As I have said many times on these pages, I am not a vegan. However, I do make vegan or vegetarian meals with some frequency. This rich and flavorful stew is something I came up with after cooking up beautiful heirloom scarlet runner beans and chick peas that I had in my pantry from Rancho Gordo. Some of the beans I cooked up will go into a bean soup with smoked pork butt, but I also wanted a vegan dish for the remainder. If you don’t want to cook up your own beans, you could probably substitute canned beans. It won’t be quite the same and I have never seen scarlet runner beans in a can, but a bit of experimenting can sometimes produce wonderful results. However, if you own a slow cooker, cooking up your own beans is really simple and opens up all kinds of bean options for you. Also, I always cook my beans with aromatics – carrot, onions, garlic and some herbs.
I served this stew, with its rich coconut milk-based sauce over plain Basmati rice. It would go equally well over faro or barley or wheat berries. You want a hearty grain that can soak up the sauce, while keeping a bit of chew. The seasonings in this are Indian-inspired but not based on any particular recipe. The dish requires nothing more than a bit of chopped cilantro on top for serving and possibly a green salad. Leftovers heated up will make for a satisfying lunch that should banish the sad desk lunch blues.
Rich Bean, Mushroom and Cauliflower Stew
Yield: 6 Servings
2-3 Tablespoons EVOO
1 small head cauliflower cut into florets
6 cups of beans (I used Scarlet Runner beans and Chickpeas, but a large white bean or pinto bean with chickpeas would probably work) with liquid or about 2 cups of vegetable broth
8 ounces sliced mushrooms (I used Crimini, but white button mushrooms are fine)
1 can of full-fatted coconut milk
2 small onions, coarsely chopped
10 whole cloves
2 rounded teaspoons curry powder (I used 1/2 hot curry powder and 1/2 regular)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
2-3 Tablespoons, chopped cilantro for garnish
- In a 3.5 – 4 quart Dutch oven, heat the EVOO. Add the onion and cook until it is translucent – about 3 minutes.
- Add the cloves and the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Add the cauliflower and the mushrooms with the ginger and the spices and stir through to coat the cauliflower.
- Add the beans and about 1.5 cups of the bean liquid or vegetable broth if you are using canned beans. Bring everything to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pot and cook for about 15 minutes.
- Add in the coconut milk and stir through. I like a lot of liquid, but if you don’t want quite so much, do not add the entire can of coconut milk. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes more.
- Serve over the Basmati rice and garnish with fresh chopped cilantro.