Cherish life. Nourish it.

Leave a comment

Cannellini Beans, Tuscan Style

Cannellini beans

Cannellini beans

Rancho Gordo beans are exquisite: heirloom varieties that offer depth of flavor while being budget friendly. A rare but welcome combination.

Today I used cooked up a big pot (5 pounds!) for a community gathering. They were a hit.

Here is a redux of the recipe in a more family friendly size:

  • 1 lb cannellini beans, rinsed and soaked overnight
  • 2 medium onions, cut in half, each half studded with 2 cloves
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 2 carrots, 1/4 inch dice
  • 2 celery stalks, 1/4 inch doce
  • water, to cover by three inches
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2/3 c Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced or presssed garlic
  • 2 teaspoons EACH minced fresh Rosemary, Sage, and Thyme
  • 1 cup finely shredded Pecorino Romano
  • Freshly cracked black pepper

In a heavy dutch oven or bean pot, place the soaked, drained beans, onion halves, bay leaves, carrots, and celery. Add enough water to cover by at least 3 inches.

Bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, skimming off any foam that accumulates at the top of the beans. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover, cooking gently, for 1 hour. Add the salt, and continue cooking without the lid for 30 minutes or until the beans are tender and cooked through. Discard onion halves and bay leaves.

Remove the beans from the pot to a bowl, and measure the bean broth. Reserve 3 cups of the cooking liquid. Rinse and dry the bean cooking pot.

Add the olive oil to your clean, dry dutch oven or bean pot and heat on medium for 1 minute. Stir in the minced garlic and stir quickly so that it doesn’t burn. Add the beans, reserved cooking liquid, herbs, and cheese and bring to a brisk boil. Stir every couple of minutes so that it does not stick. The sauce will gradually reduce and thicken. A few of the beans may split, but they will help thicken the sauce. The sauce should reach the desired consistency in about 10 minutes. Add cracked pepper and salt to taste.

Tastes great as a side or main dish, or on crostini as an appetizer.

Leave a comment

Comfort Food, Vegan-Style

photo (11)When the weather begins to turn cooler, I get a hankering for one of my favorite late summer crops: purple hull peas.

Yes, I am a Child of the South. In case there was any doubt.

Harvested fresh, shelled just before cooking, they make a savory broth that begs for cornbread. The peas have a creamy texture.

In the same family as black-eyed peas and crowder peas, they are much more flavorful than either one. Traditionally cooked with some sort of pork, either fatback, ham, or bacon, purple hulls and their hearty pot liquor stand on their own beautifully without those inclusions.

Mature pods are tough and rather dry, and go into the compost bin. Immature pods are usually tender enough to include in the pot.

Serves 8 as a main dish

  • Enough peas to yield 2 pounds, shelled
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2T fine diced carrots
  • 3 T fine diced celery
  • 2T olive oil
  • plenty of cracked pepper (purple hulls love lots of pepper)
  • salt to taste- (2 teaspoons is about right for our family)
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 1T minced fresh sage

Rinse the shelled peas and set aside to drain.

Heat the olive oil in your favorite dutch oven until it shimmers, then add the diced onions. Cook until soft and slightly browned, 10 minutes or so. Stir in the carrots and celery.

Add the peas, and enough water to cover by one inch. Bring to a boil, boil for 5 minutes, then reduce to a simmer and cook til tender, around 45 minutes.

Once the peas are tender, stir in the tomato paste, salt, pepper, and sage. Cook gently for another 10 minutes to incorporate seasonings.

Many southern cooks mash some of the peas to thicken the pot liquor.

Delicious on their own, or with cornbread or cooked grains of your choice.


Leave a comment

Chipotle Maple Yams

photo (10)These were a successful experiment using Garnet yams and Japanese sweet potatoes, maple syrup, and a delightfully addictive chipotle-and-pumpkin-seed based hot sauce from Rancho Gordo, called Felicidad Chipotle Salsa. This salsa has quite a bit of pep to it, and may be a little intense for some. Rancho Gordo also makes a mild sauce that would work well in this recipe.

