Oh we do love beans in our house! Baked, blitzed, fried, refried, cold, marinated, stewed.... any and every possible way will do. I found this fantastic premixed bag of ten different bean varieties, including some of my favourites like kidney, sugar, mung, butter and haricots. Mixed in with these are some others I'm not that familiar with like black eyed, lima, pinto, alubia and black turtle beans. This mix is really fabulous and versatile, great for salads or as a side with vegetables, it also makes a great cassoulet. Cassoulet is a traditional slow cooked casserole containing meat and white haricot beans originating in the south of france. I took my inspiration from the cooking method and the use of beans but little else of the classic version remains in my recipe. This is a rich deeply flavoured slow cooked pot of vegetable heaven. If you want to add some meat, use spicy smoked chorizo or lardons. Any hard root vegetable can stand a long cook and some hardy winter greens to go with chopped tomatoes, beans of your choice and some lemon juice. This is a one pot wonder left to cook slowly in a low oven for a few hours, developing over time and much improved reheated for a day or two on the stove. Eat with crusty bread, any grain or soft polenta.
1 large shallot or onion
2/3 cloves of garlic, crushed
150g cavolo nero, kale or winter greens
400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 cup mixed beans or beans of your choice
Juice of half a lemon
1 bay leaf
1 Lt vegetable or chicken stock
1 tbsp tomato paste
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 150C. Heat a heavy casserole dish on the stove. Slice the shallot and saute in olive oil with two cloves of crushed garlic until soft. Peel and chop the carrots and turnip into chunks, add to the pot and heat. Roughly chop cavolo nero, mix through and allow to begin to wilt. Add bay leaf, tomatoes, stock and tomato paste and bring to the boil. The fluid should be just covering all the vegetables. Season with salt and black pepper. Before putting it in the oven, stir in the third clove of crushed garlic and juice of half a lemon. Place in the middle of the oven with the lid on and leave to cook slowly for about 2 hours until vegetables are soft and the liquid has reduced and is deep dark red in colour.