TASTE OF TUSCANY - WHITE BEANS AND SPELT

 

Who says beans are boring?  Well, if you just boil them in water, yeh, ok, maybe.  But with my special blend of spices, and cooked with a sautéed onion, these recipe variations will transport you straight to Italy!

This meal works brilliantly as a stand-alone, heart-healthy Tuscan Stew (pictured below) or a fusion of risotto-style cooking with classic caprese salad flavors (pictured above).

 

It's also a great 'base' for sautéed veggies you might otherwise serve over pasta.  The leftovers are lovely in omelets or on a pizza.  So make it once, and enjoy it several days, several ways!

PREP TIME:  10 min

 

COOK TIME:

Conventional Method 2+ hours on the stove

Wonderbag Method 35 min on the stove; 3+ hours in the bag

SERVES:  4 as a main, 8 as a side

INGREDIENTS
FOR COOKING

  • 300 g package of Taste of Tuscany White Beans & Spelt

  • 3 Tbsp (45 ml) olive oil

  • 2 yellow onions, diced

  • 2 cups (500 ml) water

  • Salt and pepper

INGREDIENTS
INGREDIENTS

300 g Taste of Tuscany package, onion, olive oil and water.

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FOR SERVING INSPIRATIONS

 

WARM "CAPRESE" CASSOULET

  • 300 g cherry tomatoes, cut in half

  • 50 g shredded parmesan cheese

  • 3 cups (75 g) fresh spinach, chopped

  • 50 g fresh basil, finely chopped

  • 150 g buffalo mozzarella, cut into bite-size pieces

SERVING INGREDIENTS
SERVING INGREDIENTS

For warm 'Caprese' Cassoulet add cherry tomatoes, spinach, buffalo mozzarella, basil & (not pictured) parmesan cheese

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TUSCAN BEAN STEW

  • Fresh basil

  • Shredded parmesan cheese

 

ARRABIATTA-INSPIRED CHILI BOWL

  • 300 g cherry tomatoes, quartered

  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced

  • 3 TBSP (45 ml) olive oil

  • 6 cups (150 g) fresh spinach, finely chopped

  • Shredded parmesan cheese

  • Fresh basil, finely chopped

 

PESTO BOWL

  •  2 cups (10.5 oz/300 g) mushrooms, sliced

  • 1-2 cloves garlic, finely minced

  • 3 TBSP (45 ml) olive oil

  • 2-3 TBSP pesto sauce, homemade or store bought

  • Fresh basil

  • Parmesan cheese, shredded

PREPARATION:  SOAK OVERNIGHT

THE NIGHT BEFORE COOKING, remove the spice packet from the packaging and set aside.

 

Soak the beans and spelt in a generous amount of water for 8-12 hours.

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS
CONVENTIONAL METHOD

 

1)  Drain and rinse your soaked beans and spelt.  Sort through to make sure there are no little stones.

 

2)  In a 1 ½ quart (2 litre) pot, saute onions in 3 TBSP (45ml) olive oil for 5 minutes.

 

3)  Stir in the contents of the spice packet, your drained beans & spelt, and the water.  Bring to a boil.

 

4)  Reduce heat to the lowest setting and simmer for 1.5 to 2 hours, stirring every 20 minutes.

 

5)  You may need to add more water due to evaporation.  Keep the temperature as low as possible to avoid the beans turning into 'mush' when stirred.

 

6) Salt to taste AFTER cooking.

WONDERBAG METHOD

 

1)  Drain and rinse your soaked beans and spelt.  Sort through to make sure there are no little stones.

 

2)  In a 1 ½ quart (2 litre) pot, saute onions in 3 TBSP (45ml) olive oil for 5 minutes.

 

3)  Stir in the contents of the spice packet, your drained beans & spelt, and the water.  Bring to a boil.

 

4)  Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 25 minutes.

 

5)  Seal your lidded pot in the Wonderbag and leave it to cook for a minimum of 3 hours (best to leave it 6-7 hours, or all day, the flavours develop the longer you leave it and your beans will not overcook nor turn to mush!).

 

6) Salt to taste AFTER cooking.

SERVING INSPIRATIONS

WARM CAPRESE "RISOTTO"

 

Mix cooked Taste of Tuscany with havled cherry tomatoes, chopped spinach, fresh basil and paremesaen cheese.

 

Spoon into individual serving bowls and top with buffalo mozzarella, garnish with more fresh basil.

