You can be a gluten-free vegan, and a soy-free vegan… but can you be a bean-free vegan? Not in my opinion! Because beans are critical for eating a truly healthy vegan diet. Beans are inexpensive and nutritious, but what I love most is their versatility, adapting their way into soups, dips, spreads, pates, burgers, dressings, casseroles, and more. They are one of the most overlooked and underutilized food groups (unless you are a bean-loving vegan, and eat them everyday like I do)!
Not sold on beans yet? Fine, no better time than Vegan MOFO to get you ‘using your bean’. Each week, I’ll be giving you a delicious and unique legume-loving dish that will be easy enough for you to work up during a weeknight, and yet special enough to serve to guests. You’ll be joining me as a certified bean-junkie quicker than you can say ‘garbanzo’!
First up, a warming stew well suited to the fall season. Soups top my cooking lists through the year. They yield a large batch, perfect for feeding a family, or for storing in smaller portions in the freezer for individual dinners throughout the week. This one, from my upcoming book “Let Them Be Vegan” is so satisfying with its medley of flavors and hearty beans and sweet potatoes. Serve with a spinach salad and some crusty whole-grain bread, and dinner is ready.
Moroccan Bean Stew with Sweet Potatoes (wheat-free, gluten-free, soy-free)
There’s something about the warmth and complexity of the spices and seasonings in Moroccan cuisine that inspires me to create new dishes using them. This stew offers a heaping serving of black beans, chickpeas, and lentils, along with sweet potatoes that simmer in a fragrant, intoxicating broth infused with cinnamon, cumin, coriander, ginger, fennel, garlic. Individual servings can be finished with slices of dried roasted figs, a nice touch if serving to guests.
1/2 – 1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin seed
3/4 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp dried basil
3/4 tsp sea salt
couple pinches cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper flakes (optional; adjust to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 cup onion, diced
3-4 medium-large cloves garlic, minced or grated
3 – 3 1/2 cups yellow or orange-fleshed sweet potato, cut in bite-sized cubes
1 can (14 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14 oz) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup dry red lentils, rinsed
3 cups vegetable stock
3 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 tbsp freshly grated ginger
Roasted Fig Topping:
1/2 – 3/4 cup sliced dried figs (about 7-10 figs) (ex: black mission figs)
1/2 – 1 tsp olive oil
Pinch sea salt
In a large pot over medium heat, add the oil with the spices and salt. Cook for a couple of minutes, and then add the onion, garlic, and sweet potato. Stir through, cover, and cook for about 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions have started to soften. Add all remaining ingredients except ginger (and figs, if using), and increase heat to high to bring to boil. Once at a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 20-25 minutes, until lentils are fully dissolved. Add fresh ginger, stir through and cover and let sit for a few minutes. Meanwhile, to roast figs, preheat oven (or toaster oven) to 425. Place figs on a small baking sheet lined with parchment. Toss through the olive oil and salt. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, tossing once or twice throughout (and checking to ensure they don’t burn). Remove and let cool slightly. (Figs will get chewier and crispier as they cool.) Serve portions of soup, topping with a sprinkling of the roasted sliced figs.
Dreena Burton is a stay-at-home mother of three busy young girls. Vegan since 1995, Dreena is the author of The Everyday Vegan, Vive le Vegan!, and Eat, Drink & Be Vegan. Her fourth title, Let Them Eat Vegan! will be available this spring (2012). She lives outside of Vancouver, British Columbia, and blogs at http://vivelevegan.blogspot.com/.