Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Recipe: White Beans, Tomatoes and Aromatic Vegetables

Cooks often use aromatic vegetables and herbs to enhance the flavor of stocks, soups or stews. Typically, the vegetables include onions, carrots and celery (and their relatives, such as leeks), while the herbs are those with distinctive aromas, such as thyme, rosemary or lemongrass.

This vegan dish starts with an aromatic-veggie base, then adds peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes and spinach along with cannellini beans. I spooned it over polenta disks sauteed in a little olive oil, but it would be just as tasty tossed with multigrain pasta (such as penne or farfalle) or piled on a mound of rice.

White beans, tomatoes and aromatic vegetables
Serves 4

2 ½ cups diced or chopped aromatic vegetables*
½ cup chopped red pepper
3 T canola or olive oil
1 8-ounce package sliced mushrooms
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, with juices
1 18-ounce can cannellini or other white beans, rinsed and drained
2 T chopped fresh thyme leaves (or 1 tsp dried thyme)
2 cups chopped fresh spinach
Salt and pepper to taste
Dash of cayenne pepper or ground chipotle chili (optional)
¼ cup lightly chopped fresh basil leaves (optional)

* Any combination of onions, leeks, shallots, garlic, carrots and/or celery

Heat oil over medium heat in a large frying pan; add aromatic vegetables and red pepper; cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes.
Add mushrooms and 2-3 T of water, cover and cook 5 minutes. Uncover, stir, cover again and cook for 5 more minutes.
Add beans, tomatoes and thyme, stir well and cook until heated through.
Add spinach and seasonings, stir until spinach is wilted.
Serve over pasta, brown rice or polenta.

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