a quick post for a quick boast – this cornbread was some of the best cornbread i have ever had. the beans weren’t bad either.
now, this meal is not exactly what you would call classy, but it was quite good and rather hit the spot as we’ve been experiencing some unseasonably cool and cloudy days here at the end of April. while some flowers have started popping up from their bulbs or blooming from tree branches (you cannot beat the mid-atlantic states’ flowering tree season), the vegetable selection at the market still largely consists of whatever’s left from last fall. thus: this menu.
i found myself with a great number of onions, carrots, a few languishing celery stalks and some kale (i always have kale), so this meal was birthed from necessity rather than whimsy or craving, and therefore the recipe is more of a suggested guideline for what-to-do-when-you-have-a-lot-of-vegetables-that-need-to-be-cooked-right–now. the only trick to making a decent white bean stew into a very good indeed white bean stew is to add a little finely minced preserved lemon. they are extremely easy to put together and, while they take a month to mature, they last nearly indefinitely in the fridge and are often just the thing that a normally bland dish needs.
and the cornbread? i took those onions, sliced them very thinly, caramelized them slowly and folded them into my go-to recipe developed by isa. the result was not as onion-y as i expected, but the caramelized alliums provided a depth and sweetness that made the cornbread rich and moist, almost like a cast-iron baked corn cake. give it a shot the next time you have too many onions with shoots that are threatening to burst free. i used 4 large white onions which cooked down to about 1 cup and omitted the syrup from the batter. be sure to preheat your skillet with the oven and grease it up good before pouring the batter in which should sizzle satisfactorily.
white bean stew
vegetables listed here are suggested, feel free to use whatever is haunting your crisper drawers
to cook the beans:
2 c dried white beans
1 tsp baking soda
2 quarts water, plus more if necessary
to flavor the beans:
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 preserved lemon peel, pith scraped off, minced
1 bunch kale, roughly chopped, or your preferred hardy green
salt, pepper, and pepper sauce, to taste
– begin by boiling the beans: in a large pot, combine rinsed beans, baking soda and water and bring to a rolling boil. turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for 45 minutes to an hour. drain, rinse the beans, and return to the pot with about 2 quarts water. return to boil and reduce to a simmer.
– meanwhile, sautée the diced carrots, celery, onion, or whatever you’d like in a little oil. when the onions are translucent and the carrots are softened slightly, add the mixture to the now simmering beans along with the minced garlic. simmer for 30-45 minutes or until the beans are completely cooked. stir frequently and add water if necessary.
– add the kale and preserved lemon to the pot and stir to combine. season with salt, pepper, and pepper sauce or a splash of good vinegar to taste. serve warm to the hungry.