These days, I constantly start new projects to keep myself as busy as possible. My most recent project is to become a vegetarian for a week. In order for me to be able to forego meat, my vegetarian dishes should be very flavorful. This means that I need to work for a long time on each dish to build a bouquet of flavors.
Here is how my 7-Bean Casserole came out:
See the cooking process under the fold.
First, I took some of each type of dry beans I have at home. I have all kinds because they look beautiful in glass jars. And they are good for people with all kinds of health problems, from diabetes to high cholesterol (restoring my health is another one of my projects). Of course, you don’t need 7 kinds of bean. Use the ones you have as long as they don’t come from a can. Here are my beans:
I put them in a deep pan, filled it with water, got it to a boil, lowered the heat, and started building the flavor profile by adding spices and herbs. This has to be done slowly and patiently, tasting the liquid often to see what should be added to the casserole. Water needs to be added if it evaporates too much, and this means the flavor bouquet needs to be adjusted.
Since I don’t eat cooked onions, I added a whole onion and discarded it after the dish was ready. I also threw in some carrots, a cinnamon stick, allspice berries, bay leaf, dried ginger, and black peppercorns. These are my favorite basic spices that I use a lot and then add other stuff to them as the ingredients require. After a while, I added fresh marjoram and fresh sorrel. I had a beautiful fresh bunch of alfalfa sprouts, so I put some in the casserole. They really went well with the dish.
The dish was turning out less colorful than I wanted, so I added a handful of snap peas and some great fresh turmeric I had.
About an hour into the cooking, I noticed that one of the beans I was using had a slightly bitter taste and was overwhelming the dish. I added some maple syrup to correct the taste. The same result can be achieved with some brown sugar, too.
To add some acidity, I used grated orange peel and half a dozen cherry tomatoes. I just put them whole into the casserole.
Of course, I would betray every aspect of my identity if I didn’t use potatoes, so I quartered several small red potatoes, and added them to the dish.
When the dish had about a half an hour more to cook, I added some fresh parsley.
It’s important to let this dish take its time. The flavors need time to come together and form a consistent bouquet.
The result is so good that N (who greeted my idea of a vegetarian week with a tragic face) now says he is happy to give up meat for good if he can have this dish instead.
P.S. The store I linked to in this post is really cool because it offers little boxes of real Portuguese sardines. And they have escabeche that, to me as a non-expert in escabeche, tastes really great. Their maple syrup, however, is not amazing at all. Actually, it kind of sucks.
9 thoughts on “Vegetarian 7-Bean Casserole”
We cooked something like this casserole and like your kotlety with cous cous today. 🙂 Only I put much more cous cous, so kotlety are less tender, and I still don’t feel this cous cous (do see it)! On the good side, I do enjoy to see and taste the liberal quantities of dill in them.
Would love to read more recipes, especially of things like this casserole to eat with meat. We don’t use many spices though, and the preference is for simple main ingredients and cooking process.
Btw, did you cook it for 1 meal? We have it for tomorrow too, and usually cook for a week, f.e. rice.
I’m glad you enjoyed it! The casserole was initially planned to last for three days but it was so good that there was nothing left on the very first day.
I also made a root vegetable curry this week but it disappeared before I could even take pictures.
Sounds interesting. Never eaten curry so far.
The Indian food IS THE BEST in the world.
May be, if you could give a recipe of your favorite dish. May be, something with rice and/or chicken (my usual food) ? 🙂 But with simpler ingredients and not too many unusual spices, we won’t find, unless the entire point is the spices. 😦
Curry sounds like soup.
No, curry is a powder that you can add to pretty much anything. My sister’s best friend had to live on a very tiny amount of money when she was a student. So all she could buy were $0,99 cans of tuna and spaghetti. But she turned this into a delicious meal by adding curry powder.
Do you have black beans? I will be making Cuban black beans (with rice and chicken) next week.
I think they can be found.