rustic bean cassoulet

October 25, 2010

I was at a slow food event the other day where they paired chefs with producers in the name of fantastic slow food creations. A lot of the food looked out of this world but, sadly, there was so much that I couldn’t try because it was all meat meat meat. Mostly pork for some reason – pulled pork, stewed pork, deep fried pork. Thank goodness for Brad Long who made a wonderful bean dish with wild chanterelle mushrooms. I asked him for some tips, tried to commit them to memory, and came up with my own version last night. Gotta say, it rocked.

1 large onion, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

good quality organic olive oil

herbs of your choice but you might want to head towards rosemary, marjoram, thyme, and parsley, chopped

dried mushrooms of your choice (or fresh if you have them but sometimes it’s hard to find fresh chanterelles, porcini etc.)

1 cup white wine

slow roasted tomatoes

beans (navy, adzuki, black turtle), cooked

salt and pepper

Cook beans of your choice and reserve. Heat up white wine in a small pot on the stove. Add dried mushrooms to rehydrate. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a heavy dutch oven on medium-high. Add onions and saute until nicely browned. Add garlic and saute until fragrant. Add herbs and saute until the kitchen is filled with the smell. Pour wine off the mushrooms and add to the dutch oven. Bring to a boil and let the wine reduce. Add reserved mushrooms. Add slow roasted tomatoes and let simmer for 5 – 10 minutes until the flavours start to blend. If the mixture gets too dry, add some additional wine and reduce. Add cooked beans. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve immediately with parsley garnish, hearty bread, and a glass of red wine. Let me tell you, it hits the spot on a rainy, grey, fall night. And if you’re eating it as leftovers the next day, you can always add green beans, cauliflower, or other veggies as seen in the photo above. Thanks Brad!

flageolet soubise

September 21, 2010

I sourced some amazing flageolet beans on the weekend. Flageolets are tiny, tender French beans. They are delicate in flavor, and are considered the darling of the French bean connoisseur. Essentially, they are tiny French kidney beans that possess a pale green hue and boast a tenderness like none other. So tonight’s dinner theme was “ode to the flageolet.” I made two versions. One you see below – Flageolets Soubise – a recipe inspired by Jamie Kennedy. The other was Flageolet à la Provençal. Both were delicious. The troops were divided on which one they preferred. I’d take both. Why choose? Life’s too short.


240g fresh flageolet beans (or 180g dried)

1 clove of garlic, sliced thinly

12 peeled pearl onions

4 carrots, of various heirloom varieties, scrubbed and sliced thickly on bias

1 bay leaf

sprig of fresh thyme

salt to taste

1. Place all ingredients except salt in a large saucepan. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for approximately 30 minutes.

2. Season to taste with salt.


4 medium-sized onions, peeled and sliced thinly

200g olive oil

salt to taste

Cider vinegar to taste

1. Place sliced onions and olive oil in a saucepan and cook slowly until onions are transparent, but not browned.

2. Transfer to a blender and process until pureed.

3. Season with salt and a touch of cider vinegar.


Warm an oval ceramic serving dish in the oven. Pour some soubise on the base of the dish. Spoon the beans and carrot mixture on top of the soubise. Serve immediately.

flageolet à la provençal

September 20, 2010

Tonight was “ode to the flageolet.” I made two dishes. This one, and Flageolet Soubise. Both were awesome. And hearty. And healthy. And full of organic goodness. Here’s how it’s done:

3 tbsp. good quality olive oil

3 large shallots, sliced

1 large garlic clove, minced

2 fresh tomatoes, diced

28 oz. flageolet beans, cooked

1/3 cup white or red wine, whatever you happen to have open

1 tsp sea salt

Freshly ground pepper

sprigs of thyme or rosemary

In a non stick, fry pan, heat the olive oil, add the shallots and garlic, sauté on medium heat until the shallots are soft but not brown. Add the diced tomatoes along with the flageolet beans and the wine. Continue to cook for a further 5 minutes or until the beans are not soupy.

