Summer Bean Ratatouille and Simple Arugula Salad

Kaki, this completes the vegan feast that is Peter Berley’s Portobello Mushrooms with Breadcrumb Salsa, Summer Bean Ratatouille and Simple Arugula Salad.  It is a fantastically tasty and filling meal for summer.

I did have two issues with this ratatouille.  Only one is the fault of the recipe: the final step of straining the ratatouille and reducing the liquid to a glaze is brilliant, except that my strainer was barely, barley able to hold all of the ratatouille, and there was certainly an amount of spilling that had to be dealt with.  The other was the fault of my beans: where Berley states the beans should be done with 40 minutes total cooking, and I have cooked purple hull beans to smooth, wonderful creaminess in that time before, after almost an hour and a half my beans were still crunchy.  Sigh, will have to give it another go another time, or simply take the option suggestion of using canned pinto beans.

But that isn’t to say this ratatouille is bad.  It’s actually quite good.  With canned beans and maybe a larger strainer, I will definitely make this again.

The arugula salad is, as the name implies, very simple, just arugula and a quick, easy, mustard vinaigrette.  But given how much is going on with the rest of the meal, the simplicity and freshness of this salad is welcome.

P1020841

Summer Bean Ratatouille
Adapted from The Flexitarian Table by Peter Berley
Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh shell beans, such as cranberry beans, black-eye peas, or purple hull beans, shelled; or 1 15-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, divided
  • 1 bay leaf, if using fresh beans
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large Vidalia onion, or 2 medium red onions, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 15-ounce cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 1-pound eggplant, diced in 1-inch cubes
  • 2 red bell peppers, diced in 1-inch pieces
  • 1 sprig fresh parsley
  • 1 pound zucchini, diced in 1-inch pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup red wine

If using fresh beans: In a large pot, combine the fresh beans, 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, the bay leaf, and enough water to cover by 1-inch.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer.  Simmer, partially covered, for 15-20 minutes*, adding more water as needed for the beans to remain covered.  Then season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, and simmer another 10 minutes uncovered.  Drain any remaining liquid from the beans, which should now be completely soft.  Discard the bay leaf.

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions, cumin seeds, 2 teaspoons salt, and saute for about 10 minutes.  The onions should get very soft, but turn the heat down if they begin to brown.

Add the tomatoes, eggplant, bell pepper, parsley sprig, and remaining dried thyme.  Stir to incorporate all ingredients, then cover and simmer 8 minutes, stirring after 4 minutes.  Add the zucchini, garlic, red pepper flakes, wine, and beans.  Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer another 15-20 minutes, until all vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.

Pour the ratatouille into another large pot with handles.  Place a very large strainer over the original, still warm pot or Dutch oven.  Pour the ratatouille into the strainer, so that the liquid drains into the original pot.  Let the ratatouille solids drain for 10 minutes.  Pour the ratatouille solids into the empty pot.  Fish out and discard the parsley sprig.

Bring the ratatouille liquid to a quick simmer over medium-high heat, until it reduces to a glaze (about 1/4 cup liquid), 8-10 minutes.  Pour the glaze over the ratatouille solids in the other pot, and turn to coat them in the glaze.  Serve with Portobello Mushrooms and Breadcrumb Salsa, and Simple Arugula Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Simple Arugula Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette
Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon (a pinch) salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon (a pinch, or about 15 cranks of a pepper mill) freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 ounces (or 6 large handfuls) arugula

In a pint mason jar with a lid, combine all the ingredients except the arugula.  Put the lid on the jar and shake vigorously for 20-30 seconds, until it becomes a uniform, fully emulsified texture.  Place the arugula in a very large mixing bowl.  Pour over about a quarter of the dressing, and toss the arugula.  If it appears dry, continue to add small amounts of dressing, tossing the arugula frequently to coat in the dressing and avoid over-dressing.  Divide among 6 plates and serve.

*Again, mine took much, much longer.  I might let them go as long as they needed to be creamy at this stage, since it will be harder to correct undercooked beans at later stages of the dish.

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