Butter bean and juniper casserole

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Because I am an indolent cook and destalking thyme is a pain I leave the thyme leaves attached to the sprigs.  They usually fall off in the cooking and then you only need to fish out the denuded twigs.  I don’t do this with rosemary – the leathery leaves go everywhere and the texture isn’t good – so I chop the rosemary finely.

1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
1 mugful of bite size chunks of root veg: choose from potato, sweet potato, Swede turnip or Jerusalem artichokes
1 large carrot, sliced
1 large stick celery, sliced
1 tsp each ground cumin and coriander
½-1 tsp cayenne pepper
400g can butter beans (drained) or soak (overnight) 200g dried butter beans in water and boil til tender.
250 g tomatoes, chopped (fresh or tinned)
Large handful fresh thyme sprigs
6” sprig fresh rosemary, destalked and finely chopped (or you can leave the whole sprig in and then spend ages picking the annoying leathery leaves out when everything’s cooked)
150ml vegetable stock (I use 1 tsp of Vecon vegetable bouillon powder from health shops which is dead handy.  You could also use a Kallo vegetable stock cube).
5 juniper berries, lightly crushed
3 tbs fresh parsley, finely chopped (you can chop and keep in the freezer for easy use)

  • Add the oil, onion, garlic, potato/Jerusalem artichoke/turnip, carrot, celery and spices to a heavy bottomed saucepan or casserole, give everything a stir to mix with the oil and spices, put on the lid, and sweat for 5-10 mins until the onion is translucent but not brown. You might need to add a splash of water to stop everything browning.
  • Add the cooked beans, tomatoes, thyme sprigs, rosemary, stock, juniper berries, bring to the boil, cover with a lid and gently simmer till the vegetables are cooked.
  • Garnish with parsley.Serve with:
  • Steamed broccoli or a green salad dressed with a little olive oil and lemon juice
    PLUS (optional)
  • Quinoa grains – 11% protein so great with a beany dinner.  Its protein keeps added to the bean protein keeps you fuller for longer. Cook in twice its volume of boiling water in a covered saucepan – around 8-10 mins until it looks bobbley.
  • Brown rice (add a little turmeric to the water before cooking for a lovely golden colour)
  • Millet gains Don’t use millet or quinoa flakes unless you want to make a porridge!. When they are cooked they should look a little like couscous – light and fluffy.  Couscous is white flour devoid of nutrients so I don’t recommend it.

Why this is good for you:
Beans are a rich source of magnesium which you need for calm, sleep, clear skin, proper muscle and liver function and much much more. Stress, refined foods (sugar/white grains), alcohol, stimulants and smoking rob magnesium from your body.  Millet is also rich in magnesium. 

Fresh thyme, rosemary and spices are rich sources of phytochemicals (also called polyphenols or bioflavonoids).  These are natural antioxidants many times more powerful than vitamins and minerals.  Phytochemicals help reduce inflammation.  This helps prevent or relieve conditions like heart disease and any condition with an -itis – arthritis, dermatitis, bursitis etc.  It doesn’t help with work-itis, which I used to have in my old job!