I have an alarming amount of fun in my local grocery store.
It’s one of these food outlet deals, where they stock surplus goods from other grocery stores. You do have to be a little careful about expiration dates, and if you’re working from a strict list of needs … well, you probably shouldn’t. They’ll probably carry bread and milk every day, but don’t count on habañero–mango salsa or fresh ginger.
On the bright side, this now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t policy turns grocery shopping into a little adventure every week. They might have regular old chicken stock … or they might have a bunch of super-fancy organic free-range chicken stock for 50 cents a box. They might have your normal bagged spinach … or they might have a set of fancy bagged salads, croutons and dressing included, that will forever change the way you feel about kale.
A couple of weeks ago, I was prowling the aisles with my cart when I saw something new at the end of the bean/lentil/rice display: a whole carton of Great Northern beans.
I’ve been curating a slew of Great Northern bean recipes since forever, and now making some of them was actually within reach, thanks to some other store who ordered too many of them.
I tried to play it cool. I’m technically an adult, after all, even if I sometimes temporarily lose that card by, say, buying ridiculously cheap chocolate milk instead of regular, as I did today. But with those beans, I knew, my adult card would be sticking around a lot longer. They’ve got fiber, they’ve got protein, they’re low in cholesterol and calories and fat, and if you’ve been putzing around saying to yourself, “Boy, I’m feeling a little low in iron and potassium,” they’ve got you covered. To make them even more attractive, in this stew, they’re anything but bland. There’s red pepper flakes and paprika to give them a kick, Parmesan and the aid of a potato masher to make them creamy, and greens to boost their health quotient even further.
In short, if you’re looking for a way to keep your eating on the healthy side this holiday season, this stew is the perfect way to do that. And good news: If you start haunting your local outlet store today, you might be able to track down some Great Northerns by New Year’s.
White bean stew with Parmesan and greens
(adapted, barely, from How Sweet Eats)
- 2 T. olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. paprika
- 4 c. vegetable stock
- 4 c. water
- 2 c. dry white beans (I used Great Northern), soaked overnight
- 1 Parmesan rind (+ more to grate on top)
- 1 c. chopped kale
- 4 c. chopped spinach
- Heat olive oil in large stockpot over medium-low heat. Add onion and cook until soft. Add garlic, peppers, salt, and paprika, and cook until fragrant.
- Add stock and water. Raise heat to high until soup boils.
- Add beans and Parmesan rind. Reduce heat and simmer covered until beans are tender (between 30 minutes and 1 hour, depending on how long they soaked).
- Add greens and cover pot for a few minutes, or until greens are wilted. Stir to combine. Simmer uncovered until contents are thick enough to be called stew instead of soup.
- With potato masher, mash stew a few times. Serve with Parmesan grated on top and plenty of sourdough.