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Abrazos! xox Penny

Monday, January 10, 2011

No, it is not the Flu

I was sick to my stomach all weekend. No, not from the flu. From the tragic, mindless, senseless violence in Arizona. Then, something happened which helped and I will get to that later.

Good Morning Angel

A year ago, I gave up eating animals and that choice was not primarily for health reasons. The major reason I have switched to a plant-based diet was to stop the violence that my tastes and hunger created. (I live in Little Rock, a city with a pretty violent track record, too. I believe it is in the top 10 cities with the most per capita violent crime.) I decided that changing how I eat was the one thing I could control and create peace with every day. For my plate to be a peaceful place is a start. Do no harm. May that mantra be as contagious as the flu.

Anyway, I am still very upset and wanted to talk about beans today, Meatless Monday. Beans are great and there is a big, peaceful movement a foot to bring back some heirloom varieties. If you have not had an heirloom bean, you are missing out. Many of the beans in the grocery store are old and dusty tasting. Like tomatoes, teas, apples and many other crops, reviving the heirloom varieties of beans has popped out some very exciting flavors. Every Christmas for the past couple of years, I fix an heirloom bean dish using Christmas Limas, a giant lima bean. They are beautiful, crimson-y colored with lovely white markings. The recipe below is one of my favorites and it appeared originally in Food and Wine.

Delicious beans combined with a beautiful snowfall warmed my soul. Nourishing peace is also snow much fun!!!

Stewed Giant Limas

3 cups dried giant lima beans or gigantes, rinsed and picked over, then soaked for 4 hours and drained 
Kosher salt 
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
1 medium onion, finely diced 
1 garlic clove, minced 
One 16-ounce can whole tomatoes—juices reserved, tomatoes coarsely chopped 
2 tablespoons chopped oregano 
1 cup coarsely crumbled feta cheese (6 1/2 ounces), for sprinkling 
2 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
2 tablespoons chopped oregano 
2 tablespoons chopped parsley 
1 small garlic clove, minced 
Kosher salt 

Prepare the lima beans. In a large saucepan, cover the lima beans with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the limas are just tender but still al dente, about 2 1/2 hours; add water as needed to keep the limas covered by 2 inches. Season the limas with salt and let stand at room temperature for 5 minutes. Drain the limas, reserving 1 1/2 cups of the cooking liquid. 

In a medium saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook over moderately low heat until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes, oregano and the reserved bean cooking liquid and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 1 hour. Season the tomato sauce with salt. 

Meanwhile, make the pesto. In a mini food processor, combine the olive oil with the oregano, parsley and garlic and pulse to a coarse puree. Season the oregano pesto with salt. 

Preheat the oven to 425°. In a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, mix the limas with the tomato sauce and sprinkle the feta on top. Bake in the upper third of the oven for about 40 minutes, until the beans are bubbling and the cheese is browned. Remove the baking dish from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the bread crumbs and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until toasted, about 3 minutes. Season with salt. Top the beans with the bread crumbs, dollop with the oregano pesto and serve. Serves 6-8.

This dish is fabulous as leftovers, reheated and topped with an egg!!

Now, s'more snow much fun..

Two bemused Sous stayed inside as evening snow fell

and turned into a morning wonderland

Neighborhood snow cuties

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