Sunday, October 4, 2009

Hearty White Beans and Leek Stew

I took a few days off from work since last Friday and took advantage to go to Ottawa's Farmer's market. We wanted to get away from the hustling and bustling of Montreal's cosmopolitan atmosphere and decided to get up really early, 6am (real early for a day off and for a non-morning person at all) to make sure to get the best of the goodies from Ottawa's local farmers. It was a little bit cold, but we pretty much got what we needed. Our main purchase was at least 4 kilos of leeks.

Leek is one of my favourite types of "onion" at this time of year, when it's cold and nippy. They're the perfect ingredient to add to soups, stews, popular dishes like lasagnas or even quiches.

This weekend, I made a dish that is a favourite in Haitian families, a well seasoned stew made of white beans and leek. It's creamy, tasty and so satisfying to the palate. In Quebec, we have the yearly Cabane à Sucre that usually starts at the peek of Spring. Although I've grown less fond of eating at the Cabane à Sucre (sugar shack), only because I had gone so many times when I was younger, my favourite part of the meal was the traditional cooked beans in maple syrup. It's just so tasty and delicious. Now, I like cooking my own beans because I'm more conscious of my health and know that beans are an excellent source of iron, potassium, selenium, molybdenum, thiamine, vitamin B6, and folic acid.

The last 5-7 years, I have met many different interesting people who have different eating habits, as a result of health issues or purely personal preferences. It seemed to me that over the years, many of my friends or even new acquaintances have developped intolerances to different types of foods or have made personal choices to not eat certain foods. Some have become vegetarian, or more seriously vegans, and some have developped an intolerance to gluten, dairy products, nuts, or seafood. Even though I love receiving and cooking for friends and family, I find it's become somewhat challenging to cook for guests. My solution to have a stress-free dinner reception is to simply suggests my guests, in advance, what I plan to offer them for dinner and ask them to let me know which foods or ingredients I should avoid adding on the menu. This is when the real test kicks in to become more creative when cooking delicious meals without taking away the enjoyment of eating a good meal. But of course, I also know many people, including my direct family, who will eat just about anything. They're not picky eaters and are ready to try just about everything. Although I don't like to categorize, but I do have to say this to Lisa, Daph, Stefan, Lorraine, Louis, Marsela and Artan...I think you know where you fit in.....Thank goodness you guys are around...

In fact, knowing people with different taste palates or with certain preferences, has allowed me to learn more about food that I never knew existed or to know more about their flaws and qualities. This bean recipe can be eaten as a main course or a side dish to a meat or fish dish. Either way, I'm sure you'll find it gratifying. It even tastes better after a couple of days when the seasonings have had the time to soak well into the sauce.

Preparation time : 20 minutes, Cooking time : 1 hour with pressure cooker, or 2 hours in large sauce pan (after beans soaked overnight)

Recipe "au pif" :1 1/2 cup uncooked white beans
7 cups hot water
3 cups leeks (roots and green leaves removed), chopped in cubes
1 large yellow onion, chopped in cubes
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme (optional) - ends snipped off twigs, or fresh tarragon finely chopped.
1 tsp fresh ground paprika
1 tsp chili flakes
1 1/2 tbsp vegetable or chicken stock concentrate - or 1 cube vegetable or chicken broth.
1 tbsp olive oil

In a pressure-cooker, add in the hot water and the uncooked beans. Close and pressure-cook on medium heat for about 1 hour.

* if using a regular large sauce pan, beans must be soaked in warm water overnight to soften. Use 3 cups of hot water to cook them for about 2 hours. *

Beans are cooked when they've reached an off-white colour, have softened and water has thickened Add in the chicken stock. Turn off heat but put lid back on.

In the meantime, toast the mustard seeds in a large frying pan on medium-high heat for about 2 minutes. Then add in the oil and heat for another minute.

Stir in the onions, let them brown for about 1 minute. Then stir in the garlic and mix. Finally add in the chopped leeks and stir until almost golden brown on the edges.

Stir in the leek/onion/garlic mixture in the pressure cooker with the cooked beans. Add in the chili flakes and the fresh thyme (optional), or preferrably fresh tarragon. Give it a good stir and cover to slow cook for about 10 minutes.

Serve as a healthy side dish to roasted eggplants or roasted poultry.

Serves 4-6 people

Share and enjoy!

1 comment:

CinnamonQuill said...

This sounds perfect! Bookmarking it for the next time I buy leeks.