WARM "CAPRESE" CASSOULET
WARM "CAPRESE" CASSOULET

Served with tomatoes, chopped spinach, buffalo mozzarella, parmesan cheese and basil.

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TUSCAN BEAN STEW

For a heart-healthy, warming stew straight out of the pot, salt & pepper to taste, then ladle into bowls and garnish with shredded parmesan cheese and fresh basil.

Simply top with fresh basil and shredded parmesan cheese.

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ARRABBIATA-INSPIRED CHILI BOWL

In a large frying pan, sauté cherry tomatoes and garlic in olive oil for 4 minutes.

 

Add chopped spinach leaves and stir until the spinach wilts (about 1 minute). 

 

Drain the beans and spelt and add to the pan with the tomato & spinach mixture.  Salt to taste.

 

Spoon into bowls and garnish with shredded parmesan cheese and fresh basil.

WITH FRESH TOMATOES & SPINACH
WITH FRESH TOMATOES & SPINACH

Packaged cooked with sautéed onion; To serve, sauté cherry tomatoes, diced garlic and chipped spinach for a few minutes. Stir in the cooked beans and spelt and garnish with parmesan cheese and fresh basil.

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PESTO BOWL WITH SAUTEED MUSHROOMS

WITH MUSHROOMS & PESTO SAUCE
WITH MUSHROOMS & PESTO SAUCE

Packaged cooked with sautéed onion; To serve, sauté mushrooms then stir in the cooked beans and spelt along with some fresh pesto sauce and garnish with parmesan cheese and fresh basil.

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In a large frying pan, sauté sliced mushrooms and minced garlic in olive oil for 6-7 minutes.

 

Drain the beans and spelt and add to the pan with the mushrooms.

 

Stir in a few tablespoons of your favorite pesto sauce and salt to taste.

 

Spoon into bowls and garnish with shredded parmesan cheese and fresh basil

LOVE YOUR LEFTOVERS:  TUSCAN PIZZA

Bake a whole wheat tortilla in the oven at 350F/180c for 6-8 minutes to crisp it up.

 

Remove from oven spread with tomato sauce, cooked Taste of Tuscany beans and grain, and toppings of choice.

 

Bake for 8-10 min.  Yummy!

LOVE YOUR LEFTOVERS PIZZA
LOVE YOUR LEFTOVERS PIZZA

Toast a whole wheat tortilla on 180c/350F for 6-8 minutes to make it crisp; Spread with tomato sauce, cooked beans and spelt, and topping of choice (photo shows cottage cheese, buffalo mozzarella, chopped basil and shredded parmesan). Bake for another 6-8 min until cheese melts and bubbles a bit. Garnish with more fresh basil.

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LOVE YOUR LEFTOVERS:  TUSCAN OMELET

LOVE YOUR LEFTOVERS OMELET
LOVE YOUR LEFTOVERS OMELET

Fill an omelet with sautéed onion, parmesan cheese, cherry tomatoes, then top with chopped chives.

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Fill an omelet with sautéed onion, parmesan cheese, cherry tomatoes and a few spoonfuls of your leftover cooked beans.  Top with fresh chives as desired.

 

This will see you through your morning, and then some!!

DETAILED HOW-TO VIDEO

Click below to see the start-to-finish process and explanations

Recipe & Photo Credit:  Cathy Menees

Video Credits:  Hannah Menees and Sierra Bonilla

COOK'S NOTES

INGREDIENTS

 

Beans and spelt are both 'sturdy' foods, full of fibre and goodness, but also 'sturdy' to cook.  It's important to soak them at least 12 hours...24 hours is also ok.

COOKING

 

Avoid cooking beans in salted water, nor with acidic foods such as tomatoes, wine, vinegar, lemon juice etc.  They will NOT soften.  Always add your salt and tomatoes/condiments after cooking.

KITCHEN BUDDIES

 

You can of course cook beans and wheat berries on the stove for the full time...but the reason the Wonderbag is your best friend here is that beans can be tricky and easily turn into a mushy paste if you don't watch them - and it's easy to forget because they take a bit of time.

 

The Wonderbag takes the worry out of the cooking.  Magically, you can leave the beans for 3 hours or 10 hours and they will not be overcooked or mushy.  They will maintain their texture and bite, so you can mix them with anything you want without ever ending up with 'bean dip' (i.e. paste).

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