You really can't find a tastier, heartier, easier, everyday dish. It's also high in fiber and nutrients, low in fat and calories, and quite inexpensive (particularly if you use home-cooked beans), especially factoring in how many meals a couple can expect in return!
One of the things I love about this dish is the rapini (also known as broccoli rabe or raab). It's what is considered a "bitter green", but that "bitter" edge to the flavor is a great foil for the mellow beans, sweet carrots and flavorful vegan sausage.
|Rapini or broccoli rabe/raab|
Here's some background about rapini from http://whatscookingamerica.net/Vegetables/BroccoliRaab.htm :"Although it has broccoli's name, broccoli raab is not related to broccoli. It is, however, closely related to turnips which is probably why the leaves look like turnip greens. Lots of broccoli-like buds appear here and there but a head never forms. It is grown as much for its long-standing, tasty mustard-like tops as for their multiple small florets with clusters of broccoli-like buds. Good-quality broccoli raab will have bright-green leaves that are crisp, upright, and not wilted. Avoid ones with leaves that are wilted, yellowing, or have dark green patches of slime.
Used extensively in Italian and Chinese cooking, it is not as popular in the United States but is gaining popularity. The stems are generally uniform in size (hence cook evenly) and need not be peeled. Clean it as you would other greens, removing the bottom portion of the stems which appear tough (sometimes the stems are tougher than other times depending on the age of the rapini). They stems can be removed up to where the leaves begin, and sautéed before adding the leaves to the pan. This vegetable is a source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as potassium. Rapini is available all year long, but its peak season is from fall to spring. To maintain crispness, refrigerate, unwashed, loosely wrapped in a plastic bag or wrap for up to 3 days." NOTE: I try to use rapini right away-- it doesn't keep well. If you can't use it within 2-3 days of purchase, blanch it briefly in boiling water, drain well and freeze it.
If you've never tried rapini before (and it is available in all of the supermarkets in our area, which is NOT a metropolis!), this would be an excellent way to try it for the first time. I hope you enjoy this dish as much as we do.
BRYANNA’S MEDITERRANEAN-STYLE BEAN STEW WITH RAPINI AND VEGAN SAUSAGE
If you really don't like or can't find rapini, you can substitute similar green veg, such as mustard greens and/or turnip greens, or , for milder flavor, kale or chard or even Chinese broccoli (gai lan).
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large carrots, scrubbed and cut into small dice
2 stalks celery (with leaves), chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/4 teaspoon chili flakes (Optional)
4 cups (or 2/ 19 oz. cans) cooked white kidney, Great Northern or cannellini beans, OR pinto or Romano beans, rinsed and drained
1 lb. (1 bunch) rapini (broccoli rabe), washed, drained and thinly-sliced (See this page if you are unfamiliar with this vegetable.)
Heat the oil in a large skillet or stir-fry pan. When hot, add the onion and sauté over medium-high heat until the onion softens and starts to brown. Add the celery, carrots and garlic and sauté for a few more minutes, adding a squirt of water or dry white wine as needed to keep the mixture from sticking. Add the oregano and chilli flakes, the drained beans and broth, and the sausage “coins”. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes, UN-covered.
Add the sliced rapini, stirring until it starts to wilt. Cover and cook for about 10 more minutes, or until the rapini is cooked to your taste. Taste for salt and pepper.
Serve with crusty bread or toast. Leftovers are a bonus!
Nutrition (per serving): 338.5 calories; 25% calories from fat; 9.8g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 486.3mg sodium; 915.9mg potassium; 43.2g carbohydrates; 16.7g fiber; 5.2g sugar; 26.6g net carbs; 22.9g protein.