Recipe: A French Influenced Cabbage and Kidney Bean Bake

Isn’t it great when something old seems new again?

Maybe it’s an old shirt you find in the back of your closet that you’d forgotten about and re-discover with delight.

Maybe it’s a hobby that had been set aside when life got busy but now feels like the perfect thing to do on a Saturday afternoon.

Maybe it’s a bean.  More precisely, maybe it’s kidney beans.

Plated - edited

It’s no secret that I love beans and I generally find kidney beans to be my go-to favorite.  They’re accessible, adaptable, and appetizing, for sure, but I’ll admit that I often combine them with the same sorts of flavors in the same sorts of ways.  This means that while I always enjoy them, they tend to sort of taste the same each time.

And then this dish happened and my expectation of how kidney beans could be prepared was completely turned upside down.

Filling - edited

Instead of my traditional kidney bean thinking, which generally means pairing them with the flavors of Mexico, the Southwest, or sometimes, India, this dish paired the beans up with flavors more reminiscent of Europe, likely France.

Who knew??

I fell in love with this dish and with kidney beans all over again.  An old friend, feeling like a new discovery.

Note:  I loved this just as is described below and found the flavors of the marjoram, Dijon, and parsley to be flavorful, bright, and absolutely tantalizing.  Mr. Move Eat Create, however, felt the dish really came to life for him when he drizzled a bit of white vinegar over his portion and mixed it in, adding a bit of bite to the overall flavor.  Perhaps you could try a bit both ways and see for yourself.

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A French Influenced Cabbage & Kidney Bean Bake Cooked in skillet 2 - edited

Adapted a bit from Wheat Free Meat Free

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

  •  ¾ cup gluten free bread crumbs (about 2 slices of gluten free bread chopped in food processor if making from scratch) OR you can sub  corn meal if bread crumbs aren’t available
  • 1 tblspn nutritional yeast
  • ¼ tspn cayenne pepper
  • ½ tblspn olive oil
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 smallish head of green cabbage, sliced thinly (about 5 cups shredded)
  • 2 small red peppers (I used cherry bomb peppers) plus 1 medium green pepper ( I used Anaheim) OR sub for 1 large bell pepper
  • 1 tspn salt
  • 2 15oz cans of dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tblspn fresh marjoram, diced
  • ½ tspn dried parsley
  • ¼ tspn black pepper
  • 2 tblspns Earth Balance
  • 2 tblspns gluten free flour
  • 1 ½ cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tblspns Dijon mustard
  • white vinegar, optional

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. If making bread crumb from scratch, go ahead and chop those in your food processor.  Combine fresh or store bought bread crumbs (or cornmeal) with nutritional yeast and cayenne pepper in a small bowl.  Mix well and set aside.
  3. Warm a cast iron skillet or other large non-stick pan over medium-high heat.  Add oil.  When warm, add onion and celery and sauté, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until the onion starts to brown and lightly caramelize.
  4. Next add the cabbage, peppers and salt.  Cook, stirring often, for about 7 minutes, until the cabbage has cooked down and softened.
  5. Add beans, marjoram, parsley, and black pepper and stir well so that all elements are combined.  Remove from heat and set aside.
  6. To make the sauce, melt the Earth Balance in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the flour to the melted butter and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the mixture starts to brown and become smooth.
  7. Add the vegetable broth and mustard to the sauce and cook for 2-3 more minutes, stirring frequently until the sauce is smooth and well combined.
  8. If you were using a cast iron skillet that you can bake your dish in, great!  If not, transfer bean and veggie mixture to an oven-safe dish (coated lightly with cooking spray).  Pour sauce over beans and vegetables and mix in so that everything is coated.  Pat down with the back of your spoon and then sprinkle your bread crumb mixture evenly over the top of the dish.  Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.  Optional: serve with vinegar over individual portions

Recipe: Cajun Kidney Bean Casserole with Jalapeno Cornbread Topping

For a long while, I associated Cajun food with the sea.  Fish, crustaceans, and other sea creatures always seemed to be involved in any Cajun meal.  Even before I was a vegetarian, I didn’t care for seafood, so Cajun cuisine was something I long avoided.  Something else I shyed away from was cornbread.  Despite my affinity for carbs and bread products in general, most cornbreads I had sampled were sweet – the kind with lots of added sugar or honey and that wasn’t for me.  For these reasons, when I came across a recipe for a Cajun casserole with a cornbread topping in my Everyday Happy Herbivore cookbook,  I was excited at the prospect of trying a Cajun dish and I figured I could tweak the cornbread topping to ensure it was a slightly spicy, not sweet, rendition that would suit my tastes.

cornbread casserole ind piece 4 - edited

I did make a few changes to the original recipe and was more than pleased with the results.  First, let’s take a look at the main part of this dish which is comprised of fairly traditional Cajun flavors.  You’ve got your feature players: beans, tomatoes, bell peppers, and carrots.  All good stuff.  All good stuff that is then brought together happily with a flavorful seasoning blend and  lots of garlic.  This on its own would make for a delicious meal, but it gets even better.

Because then, you see, comes the cornbread topping.

cornbread casserole 2 polaroid edit

As someone who dismissed cornbread for years, it’s funny now how I’ve come to crave it.  I will at times make or request a whole meal solely because it is something that would be served nicely alongside cornbread.  The thing that really excites me about this cornbread is that I wasn’t sure if a quality cornbread topping could be made that was tasty, satisfying, still relatively nutritious, and low in fat, but it was!  I’m sure that you can imagine how pleased I was to discover that this is indeed possible.

Here is the final product.  I present to you a truly hearty dish that oozes the flavors of the south and, served alongside a nice salad, provides a well-balanced, complete meal.

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Cajun Casserole with Jalapeno Cornbread Topping

Adapted from The Everyday Happy Herbivore Cookbook

Serves 6

 

Ingredients: cornbread casserole ind piece 3  - edited

For the Base

* ½ tblspn olive oil

* 1 small onion, diced

* 1 medium carrot, diced

* 2 celery stalks, diced

* 4 cloves of garlic, minced

* 1 bell pepper, diced (I used red)

* 15 oz can diced fire-roasted tomatoes, drained

* 1 ½ tblspn Cajun seasoning blend

* 15 oz can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

For the Cornbread Topping

  •  1 ½ cup cornmeal
  • 2 ¼ tspn baking powder
  • ¼ tspn salt
  • 1 tspn sugar (more if you like a sweet cornbread – I don’t)
  • 1 ½ tspn dried oregano
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 1 cup + 2 tblspns unsweetened almond milk (or the type of milk of your choosing)
  • 6 tblspns unsweetened applesauce

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Coat a 3 quart casserole dish with cooking spray.
  2. Heat oil in a skilled over medium-high heat.  Add onion, celery, carrot, and bell pepper and sauté until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and sauté about 1-2 minutes longer.
  3. Mix in drained tomatoes, Cajun seasoning blend, and drained kidney beans.  Stir to combine well.  Pour base into the casserole dish.  Using a spatula or spoon, spread evenly and pat it down, so it is even and compact.  Set aside while you prepare the cornbread topping mixture.
  4. Whisk together cornmeal, baking powder, salt, oregano, and sugar.
  5. Add almond milk and applesauce.  Stir to combine.  Then, toss in the diced jalapeno pieces and gently stir to distribute throughout the batter.
  6. Pour cornbread batter on top of the base layer and spread evenly.  Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until the cornbread topping is golden and beginning to crack.  Remove from oven and let sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes before serving.  Serve with hot sauce, if desired.