Erase the ravages of the weekend and all that overindulging by whipping up a big batch of butternut black bean stew. This stew rings all the healthy bells and whistles; vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, low fat, but tasteless its not. In fact it’s amazing how satisfying hearty beans and squash are combined with a few well-chosen spices. Of course, it’s a home cooks prerogative to mix it up a bit too. Here are the secrets…
About dried beans: There are lots of reasons why dried beans are better than canned. Quit simply, dried beans taste better. By soaking dried beans, you control the consistency and the salt content. It’s not a big deal to soak beans and even at the last minute, it’s possible (see below for ‘traditional’ and ‘quick’ soaking methods).
Wrestling the squash: Butternut squash is also known as “winter” squash because of the sturdy appearance. It’s actually grown year around, but the tough outer rind makes it hearty enough to thrive in the cold winter months too. Use a vegetable peeler, not a knife, to remove the rind. The rest, chopping and seeding is easy.
Add-ins: Use this stew recipe as a backbone to build in even more flavor. For meat lovers, add diced chicken, ground beef, sliced sausage of any kind even a chopped up ham steak. To make a heartier stew, add a ½ cup of rice or tiny pasta like orzo along with an extra cup of water. Add shredded Cheddar and a dollop of sour cream for a finishing touch.
- 1 cup dried black beans
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 14 oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes
- 2 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
- 32 oz. vegetable broth
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Bean soaking: Place beans in water, covered by 2 inches. The traditional way is to cover and soak 8 hours to overnight. The quick way is to boil for 1 minute and set aside for 1 hour. Either way yields the same results.
- In a large pot over medium heat, sauté onions in oil until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, chili powder, paprika and oregano and cook 1 more minute. Add tomatoes, squash, broth and beans and turn up the heat. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer. Cook about 1 hour until beans and squash are tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Please allow time to soak the beans overnight.