Is there such a thing as transitional comfort food? If I had to illustrate comfort food, it would be a hearty bowl of gooey, cheesy carbs enjoyed by the fireside during winter (cacio e pepe comes to mind!) It sure is a cliché, but frankly, I’m happy the cold season provides the excuse to indulge in such delightful meals. When spring comes around, I’m eager to switch up our menu to include fresher flavors—yet winter makes a slow stage exit in Quebec City, often offering us an April snowstorm as a parting present. This is exactly when the need for “transitional” comfort food comes in: dishes that will warm us up without making us feel like we’ve given up on spring.
This Cannellini Bean and Kale Stew fit into that category perfectly. Inspired by risotto, the dish is vegetarian, carb-free, yet hearty, thanks to the use of good-for-you cannellini beans. You’ll prepare this stew much like you would a risotto: by first frying shallots and garlic in oil, then evaporating white wine for flavor, adding kale instead of rice, then simmering it all with white beans and vegetable stock—no continuous stirring required!
The genius step comes at the end when you use a masher or a fork to mash about half of the cannellini beans straight into the pan. The beans will thicken the stew and give it a rich texture. Stirring in Parmigiano Reggiano adds delightful depth, and the sprinkling of lemon gremolata makes it super fresh and bright. If you want to keep this Cannellini Bean and Kale Stew vegan, skip the parmesan cheese and sprinkle with nutritional yeast before serving, instead.
This Cannellini Bean and Kale Stew is perfect for those in-between periods in the spring or fall, or for cooler summer nights that justify turning on the stove. Serve with fresh, crusty bread to mop up every last bit of the stew’s rich-tasting broth.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
This transitional stew is perfect for those in-between periods in the spring or fall, or for cooler summer nights that justify turning on the stove. Serve with fresh, crusty bread to mop up every last bit of the stew’s rich-tasting broth.
15 minPrep Time
25 minCook Time
40 minTotal Time
For the stew: Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan or braiser set over medium heat. Add the shallots and celery, and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the wine, bring to a boil and cook until almost evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add half of the kale and cook, stirring to mix the flavorings in, until it starts to wilt, about 3 minutes, then add the rest of the kale. Cook, stirring to combine, for about 3 minutes more. Add the cannellini beans and the broth and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat to the minimum, half-cover, and cook for 10 minutes.
Using a masher or a fork, mash about half of the cannellini beans straight into the pan. This is not an exact science; you can eye-ball it. You want the broth to thicken with the mashed beans, but still keep texture from some of them, too. If the steam coming out of the stew makes it hard to mash straight into the pan, transfer some of the stew in a large bowl or measuring cup, mash the beans, then return to the pan. Stir in the Parmigiano Reggiano, lemon juice, salt, and some black pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
For the gremolata: On a cutting board, coarsely chop the parsley. Using a Microplane, zest the lemon over the parsley, then grate the garlic. Sprinkle with the salt, and keep chopping, scraping the board from time to time to mix everything together and chop the parsley to a fine texture. Transfer to a small bowl.
Divide the piping hot stew between serving bowl, and generously sprinkle each portion with gremolata. Serve with crusty bread.
The stew reheats very well, though be aware that the color of the kale will fade a bit after the stew cools and is refrigerated. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. You can store the gremolata in a separate container for the same period of time.
Recipe Credit: Marie Asselin, FoodNouveau.com. Gremolata adapted from The Kitchn.
More Bright-Tasting, Yet Comforting Recipes