Friday, October 9, 2009

White Bean, Artichoke, and Chard Ragout with Fennel Relish

It's slow cooker time again! I am discovering that these devices are a great way to cook for a dinner party. This ragout (a French stew) is a delicious one to try out on guests.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 3 cups thinly sliced leek, 1 cup (1/2-inch thick) slices of carrot, and 3 minced garlic cloves; cover and cook for 5 minutes. Don't forget to wash the leek in a colander after you've sliced it, to make sure you get the dirt from between all the layers!

Place the leek mixture in a 5- to 6-quart electric slow cooker, along with: 3 cups cooked white beans (either cannellini or Great Northern beans work well here; I chose the latter), 2 and 1/2 cups chopped fennel bulb, 2 cups cubed red potatoes (the cubes should be about 1/2 an inch big, although I confess mine were a little larger), 1 cup chopped red bell pepper, 3/4 cup water, 1 teaspoon dried basil, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. dried oregano, 1/4 tsp. black pepper, 1 (14-ounce) drained can of tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano, 1 (14-ounce) can of vegetable broth, and 1 (9-ounce) package of frozen artichoke hearts, (thawed in advance).

As with the Vegetable and Chickpea Curry I made last night, you can very quickly get your 'cooked' white beans from a can, but I chose to further experiment with my slow cooker. After letting the beans soak for 8 hours, I combined them with 6 cups water in the slow cooker and cooked on HIGH; they only need about 4 hours, compared to the chickpeas, which needed 9.

Put on the slow cooker's lid and cook the ragout on HIGH for 8 hours - again, read your manufacturer's instructions, as cooking times can vary.

Just before serving, stir in 2 cups chopped Swiss chard and stir until the chard wilts.

For the relish topping: make it at least 30 minutes ahead of time, but you can also make it earlier in the day and refrigerate until time to serve. To prepare it:

Pour 1 cup boiling water over 6 sun-dried tomatoes (packed without oil); let stand for 15 minutes, then drain and chop.

Combine the sun-dried tomato pieces with 3 cups shredded fennel bulb, 1 cup diced yellow bell pepper, 1/4 cup chopped parsley, 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice, 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1/2 tsp. raw sugar, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. black pepper.

To shred the fennel, I used the large holes of a grater - I needed two bulbs, so make sure you buy enough!

Serve 2 cups of ragout with 1/2 a cup of relish on top - this recipe makes enough for 6 servings, each of which is 290 calories.

leek $2.47
carrot $0.13
Great Northern beans $2.06
fennel $6.97
red potatoes $1.41
red bell pepper $1.80
canned diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano $1.19
canned vegetable broth $1.47
frozen artichoke hearts $3.99
Swiss chard $2.99
yellow bell pepper $1.92

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The Vegan Pantry

  • Vegan yogurt - Whole Soy
  • Vegan milk - Silk
  • Vegan Feta - Sunergia
  • Vegan Cheese - Galaxy Foods
  • Vegan Eggs - Ener-G
  • Vegan Butter - Earth Balance