Rustic white bean stew

For a yummy protein fix this stew is an excellent choice and great for lunch or evening meal. In this stew I use butter beans as they are tasty, low in calorie and really high in protein. You can use any white beans in this stew and cannellini and haricot beans work beautifully too. Packed full of vegetables this meal has 4 nutrient packed vegetables in one dish and will get you on your way to your 5 a day!

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Start by finely chopping a medium white onion and lightly sauté in a teaspoon of olive oil in a large cooking pan. There are some great ethical olive oils about these days, I use the Clearspring olive oil as it has great organic credentials but there are loads of options available. Add a clove of finely chopped garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes on a medium heat until the onion is soft.

At this point add 6 stalks of finely sliced celery and 3 finely chopped carrots into the pan with . I slice celery so they are still in little half moon shapes but quarter the carrots before slicing to keep the pieces small and delicate. I am really lucky that I’m not one of the unfortunate people allergic to celery as I really love the stuff and celery is full of loads of vitamins. Continue to warm through the onion, carrot and celery in the oil and garlic for a further 5 minutes. It is really lush and tempting watching the vegetable soften and cook as the colours become really bright and beautiful as they cook.

Roughly chop five large vine tomatoes and add these, skin and all in with the vegetables and then add 750ml of hot stock. I really love vine tomatoes as the flavour is really earthy and somehow a lot more tomato-ey than other tomatoes. Yum.

In terms of stock I use the Kallo organic vegetable stock cubes as unlike a lot of stock cubes they are completely suitable for coeliacs and they are organic and have a reduced salt option which I think is great. No more dicing with yukky gluten in a stock cube! I also add about 6 or 7 stalks of finely chopped coriander, just because I love coriander. From this point the cooking becomes super easy as it is just a question of popping a lid on the pan, making sure the hob is at a medium temperature and leaving to cook for about 45 minutes. I would like to pretend in this time I do something really useful with my time but instead I just play with my cats.

Ready cooked butter beans (and in fact chickpeas and other beans) make it so easy to be vegan or vegetarian as it allows you pack the protein into meals without hours of soaking and waiting. Add one can of drained butter beans and continue to cook for a further 30 minutes. Then voila, ready to serve.

Although this dish does take a little while to simmer and cook I promise it is well worth it as the taste is delicious, creamy without any cream and so full of veggies and beans it will really keep you going. Great for freezing and reheating for an excellent packed lunch too! It’s so good, I’m off to eat a big bowl-ful now.

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