Braised Kale, Turnips, and Beans

So. For the past week, every time I’m in the kitchen at the same time as Chester, he’s been asking me of what I’m making: “is it vegan?” And I say, “Yes Chester, its vegan… until I add the cheese!!!” To which he says… “NOT VEGAN!” But it did make me think about what I cook. And my conclusion is that 90% of what I make could very well be vegan.. if I didn’t add the cheese. Or if I used oil instead of butter. Meaning that, I don’t feel like meat, dairy, or eggs are the main player in my meals – often I try to think of them as garnish. Now, if I’m making a quiche – I’m going to use eggs. Especially when the chicks start laying! But I know that pizza is just as good without cheese (I just happen to like it better with cheese). And that many times, the addition of non-vegan ingredients can definitely be omitted without being missed. So Chester, in honor of you, I decided that I would post something entirely vegan.. if only so I could say, “yes Chester, it IS VEGAN!! Leave me alone!” 🙂

Matt and I have both been getting lunch delivered once a week from Organic Living SB, a lunch delivery service that only uses local ingredients and accommodates any dietary restrictions. We both get the vegan option – for me, I like to see how other people use their creativity in cooking delicious meals that don’t involve meat. I’ve been really impressed so far! Last week, my lunch was a stir fry of cashews, broccoli and turnips over wild rice with a very subtle sauce. The turnips really surprised me – I actually liked them. Which is more than I can say for the vast majority of the experiences I’ve had cooking them. So I decided to get a bunch of turnips at the market, and see what I could do!

My search for inspiration as usual started out at Tastespotting, where I found a recipe for braised kale, white beans, and turnips (I will post the link below). It sounded like a nice combination, and since I also had picked up some heirloom dried beans at the market, and we always have kale in the garden, I decided to give it a go. In my vegan quest, I knew I could eliminate the bacon and chicken broth, and instead use vegetable broth and add a bit of extra salt. I think if I made it again, I would use less apple cider vinegar and sugar, but I may wait until tomorrow (like chili, apparently braised dishes taste better the second day) to make my final verdict.

Part two of my cooking adventure for the night involved a quick crusty bread. I knew I didn’t have time or patience for a yeasted bread, so instead I found a recipe for a beer bread from Farmgirl Fare – something I’ve never tried before, but promised crusty results. And even better- no eggs or butter in the batter! Done deal. I’ve come across Farmgirl Fare before, and I really like the concept- similar to my own, yet so much more detailed. A great resource! The bread turned out perfectly, too! I would imagine you could substitute fizzy seltzer water with the same result if you don’t want to use beer. Or, just go buy your favorite crusty bread…

Braised Kale, Turnips, and Beans (my modified version. For the original, see here)

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb Turnips, ends and tops trimmed off, cut into quarters about the size of your thumb
2 cups vegetable broth
Less than 1/8 cup Apple cider vinegar (or more, depending on taste)
2 cups cooked beans (I used the blue heirlooms, but white would be a great easy find)
1 to 1 1/2 large bunches of Kale, washed, stems discarded, and leaves roughly chopped
1/2 Tablespoon sugar (taste first, then add if you think you want it)
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 lemon, juiced
Salt and Pepper

Place a large heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Add olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, onion, and turnips to the pot. Stir and cook until the vegetables are softened and beginning to turn brown on the edges. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Pour the vegetable broth and apple cider vinegar into the pot, and stir while scraping the bottom to deglaze any browned bits stuck to the pot. Next add the beans and kale. Cover the pot with a lid and reduce the heat to medium-low. Braise the kale for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the leaves are tender and wilted and the turnips are cooked through.

Once the kale is tender, remove the lid and add the hot sauce and lemon juice. Stir and taste the liquid. Add salt, pepper and sugar (if desired). Turn off the heat and serve the braised kale with slices of thick crusty bread to sop up the liquid.

Beer Bread with Fresh Herbs (original recipe found here)

3 cups organic all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour)
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon baking powder

Several sprigs of oregano, rosemary, and thyme, snipped up
12 ounces beer (or seltzer water)

Optional glaze: 1 egg & 2 teaspoons water, beaten

Heat oven to 375°. Combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and herbs in a large mixing bowl. Slowly stir in beer and mix just until combined. Batter will be thick. Spread in a greased 8-inch loaf pan, brush with egg glaze if desired, and bake until golden brown and a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.

Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool 10 more minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Flavor note: Instead of herbs you could use a variety of other mix-ins. The original recipe has many ideas if you need inspiration!

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