Braise up

I’ve been taking advantage of my brief unemployment to do all of the things I never do when I’m working – going grocery shopping in the middle of the day, spending 5 hours waiting to have my picture taken at the DMV, actually using the daytime minutes on my cell phone, and cooking pounds and pounds of beans to stock the freezer. On Monday, I’ll return to my regularly scheduled programming, and I’m fairly sure that none of these things will be possible. Unless I have a hot plate in my new office.

We were out running errands the other day and stopped to eat lunch at a place that offered braised white beans as a side dish. I was all over that, until the waitress brought it out and warned me that there was chicken stock in it, and I had to part with it for some (delicious) roasted veg. But I literally couldn’t stop thinking about braised beans, so I ended up making my own.

braised white beans with kale + baked sweet potato

That picture is seriously terrible. But the meal was great. Especially after a fun-filled day at the DMV.

I did this as kind of a dry run for tonight’s lucky New Year’s main dish – braised black-eyed peas and collards.

prosperity in a bowl

Braised Beans and Greens (serves 4)

You need

  • Olive oil
  • Several cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2-3 cups of cooked beans (adjust based on your hunger level)
  • salt, pepper, crushed red pepper
  • 1/3-1/2 cup of liquid (water, vegetable broth, or a combo)
  • 1 lb greens

To do:

  1. Heat olive oil and garlic over medium heat in a large skillet (with a lid)
  2. When the garlic is fragrant and beginning to brown, add beans and liquid (for tonight’s meal I used a little leftover Prosecco from our NYE toast in addition to vegetable broth) and bring to a boil
  3. Add greens*, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper and give it all a good stir
  4. Cover and reduce heat to low for 10-15 minutes
  5. Uncover, increase heat (add a bit more liquid if needed), and cook over medium for 5 or so minutes

*If you’re using more delicate greens, wait until you uncover the pan to add them. I did this with the kale, and it was tender but still bright green and presumably all anti-oxidanty. Collards are a bit tougher and need to cook longer, so I put them in right after the beans.

After a few weeks of fairly erratic meals, it’s nice to get back into the habit of cooking meals I feel good about. Not that all those pizzas weren’t delicious, cookies for breakfast can be quite lovely, really. But sometimes it’s good to reset the system.

Happy new year!

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