Add the sea salt, pepper and herbs. Taste for seasoning.

Serve. Eat. Enjoy.

3 sisters chili

June 20, 2010

I just bought the new Moosewood Cookbook which is great – recipes that are accessible, easy, and tasty. Last night I decided to try something new from it. Sammy wanted burritos with ground beef and cheese. I wanted burritos with vegetables and greens. So we did it all. I made Moosewood’s North-South Chili to throw in mine but decided to tweak the recipe a little  by using sweet potatoes instead of squash (out of necessity) and by adding corn (out of desire). As it cooked away I decided it should be called 3 Sisters Chili in honour of the wisdom of many of our aboriginal peoples who planted beans, corn, and squash together in a symbiotically supportive micro-ecosystem. If its good to plant them together, I’m guessing it’s good to eat them together!

2 tbsps olive oil

3 cups chopped onions

1/4 tsp salt

5 garlic cloves, minced or pressed

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp chili powder

2 cups diced, peeled winter squash or sweet potato

2 cups diced red or orange pepper

1 cup water

15 ounces red kidney beans or other dried beans, cooked and drained

1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes

1 1/2 cups corn, cut off the cob

ground black pepper

chopped scallions and/or cilantro

1. Warm the oil in a soup pot on medium-high heat. Add the onions and salt and cook until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.

2. Stir in the garlic, red pepper flakes, oregano, cumin, coriander, paprika, chili powder, squash or sweet potato, bell peppers, and water. Cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes.

3. Add the beans and tomatoes, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

4. Add the corn and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add black pepper to taste.

5. Serve topped with scallions and/or cilantro, if you wish.

smoky spicy split peas

February 14, 2010

This is a new recipe I discovered from Tom Philpott in Grist Magazine. It is thick, and smokey, and really good when you’ve got a chill in the bone and need something that will stick to the ribs. If you eat it with rice (or another grain) you’ve got a complete protein in combination with the split peas. I never liked split peas but with this new discovery I’m quite a fan. Buy some really good smoked Spanish paprika and the recipe will hum. The first thing you need to do is get your mise en place – a french cooking term that essentially means, “get your shit together.” My friend Emily thinks it’s a great term and I now hear her regularly say “I’ve got to go and get my mise en place!”

1 1/2 cups split peas, rinsed and picked through for rocks

1 large onion

1 large carrot

1 large celery stalk, chopped

2 – 4 cloves garlic, minced

4 1/2 cups water or homemade stock

some decent extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons of Spanish smoked paprika

a wedge of lemon or some wine vinegar

sea salt and pepper

flat-leaf parsley or arugula, chopped

a little crushed red chile pepper, optional but really nice

Cover bottom of a medium heavy-bottom pot with your everyday olive oil. Turn heat to a gentle medium. After a minute, add the onion, carrot and celery. Cook, stirring often, for ten or so minutes, until veggies are soft but not browned. If they threaten to turn brown, turn heat down a little.

Add the garlic and the paprika. Cook, stirring, until garlic perfumes the air, a minute or so. Add the peas, stir to mix with the veggies. Add the water or stock; bring to boil; cover; turn heat to low; let simmer.

As the peas cook, check them every few minutes. If they seem on the verge of drying out, add some hot water or stock. While they’re cooking, chop about half a bunch of parsley or several arugula leaves for garnish. The peas should be done in about an hour, maybe a little less. They are ready when they are very soft.

When they are done, add a vigorous twist or three of black pepper, and taste. Stir in a teaspoon of salt. Now add a small amount of acid—a teaspoon or so lemon juice or vinegar. You don’t want it to taste lemony or vinegary; you just want the acid to balance the flavors. Taste again and adjust for salt, pepper, and acid. More smoked paprika could be added at this stage if you want.

