janet @ the taste space

Mediterranean Beans atop Lemony Arugula

In Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) on May 7, 2013 at 6:41 AM

Mediterranean Beans atop Lemony Arugula

Comfort means different things to different people. A warm hug, a friendly email, a cheery phone call.. or wallowing with an ice cream sundae and warm apple pie. I try not to do the emotional eating thing but sometimes a big salad just won’t cut it. But can chocolate really overcome the worst blues? No.

I know some of you think I am nuts… some holier-than-thou soul who can shun the desserts and treats. Well, let me assure you that I am not immune. Trust me, there are enough vegan desserts that can keep me entertained and gluttonous. But sometimes, you just need something more.

A great way not to get suckered into buying treats is not to shop at standard grocers. This also means it can be more difficult for me to indulge if I want.

After writing the first part of my exam, I planned to do grocery shopping. It all made sense: I had neglected all foodly things earlier that week and it was time to restock. My exam also happened to be close to my favourite ethnic grocer. Score!  I had no list, no recipes, no agenda – time was spent on studying pathology, not recipes. However, after that exam, all I wanted was comfort. I wanted to wallow in some chocolate.

My favourite grocer is filled with all sorts of fun, cheap produce: grapefruits, many different kinds of mangoes, baby bok choy, Asian mushrooms, cheap fresh herbs. I wanted to splurge. I wanted something decadent. Chocolate, anything remotely vegan and dessert-like. Um, yeah, no. Nothing here at all. The nuts didn’t appeal to me… and my splurge? Two pounds of baby arugula for $4. Two pounds doesn’t seem like a lot but it was two big clamshells worth of arugula. Was it a splurge? Yes, because I did not think I could eat that much arugula and I thought to myself: I should not be buying this. But it was no decadent splurge.

So, on my way home, I stopped by my favourite resto in Toronto, Belmonte Raw. In spite of improving their hours, because they are on the other side of town, I have not been in a long time. So this was my treat. I had no appetite, but I was salivating just wondering what their specials would be for the day. I needed some comfort. I ended up ordering a comforting smoothie and a raw burrito. I have raved about their raw burrito before, but this one left me flat. This version was only half of a burrito with a side salad. The smoothie was also lacklustre. I wanted more!! I decided that my taste buds could not be comforted at this point. They were beyond repair. My appetite could not be perked up and trying her sinful chocolate thimbles would likely not help the cause.

So I moseyed home. With my 2 pounds of arugula. But no interest in cooking or eating (let alone photographing and blogging). A good night’s sleep and an empty fridge partially motivated me to try something more than oatmeal in the following days.  Cooking, instead of studying, seemed like a better idea to me, too. Dal bhat or creamy broccoli dal would have been a delicious comfort meal but now I had that arugula to eat.

I quickly realized that if I wanted to eat through the arugula, it would have to be cooked. Thus lemony arugula nests were born. This actually turned out much better than I anticipated. Considering nothing seemed to taste good to me, and I really liked this, that says a lot! It was also fun because it was a very simple recipe.

I used JL’s recipe as a guide. She simmered Italian-spiced tomatoes with olives and beans. I simmered tomatoes and white beans and added in a bunch of herbs that seemed Italian: marjoram, fennel seed and lemon pepper. It worked! The tomatoes were light and fresh with flavour, and I only simmered it for 10 minutes as I tended to the arugula. For the arugula, I misread the directions and lightly steamed it with some broth and garlic, and then doused it in lemon juice. Contrasting the two components was good. Lots of greens. Lots of beans. And I really don’t think the photos do it justice because I think it was even prettier in person… and surprisingly enough, leftovers were good, too.

What is your comfort food? Surprised mine includes beans? Shocked chocolate couldn’t suffice? I think having a delicious bowl of good food definitely helps…

Mediterranean Beans atop Lemony Arugula

This is my submissionto this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Simona, to this month’s  Simple and In Season, and to this month‘s Herbs on Saturday.

Mediterranean Beans atop Lemony Arugula
Adapted from JL Goes Vegan

1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice
1.5 cups cooked white beans, rinsed and drained (I used Yellow Eye Beans)
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1/2 tsp lemon pepper
1/4 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
herbamere, or salt, to taste
1/4 cup bean broth/vegetable broth (may be omitted if you add lemon juice)
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
8 cups arugula, loosely packed (5 ounces)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (juice from 1 lemon)

1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, place tomatoes (with juices), beans, marjoram, lemon pepper and fennels seeds. Cover and bring to a boil. reduce heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until your arugula is ready. Season to taste.

