Here we are again- this happens every single time. Every year I get a little bit sad towards the end of summer because I completely forget that actually, FALL is my favorite season. Whenever fall truly comes (like it’s finally starting to come in NYC) I get giddy when pulling out all my comfy infinity scarves, sweaters, and other cozies. To admit, I’m really quite a homebody. I love being inside somewhere warm and comfy with friends or family sharing laughs and stories, while knowing that it’s very unpleasant/impossible to be outside. I always get asked why I don’t like the cold- didn’t I grow up in temperatures equivalent to those of the North Pole? Russia was not exactly what you would call pleasant in the winter, but that doesn’t mean that I like the cold or ever got used to it. It’s kind of funny if you think about it- this is really the peak season for homebodies like me since people are more or less stuck inside when the weather is cold. So with that said, I’m stoked to be be more or less living in my kitchen cooking and baking with warming fall flavors for the next couple of months. Excellent!
One of the joys of being plant based is that you eat a LOT of beans… Which can mean not-so-easy digestion for some of us. Until we learned all about beans and legumes in Culinary School (a month ago), I was always buying organic bpa-free canned beans. But my world has since been transformed (believe it or not, beans can make THAT much of an impact on a plant-based foodie’s life!) I’ve started buying only dry organic beans, soaking them, and cooking them with kombu. Now this does require a little bit of prep ahead since you need to soak the beans for at least 5-6 hours, but it’s well worth it. Not to mention, it’s much more cost efficient to buy beans in bulk- and you know that there is no hormone-disrupting BPA lurking around anywhere!
So what exactly is kombu? Kombu is a seaweed that has enzymes to helps break down complex carbs in beans when cooked or soaked together. These pesky complex carbs are the reason why beans aren’t always the most digestible friendly guys out there. You can read a bit more about kombu and a detailed explanation of how it helps with digestion by checking out my lovely friend/fellow culinary student Maribeth’s entry on beans. You can find kombu in any health store or also online at amazon Amazon. For a little flavor, I also like to add a few fennel seeds while the beans are boiling.
This recipe is based on an adzuki and butternut squash stew recipe we did in class a while back. When adding the tamari, feel free to keep tasting to see what your preference is- I personally like the taste to be quite sharp but if you’re not much of a tamari fan, I would stick to 2 or 3 Tablespoons. I roasted the butternut squash seeds with a bit of salt, oil and smoked paprika- they add a nice crunch to the otherwise soft textures of the stew, so I highly recommend it! Plus if you use the seeds, you are consuming the whole food and not producing any waste :).
Anders and I went on a quick trip outside of the city last weekend to try to catch the last warm weather. Although the leaves were still pretty green, the season has definitely started to leave its mark. I was hoping to find some mushrooms, but no luck this time!
Kidney Bean & Butternut Squash Stew with Kale + Roasted Seeds
Author: adapted from Natural Gourmet Institute Chefs
Serves: 2-3 servings
- 1 Tbls avocado or coconut oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1⁄2 tsp salt
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup kidney beans soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
- 2-inch piece kombu
- 4 cups vegetable stock or water
- Half of one medium butternut squash, large diced
- 1 inch knob of ginger, finely grated
- ¼ cup tamari or more, to taste
- juice of half lemon
- 4-5 kale leaves, destemmed and ripped into pieces
- chopped scallions for garnish (optional)
- Roasted Seeds
- seeds from the butternut squash
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp oil of your choice
- Heat 1 Tbls of oil in a pot then add onion, garlic, and sautee until translucent. Add salt, kombu, stock or water, and beans. Simmer for 20 or until beans begin to soften.
- Add the butternut squash and simmer for another 15 min or until squash is soft.
- Add the grated ginger, lemon, tamari, and kale. Simmer for a couple of minutes until kale is dark green.
- Remove from heat. Using a slotted spoon, stir the stew and see if you can find the kombu (if it has not disintegrated, if it has, this is fine!) If there are large kombu pieces, remove and discard them.
- To toast the seeds, preheat the oven to 375F/190C. Clean the seeds, removing any squash bits from them. Toss the seeds with 1 tsp oil and add salt and smoked paprika. Toast for 5-8 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.
- To serve, sprinkle the seeds and scallions on top of stew- enjoy and stay cozy!