To serve, ladle into warm bowls over brown rice or toasted crusty bread. Drizzle with the best olive oil you have—this dish will showcase its flavor—add a dash of crushed chile flakes, and a good sprinkle of chopped greens.

chickpea stew, vegan stew, vegan chickpea stew, vgourmet, Ruth Richardson, picada, romesco

This is a great recipe from Spain – Potato and Chickpea Stew with Picada and Romesco Sauce. The Picada and Romesco Sauce share many of the same ingredients but they are two distinct toppings with very different textures and tastes. It looks involved but it’s not hard. There are a number of steps but it’s all pretty easy and straightforward. Enjoy. Make double. Chin Chin. It’s from Deborah Madison‘s  Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. (Oh, and I keep the extra Romesco Sauce around for sandwiches and dips! It’s really good on the VLT.)

Potato and Chickpea Stew

1 lb waxy-fleshed potatoes

3 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, diced

2 large cloves garlic, minced

2 generous pinches saffron

2 large red bell peppers, diced

1 large yellow or red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch wide strips

1 heaping tsp sweet paprika

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1/2 cup medium-dry sherry

2 cups crushed tomatoes with juice

2 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (or two 15-oz cans, rinsed)

3 cups chickpea broth, stock, or water

1 1/2 tsp salt

freshly ground pepper

chopped parsley for garnish

If using fingerling potatoes, halve them lengthwise. Large round potatoes can be cut into thick rounds or quartered.

Warm the oil in a wide pot with the onion, garlic, saffron, peppers, and potatoes. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring gently every now and then, until the potatoes are tender-firm, about 25 min. Add the paprika, parsley, and red pepper flakes, and cook 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sherry and cook until the juices are thick and syrupy, about 12 min.

Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, and broth, stock or water to cover. Season with salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper, then cover and cook over low heat until the potatoes are completely tender, about 20 min. If the stew is soupy and you plan to serve it right away, stir in 1/4 cup picada (or more if necessary) to thicken it. If you don’t plan to serve the stew for 1 hour or more, it may not need the bread crumbs since it will thicken as it stands. Serve in soup plates with any additional picada sprinkled over the top along with the extra parsley. Add a spoonful of the Romesco sauce to each bowl and pass the rest.

romesco sauce, picada, potato chickpea stew, vegan stew, catalan sauce, vgourmet, Ruth Richardson

Romesco Sauce

2 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, and seeded

1/4 cup almonds, roasted

1/4 cup hazelnuts, roasted and peeled

1 slice country-style white bread

olive oil for frying

3 cloves garlic

1 1/2 tsp ground red chile or red pepper flakes

4 small plum tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 tbsp chopped parsley

1/2 tsp salt

freshly ground pepper

1 tsp sweet paprika

1/4 cup sherry vinegar

1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

This Catalan sauce is utterly delicious served with chickpeas, roasted potatoes, or grilled vegetables.

To roast the peppers, place them under a broiler or over a gas flame until the skins are charred. Put them in a bowl, cover with a plate, and set aside for 15 min. Peel and seed the peppers.

Roast the nuts in a 350°F oven for 7 to 10 min., or until they smell toasty. Let them cool slightly, and then rub the hazelnuts between the folds of a towel to remove loose skins. (The almonds don’t need peeling.)

Fry the bread in a little olive oil until golden and crisp. When the bread is cool, grind it with the nuts and garlic in a food processor or a mortar until fairly fine. Add everything else but the vinegar and oil and process or work with the pestle until smooth. With the machine running, or your arm working if you’re using a mortar and pestle, gradually pour in the vinegar, then the oil. Taste to make sure the sauce has enough salt and plenty of piquancy.

picada, romesco, chickpea stew, vegan stew, Ruth Richardson, vgourmet,


A lively seasoning of fried bread and garlic, picada is used in Spanish dishes as a thickener and flavouring. Picada is also a good addition to pasta and plain vegetables. To make 1/2 cup picada, toast 1/4 cup peeled almonds in a 350°F oven until they’re pale gold, 8 – 10 minutes. Remove and set aside. Meanwhile, slowly fry one slice of white country-style bread in 2 tbsps olive oil until golden on both sides. Grind the bread, almonds, and 2 large garlic cloves and pinch of salt in a food processor to make a crumbly paste.