2. Meanwhile, in a large non-stick wok over medium-high heat, heat 1-2 tbsp of broth. Add garlic and saute until brown. Add arugula, along with remainder of the broth. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 3-5 minutes until the arugula has wilted and is a brilliant green. Stir in the lemon juice.

3. Plate arugula on each plate and top with beans.

Serves 2-3.

  1. Janet, this looks amazing! I crave beans and greens all the time (especially white beans – I love the creaminess). Also, just wanted to let you know that you are a huge inspiration – I don’t know how you do all the things you do, but I’m very thankful that you somehow find time to write this blog 🙂

  2. I do that same thing with the specialty stores – I went straight to the farmer’s market after my competition. I would bet the workers there don’t even know what a Pop-Tart is. My fridge is stocked with veggies! 🙂

    Oddly, I was really craving beans while I was dieting down. This looks fantastci – I may try something like it for lunch!

  3. This looks wonderful. I can think of so many ways to eat these beans, too, if arugula isn’t around. Yum!!

  4. The pictures are very pretty though it does look like a lot of arugula but I think beans are great comfort food and a lot more satisfying than chocolate – chocolate is great but it can be so addictive (says she who has just opened a jar of chocolate spread I have had for ages)

  5. Nice additions to my recipe! I’m kind of wanting that for breakfast now 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  6. You had me a lemon pepper… To me comfort food is food that doesn’t make me feel bad for eating it! I know it sounds weird but if I’m having a bad day eating bad food makes it worse. But give me a sweet treat on a great sunny afternoon and I’m in heaven!

  7. Very nice veggie dish!

  8. I’ve definitely had those moments where I just crave something “bad”…but nothing seems to satisfy! I’ll have to try arugula next time. 😛

  9. Hugs. Hugs are what I need and miss in moments of sadface. I’m glad you found a way for arugula to bring joy to your life. Though your post is messing with my sense of the space/time continuum. I know you’re doing exams now, and yet you told me the arugula story weeks ago… YOU’RE DR WHO.

  10. I am…all over this. And I can’t wait to move to TO…only about three more months! Then I can (slowly) try all these restaurants people rave about – though too bad your most recent experience at Belmonte was disappointing. And seriously, I am drooling over that lemony arugula, sounds like the perfect light compliment to the beans.

    • I still highly recommend Belmonte Raw. It was probably all my fault it didn’t taste good.. I don’t think anything would have tasted good at that point.

      I think you will really enjoy Toronto. There is so much to do here. I will be sad to leave but hope to be back soon. 🙂

  11. Beans and greens are absolutely some of the best comfort food! I don’t think I’ve ever had cooked arugula, so now I’m super excited to try it. 🙂

  12. What a beautiful colourful plate of food. I love the story of your quest for food to indulge in! I see nothing wrong with beans being a comfort food…they are simple, hearty, soft and delicious. Sounds like comfort to me… Also, studying pathology – WOW! That must be so interesting and also tough! Thanks for entering Herbs on Saturday, I really enjoyed reading your post. x

  13. Just one more thing. As I am hosting this months Herbs on Saturday. Please could you include a link to my site aswell as Lavender & Lovage please. Many thanks

  14. I love simple, flavorful meals like this! I’m on it!

  15. I used to always keep a tupperware of cooked garlicky greens in the fridge for when I came home from the bar or was otherwise looking to snack. I think if such foods were as easily available as potato chips or other processed snacks, our bodies would be telling us to crave them instead!

  16. […] around the time of my food funk and arugula excess, I was propelled to the kitchen with the promise of beautiful food. Gena shared […]

  17. Big hugs my dear!! I know the feeling of needing comfort and I have admit sometimes I definitely look to food for that, although I am getting better! My trick these days- frozen grapes! They taste like dessert but are still a little healthy!

    Bean dishes like this are totally comfort food for me too and I love that you combined them with bright tasting arugula 🙂

  18. I was wondering the other day what would happen if I cooked arugula and now I have the answer. Thank you so much for your contribution to WHB!

  19. Arugula is one of my favourite greens! I love the idea of it all lemony as a bed for Mediterranean style beans. And I’m with you. I do love chocolate but if I’m feeling down, one of my favourite things to have is fuhl and flatbread. There’s something about beans that is so comforting, isn’t there?

  20. […] First to cross the line was The Taste Space with these Mediterranean Beans atop Lemony Arugula – absolutely perfect for this time of year and a really simple, yet flavorful recipe –  thank […]

  21. […] difficult to connect with the recipes. Some were appealing. I have previously shared Fields’ Mediterranean Beans with Greens and I enjoyed some of her dressings. Next time, I recommend a more focused theme for recipes along […]

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