Fall weather is here! I love fall, it is my favorite season. I love fall food: soups, stews, braises, I am a huge college football fan (Go Maize & Blue!), I would live in jeans year round if I could, and I love that in between weather that is pleasant to walk in, no sweating and no shivering. I also love knowing the holidays are coming. Yes I am one of those people, whose tree goes up over Thanksgiving and who can be found humming holiday music for far longer than 2-3 weeks.
I especially love late September and early October because at my house, the field behind our yard (we only mow so far, that is “the yard”) becomes a riot of purple, white and yellow flowers. My mom could tell you exactly what wildflowers they are (ironweed? daisies? goldenrod maybe? some other white flowers I don’t know), but it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that all that color is everywhere–and requires no work. The spot shown above is actually a bit of a clearing–that is my mom’s Giant Schnauzer puppy hiding in the “weeds.” But you can see the flowers stretching out behind him.
This is one of those recipes I hesitate to share. Truly everything about it is “to taste,” which ends up being not much of a recipe. I guess it is more of a blueprint. Pick a dried bean, any bean, and cook it. Pick some aromatics and veggies, some spices. Throw in some peanut butter and eat it over rice. Really, it is that easy. Just keep tasting, and you are bound to end up with something delicious. This time of year it is so easy to go still go local, with the last of the corn, tomatoes, zucchini, onions, garlic, peppers, winter squash….
- 2 cups dried kidney beans
- 1 chopped onion
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 t salt
- 1-2 T vegetable oil
- 2 chopped onions
- 6-8 cloves garlic minced
- 2 sweet bell peppers chopped
- cider vinegar to deglaze
- 1 T ground cumin
- 1 1/2 t ground coriander
- 1/2 t ground chipotle
- 1 t ground ancho
- 1 small butternut squash peeled and cut into bite sized chunks
- 2 medium-large tomatoes chopped
- kernels from 3 ears of corn
- 1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
- beans including liquid
- 1/4 cup brown sugar to taste
- 3 small-medium zucchini cut into half-moons
- cider vinegar to taste
- salt and pepper to taste
- chopped peanuts for garnish
Start the night before by soaking the beans in cold water. Make sure they are covered by at least 2 inches of water.
The next day, dump the beans (I use the soaking water--this is your preference) into a 4 quart heavy sauce pan with enough water to cover by 2 inches and bring to a boil. Add the single chopped onion and 4 cloves of minced garlic. Let it boil for about 5 minutes, and then cover and reduce the heat to maintain the barest simmer. Check every hour or so to add water to keep the beans covered by 2 inches.
When the beans are tender, add 1 teaspoon of salt, cover, and turn off the heat. Begin preparing the stew.
Heat a large (I use a 7 quart--this recipe makes a lot) Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the oil and heat until it is shimmering, then add the 2 chopped onions with a pinch of salt. Let them cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly caramelized, about 10-15 minutes. Add the 6-8 cloves of minced garlic and the chopped bell peppers and cook another 5 minutes. By now, the vegetables may be starting to stick a bit. Add a splash or 2 of cider vinegar to deglaze the pan and cook until the liquid has boiled off (add it even if it is not sticking because the flavor it contributes is tremendous).
Add the spices and the butternut squash and stir to distribute the spices evenly. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the corn kernels and bring to a boil. Add the peanut butter and mix until it has dissolved into a sauce. Add the cooked kidney beans with the cooking liquid. Add the brown sugar, to taste, with a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the butternut squash is fork tender.
About 10 minutes before you think the butternut squash will be ready, add the zucchini to the pot (add it late so that it does not become too mushy). Right before serving, taste for additional spices, brown sugar, or cider vinegar (I think I added more of all of those). Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and serve over rice.