a healthy choice (braised white beans with potatoes and vegetables)

dscn1968.jpg

You know those days after you’ve eaten nothing but crap when you just feel heavy and unpleasant? Usually they happen after a vacation or maybe just a particularly decadent weekend. This is my go-to meal for those days.

My parents recently visited, and it was four days of mostly eating out. Waffles for breakfast, pizza for lunch, a big plate of sausage and potatoes for dinner. Yikes. I may not generally be a vegetable-lover, but days like that make me crave something healthy.

And this meal is perfect for that. It has lots of tomatoes, garlic, and zucchini, plenty of beans, and just a bit of starch in the form of red potatoes.

Not only is it healthy, but it’s quick and forgiving as well. After a bit of chopping, there isn’t much to do except give the occasional stir while everything simmers together into deliciousness. At the end, the flavors of garlic and crushed red pepper permeate the sauce, the zucchini is softened but not mushy, and the beans and potatoes have soaked up the tomato-ey juices. This is one of my favorite ways to be healthy!

Braised White Beans with Tomatoes, Zucchini, and Garlic
(adapted from Vegetarian Classics, by Jeanne Lemlin)
Serves 2 (plus leftovers)

I’ve taken to drizzling a bit of extra-virgin olive oil over everything right before serving.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 (14-ounce) can ready-cut diced tomatoes
¼ cup water
1 medium boiling potato (red or Yukon gold), cut into ¼-inch dice
1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced into ¼-inch slices (the size I buy depends on how healthy I want to be)
1 (14-ounce) cans small white beans, such as Great Northern or navy, rinsed well in a strainer
¼ teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
¼ teaspoon salt

1. Heat the oil, garlic, and red pepper in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook for about 30 seconds after the garlic begins to sizzle. (It should not become at all colored). Stir in the tomatoes, water, and potatoes, and cover the pan. Cook at a lively simmer for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are almost cooked through.

2. Mix in the zucchini, beans, rosemary, and salt. Cover the pan again and cook, stirring often, 10 minutes more, or until the zucchini and potatoes are tender. At this point check the consistency of the sauce; it should be thick and soupy, not dry or watery. Add a bit of water if the mixture doesn’t have much sauce; cook it uncovered if the juices seem watery. Serve in large pasta bowls, preferably, or on plates.

to clear our sinuses (crockpot rice and beans)

dscn1760.jpg

Well, we can’t eat sandwiches every night! We also had rice two nights in a row. Not a great week for variety.

I realized recently that I only have one crockpot meal that I make regularly. That needs to change! My sister is a crockpot fiend, so I need to ask her for some good ones.

This recipe came from my brother. The first time I had it was when I visited him in Oklahoma. We drove there from Indiana, and our car broke down in Missouri, so…we ate at like 10pm or something. Incidently, while we were waiting around for the car to be fixed in Missouri, we wandered into a bar, where we met up with an older couple who had just gotten married. Cute!

copy-of-img_9807Photo updated 12/02/08

Back to food. I’ve made a few changes to the recipe. It originally called for boneless, skinless chicken thighs, but I decided they weren’t really necessary. There’s plenty of protein from the beans and rice, right? Sometimes I do add bone-in, skinless chicken thighs and then shred the meat right before serving. There’s something about shredded chicken that I just like. Also, it’s supposed to be served over spanish rice, but white rice is easier and there’s plenty of flavor in the beans. Oh, and I changed the beans from pinto to kidney. My friend from Puerto Rico makes rice and beans with kidney beans, so maybe they’re more authentic? I don’t know, I bought them on accident once and liked them better.

And! I had to use actual canned green chiles! My New Mexican green chile supply ran out, and no one resupplied me this year!

Spicy Crockpot Beans
Serves 3

2 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 (4-ounce) cans green chile, diced
2 chipotle chiles from adobo sauce, minced
1 (0.85 ounce) package chicken gravy mix (I use Simply Organic)
½ teaspoon sugar
2 tomatoes, chopped, or ½ (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 cups cooked white rice

Add first five ingredients to crockpot and cook on low for 3-5 hours. Stir in tomatoes 30 minutes before serving. Serve over white rice. (If you use chicken pieces as well, add them skin side down on the bottom of the pot and cook for 6-8 hours.)