Braised White Beans and Leeks
Who invited winter?
I thought Toronto had been spared a white Christmas, as we were pummeled with rain instead of snow late last week. However, I woke up yesterday to howling winds, frigid temperatures and snow. Ottawa may have received 30 cm of the fluffy stuff over the past few days, but in true Toronto fashion, we had a sprinkle of snow.
This is indeed, the perfect solution. Rob and I are pining to go snowshoeing while in Ottawa for the holidays but that requires snow. Ottawa will have it and we can return to the lack of snowblower land without too much worrying. It just means we can’t snowshoe to work. I am ok with that. Rob may be sad. Over the last few weeks, Rob has occasionally walked to work. That takes him 2.5 hours. It would likely take him longer with snow shoes.
Last weekend was Woodstock in Christmas, and this is what I brought. Another benefit of cooking en masse on the weekend (other than not having to cook mid-week), is that I could pick my favourite dish to share.
Beans from scratch has become second nature. I typically simmer them on the stovetop while doing something else in the kitchen. This time, I brought back low-and-slow oven braised beans. Nothing could be so easy to get perfectly plump beans. Using Rancho Gordo’s plump, tiny Yellow Indian Beans beans definitely helped but the long simmer in the oven slowly cooks the beans to perfection. No exploding beans, nothing too mushy, just perfectly cooked beans. Three hours later, you have a house fragrant from the leeks and herbs and a pot of plump beans. Sara’s original recipe suggested broiling cheese overtop at the end of the braise but I went without for a vegan option. I had considered sprinkling almond parmesan overtop but ran out of time. The beans are definitely more than a sum of its parts. The leeks cook down to a silky creaminess and the Italian herbs confer a fragrant background.
Due to the sheer simplicity of this dish, it was easy to whip together other meals for the week. While my curries also turned out great, I didn’t think they would mesh as well with a traditional Christmas menu. I’ll share those, too, likely in the new year.
Although, turns out dal will be making an appearance at the Ottawa Christmas. My Mom has left me in charge of Christmas lunch and I’ll be making Root Veggie Dal. A perfect bowl to curl up with after returning from a snowy snowshoe adventure.
Happy holidays, everyone!
Braised White Beans and Leeks
Adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen
1 cup dried white beans (I used Yellow Indian Woman beans), soaked at least 4 hours (especially if not using Rancho Gordo beans)
1 large leek, sliced longitudinally and chopped thin cross-wise
2 tsp coconut oil
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1.25 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp basil
1/4 tsp sage
1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper flakes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1/4 cup water
1. Drain soaked beans, rinse and set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 225F and place a rack in the lower third of your oven.
3. In a large ovenproof pot or frypan over medium heat, heat the oil. One hot, add the leeks and garlic. Saute until the the leeks have softened, around 5 minutes.
4. Stir in the beans, herbs, chile flakes, vegetables broth and 1/4 cup water. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring the mixture back up to a gentle boil. Cover the pot with an ovenproof lid or cover tightly with foil. Place in the oven and cook until the beans are soft throughout but not falling apart, 3 to 3 1/2 hours. Check occasionally to see if the beans have become dry. If the pot seems dry, add water in 1/2 cup increments and stir once or twice. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper if necessary.
Serves 4, more as a side.