For my first vegan recipe post, I’d like to introduce you to a recipe that is as healthy as it is delicious … meet Tuscan Beans with Sundried Tomatoes.
Among the dozens of Italian bean dishes, this one stands out as the most delicious I’ve had in a while. I discovered this recipe in my favorite vegan cookbook, The Vegan Table, by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.
Here’s the recipe:
Heat one tbsp. olive oil in a large-size sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add a large chopped yellow onion and cook, stirring, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add 3 thinly sliced zucchini and cook for 5 minutes longer. Add 3 minced garlic cloves, 3 cups of fresh spinach, 4 cups of cooked small white beans (Northern or navy … and make sure they are tender but not mushy), 1 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes (reconstituted or packed in olive oil), 1 cup water, ½ tsp. ground sage, salt and black pepper to taste and ½ tsp. red pepper flakes, stirring to combine. Salt to taste, and cook for 10 minutes longer. Stir in 1/3 cup of fresh basil and serve right away.
I like to serve this dish with crusty whole grain bread or over some polenta. You may also serve your Tuscan beans with veggies as pictured above. In the above picture, you can see that I served the beans with kale and tomatoes. The kale, I just steamed, chopped coarsely, mixed with avocado, drizzled with olive oil, lemon juice and sprinkled with kosher salt. I made the tomato salad using organic vine-ripened tomatoes that I chopped coarsely, olive oil and kosher salt.
Beans are a nutritional powerhouse. Small white beans, such as navy or Northern, are chock-full of folate, fiber, protein and many other phytonutrients. Among their health benefits, beans prevent constipation and digestive disorders through their rich fiber content, reduce heart attack risk by a whopping 82% when consumed regularly, stabilize blood sugar levels (perfect for diabetics or pre-diabetics), replenish iron stores, increase energy, disarm free radicals in the body (that cause cancer), maintain brain cell/cognitive function and provide tons of protein.
Kale is another nutritional giant; though, if not prepared properly, its bitterness, due to its high mineral content, might traumatize an unwitting palate. On the ANDI scale (Aggregate Nutrient Density Index), which has been implemented at Whole Foods stores nationwide and measures foods’ nutritional density on a scale of 0 to 1000, kale receives a score of 1000! Kale has so many nutritional accolades that it would be impossible to list them all. Among its myriad of health benefits, kale helps to prevent various cancers, detoxifies cells, lowers cataract risk and improves vision health, promotes lung health, strengthens immunity, protects against rheumatoid arthritis, helps in energy production, is a great source of fiber, calcium, and a whole range of vitamins. Recent research shows that kale provides significant cardiovascular benefits as well. It seems that kale does a little of everything nutritionally … think of it as a jack of all trades veggie!
Tomato and its friend Olive, oil, that is, are a great pair. Adding olive oil to your tomatoes helps you to absorb more of the very important lycopene found in tomatoes, since lycopene is fat-soluble. Research on tomatoes shows many benefits of lycopene including benefits in bone health, sun protection, skin aging, male prostate and fertility and asthma, among others.
Therefore, enjoy those yummy beans, tomatoes and greens. Here's to your health!