Saturday, January 3, 2009

Dark Days of Winter Challenge - week 7 (vegetarian)

Since the new camera I got for Giftmas is having some issues (why on earth would it require Windows XP?!) I have chosen a meal from the old camera. This one was a vegetarian delight with candied curried squash, bean ragout, and spinach sauteed with garlic.

The curried, candied squash idea came from my friend over at Hungry Woolf, who conveniently blogged her recipe so I was able to borrow it. I modified it a bit as I had already roasted the squash, so I cooked it for a shorter time and I also used regular curry powder (although I think something a bit hotter would be wonderful in this dish, as sweet and hot are a wonderful combination.) I look forward to making this dish again, since my squash population is still quite large. The combination of brown sugar and curry and apple cider was completely ace. The squash I used was an orange-striped cushaw from Wayward Seed Farm, and it was quite enormous - probably 6-8 inches wide and a good foot and a half long.

The spinach was a random bag from one of the last farmer's markets of the season, and it survived in the fridge for who knows how many weeks. I was surprised and delighted to see that it was still good, so I sauteed it with some sliced garlic and olive oil.

I completely forget what variety the beans were. We purchased a good 8 or nine varieties from Pop and Judy, a delightful couple of farmers in their 80's. Pop enjoys the challenge of growing shelling beans (although he says you'd never make any money off of them) and brought a small amount of dried beans to market in both the spring and fall of this year. I *think* these were Peregion beans, a lovely little heirloom bean in mottled shades of browns. I based the recipe off of the fresh shelling bean ragout (ragoût de haricots à égrener) in A Provençal Kitchen by Suzanne McLucas. I pre-cooked the beans, because I never know when the darn things are going to be ready. I always do a quick soak during the day - bring the beans to boil in plenty of water, then turn off the heat, put a lid on the pot, and let sit for a couple of hours - then drain them and refill the water before actual cooking, allow about 2 hours for them to cook. You can also par-cook the beans the day before, or soak over night. I always discard the soaking water and rinse the beans before actual cooking, at least since I learned about red kidney bean poisoning.

Anyway, here is the recipe for the dish, which of course involves wine. I am a big fan of this style of sauce.

Shelling bean ragout, Provençal-style

For the beans:
1 cup of dried beans, more or less
1 large bay leaf
1 large garlic clove, smashed
a couple of fresh thyme twigs of 1 teaspoon of dried thyme
more water than you'll think they'll need

Cook them until they are done using whatever dried bean cooking method you prefer. (There are many!) Be absolutely sure that they never run out of water; you may need to add more throughout the cooking time. Add an extra hour to however long you think they'll take to get done, because dried beans can be cantankerous. Drain the beans and set aside.

For the sauce:
2 T butter
1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 t flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup bouillon or broth
2 teaspoons tomato paste
salt and pepper

Melt butter in a heavy skillet or saucepan; add onion and saute over medium heat until golden. Sprinkle with flour and stir; add wine slowly and stir to blend; add bouillon and tomato paste and stir. Cook over medium-low heat for a good 10 minutes, and season with salt and pepper. It should be fairly thick. Add beans back in and stir until heated through, and there you have it! The original recipe suggests a puree can be made by running the dish through a food mill (most specifically not a blender.) I may try that with the leftovers next time.


livinginalocalzone said...

It is really neat how long winter squash lasts - I have some from October that are still doing fine in a "cool dark place" that I think will hold throughout the winter. I've never seen the cushaw though - how would you describe the taste compared to other winter squash? With the apple cider it sounds delicious.
Glad the beans worked out okay!

Granny Two Shoes said...

This is absolutely wonderful!

hungrywoolf said...

glad you enjoyed the squash. I had forgotten how good it was - I need to make it again. I have been eating chickpea soup with adobo chipotles from the freezer. addicted so I will need to make another batch.