My fellow residents of the northeast will probably agree that it’s been a strange winter, weather-wise. On Friday, the temperature got above 50, and I had to take off my scarf and gloves on my bike ride home from work because I was overheating. Two days later of course, today, it’s back into the 20’s and the wind is whipping around at 26 miles an hour. It’s a perfect day to make a hearty winter stew-type dinner, and I have just the right recipe I’ve been wanting to try.
Edamam (not edamame/soybeans) may be one of my favorite discoveries of 2012. It’s a website (and an iphone app) that features over a million recipes, and you can search for certain ingredients and filter your results by diet or preference, such as “dairy-free” for example. I follow them on Facebook, and there’s always something delicious-looking popping up in my feed that I want to try. This week, I saw a recipe featured by Edamam that happens to come from one of my go-to food blogs, 101 Cookbooks, for Borlotti Bean Mole with Roast Winter Squash. I’ve always wanted to make mole sauce and my dad makes an amazing one, but every time he starts telling me how to make it, I remember how labor intensive it is, and think “maybe another time…” But this recipe sounded like a great way to get that mole flavor without your typical 20-30 ingredients and all-day time commitment (although this is not a quick fix meal, so if you’re like me, save it for a weekend).
Start by soaking 1 1/2 cups of dry borlotti beans (same as cranberry beans, or you can use pinto beans) overnight in a good sized pot or bowl filled with water. I actually didn’t plan far enough ahead and only soaked mine today for about 5 hours, but you can make up for it by simmering them a little longer. After they’ve soaked, rinse them, and bring them to a boil with water that covers them by about an inch. Then reduce the heat, cover, and let them simmer for about 45 minutes. It’s ok to have them be a little under-cooked because they’ll be in the oven later. Preheat the oven to 350. Peel and cube a winter squash of your choice (I used an acorn squash) and roast the cubes in a pan with olive oil until the edges are caramelized, about 20 minutes. Melt 2 tbsp butter (or use olive oil, or a combination of the two) into a heavy pot (if you have a pot that can go from stove to oven and has a lid, use that) and fry 1 medium chopped onion and 2-4 red jalapenos (depending how spicy you want it) that have been seeded and chopped, for about 20-30 minutes on low heat. Add 2 cloves of chopped garlic and fry for another 3 minutes. Then add a pound of fresh chopped plum tomatoes (or a 14 oz can- I like San Marzano) and 2 tsp of paprika. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 mins. Add an ounce of dark roasted almonds, ground (you can use a spice grinder, coffee grinder, or small food processor), 2 oz of 70% dark chocolate broken into pieces, 1 tsp salt, the beans & squash, and 4-5 large chopped kale leaves. Stir until the chocolate is melted. I also added a little water at this point because it became too thick to stir. If your casserole pot can go from stovetop to oven, just put the lid on and throw it in. If not (like me!), transfer what’s in your pot on the stovetop to an oven proof casserole dish, cover with tin foil, and bake for about 2 hours at 250.
Serving notes: I thought it definitely needed more salt at the end, and more heat – red pepper flakes, hot sauce, or your choice of spice. The beans really soak up the heat. The original recipe says to serve with tortillas, polenta, or mashed potatoes. I think mashed potatoes would be FAR too mushy for this already soft dish. We actually liked blue tortilla chips with it, to scoop with, and also crushed up on top to add a little texture. And as a side note, this is not the prettiest looking finished product, but not only is it delicious, but it also makes 4 big servings for just under $20! A bargain, plus leftovers!