Oven 450 degrees F

Serves 8 generously

4 garnet yams, peeled and cut into 1 inch segments

4 Japanese sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch segments

1/2 tsp salt

3 T Felicidad Salsa

3 T dark amber Maple Syrup

2 T pumpkin seed oil

Place all ingredients in a baking dish. Roast, uncovered, stirring a couple of times during the cooking process. Remove from oven when tender. Stir, then let rest 5 minutes before serving. Get something cool to drink, and enjoy!

Leave a comment

Yellow Squash, Indonesian style

photo (9)

Vadouvan is a spice blend that combines Indian and French influences. Like curry powders, each blend is a little different. Many contain sugar and corn (maltodextrin), and should be avoided by those with sensitivities. Also, it’s much easier to control seasoning if a salt-free blend is used: then you can add salt to personal taste. My favorite ready made spice combination is from Williams Sonoma, and contains 11 ingredients. This spice blend is rather delicate, and some of its subtle flavors do not hold up well to prolonged, high heat cooking.

Makes a nice side for meat eaters. I had mine over leftover red quinoa.

Serves 6-8 generously

Oven 425 Degrees F


This goes together in a flash and roasts in the oven while you prep other things.

2 lb yellow squash, washed and ends trimmed, cut on the diagonal

2 cups sliced celery stalks

1/4 tsp cracked pepper

salt to taste

2 teaspoons fruity olive oil

Toss the above together and cover. Roast for 20 minutes or until squash is barely tender and celery is tender-crisp. Remove from oven and stir in:

2 T Vadouvan spice blend (widely available, I used Williams Sonoma brand)

Re-cover, and roast 5 more minutes. Remove to a serving dish and top with:

2 T minced Cilantro leaves

Leave a comment

Review: Rancho Gordo Flor de Junio Silvia beans

photo (7)Rancho Gordo grows the most amazing beans. Through a cooperative process, they support Mexican growers of heirloom beans, chilis, and herbs.

At the Nourish house, where we have tried most of their varieties and are avid fans, we were especially excited to sample Flor de Junio because they are particularly hard to come by.

They did not disappoint.

After soaking 1 pound of beans overnight, I drained them and cooked them with:

  • filtered water, to cover by 1 inch
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots
  • 3 T minced celery
  • Aleppo pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 T of minced fresh Savory (or 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried Savory)
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic

My favorite test for doneness is to take a couple of beans in a spoon and blow on them. When the skins split, the beans are sufficiently cooked to be salted, and to add any desired acidic ingredients such as tomato paste without hardening the proteins.

Once they reach that point, stir in:

  • 1 T sun-dried tomato paste
  • Salt to taste ( I used 2 level teaspoons of Herbamare seasoned salt)

The beans still tasted a little starchy at this point, but another 15 minutes of gentle simmering yielded an incredible creamy bean that still held its shape.

Once the beans were done, I stirred in 1/4 cup of Wild Mushroom Pesto (TexaFrance brand), and served beside pressure cooked short grain brown rice.

photo (8)It was a particularly satisfying mix of flavors. The beans have a lovely texture and their broth is delectable.

This bean variety reportedly has a short shelf life, and truly has to be enjoyed in season.

A simple bowl like this is one of my favorite ways to be nourished.


Leave a comment

Veggies look better and better…


Although the FDA frowns on farmers selling cloned animals, they don’t bat an eye about farmers selling the offspring of cloned animals. Or about selling the milk of cloned animals.

One more reason to eat more plants:

Leave a comment

Beans and Polenta Mexicana

A long day. Dinner had to be easy, but also a feast for the senses……so I reach for staples: leftover polenta, frozen black beans, tomato marmalade, chopped olives, capers, an avocado.

Here’s how it went:

photo (4)Brown the polenta and plate.

Into the pan: photo (5)go the drained beans, tomato marmalade, and chopped olives, a few capers, salt and pepper.

When warmed through, pour over the polenta, top with diced avocados, and a squeeze of lime.

photo (6)Just because the day was long doesn’t mean dinner has to be perfunctory or uninteresting.