While spending the weekend glamping in Yosemite I made what’s called my Rustic Goddess Menu: Tomato Couscous with Capers, Rustic White Bean Casserole with Mushrooms and a Sage Bread Crumb Topping, Broccoli-Potato Soup with Fresh Herbs, and Berry-Coconut Crisp <3
TOMATO COUSCOUS WITH CAPERS
Serves 4 to 6
With just a few extra ingredients, regular old couscous transforms into a pretty pilaf that goes perfectly with any French, Spanish, or Italian main dish. After all the ingredients are measured and prepped, this side dish can be put together in less than 15 minutes.
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups whole wheat couscous (uncooked)
2 tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp ground cloves (optional)
Generous pinch cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons small capers, drained of brine (if using large capers, chop coarsely)
IN a medium-size bowl, strain the juice from the diced tomatoes to measure 1 1/2 cups of juice, squeezing the diced tomatoes as much as possible to remove their excess liquid. Discard any remaining juice, if not enough juice is available to total 1 1/2 cups, add either vegetable broth or water. Gently crush any large chunks of diced tomatoes and set aside.
Combine the juice, olive oil, and oregano in a medium-size saucepan. Cover and heat to medium-high, to bring to a boil. Stir continuously as you pour in the couscous in a steady stream. Quickly stir in the salt, cayenne, and cloves. Stir to combine, turn off heat, cover the pan, and allow it to sit for 5 minutes, or until the liquid is completely absorbed. Fold in the reserved diced tomatoes and capers, cover again, and allow to sit for 2 to 3 minutes to warm the tomatoes.
RUSTIC WHITE BEANS WITH MUSHROOMS
Serves 6 to 8
These are simple, homey, French-inspired, stick-to-your-ribs beans for early autumn days. The tarragon and leeks really shine through the mild white beans, and the mushrooms ass a chewy bite. This recipe is made with dried beans; canned beans can be substituted, so plan accordingly and soak the beans overnight or in the morning. For a real treat, prepare the casserole-style variation that follows: a delectable layer of buttery, herbed bread crumbs tops the beans and then the whole thing is baked to golden-brown perfection.
2 cups dried white beans, soaked for 8+ hours
1 small onion, peeled & sliced in half
1 stalk celery, cut in two pieces
1 small carrot, cut in half lengthwise
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp dried tarragon, or 2 tbsp fresh
1/4 cup olive oil
2 large cloves minced garlic
1 large leek, sliced thinly
1/2 pound (about 2 generous cups) mushrooms, either cremini, shiitake, or oyster, or a combination, rinsed & sliced thinly
1 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste Freshly ground pepper
DRAIN AND rinse the beans and transfer them to a big pot. Add 4 cups of cold water and bring to a boil for about 3 minutes. Skim off white foam from the top. Cover the pot and lower the heat to medium; add the onion, celery, carrot, thyme, & tarragon.
Simmer for about 45 minutes, until the beans are very tender. Remove onion, carrot, & celery (either discard or use in stock). Lower heat to low and continue to simmer while preparing the remaining vegetables. The beans should be thick like a stew, not a soup. If there’s too much liquid, leave the pot uncovered and stir occasionally.
About 10 minutes before the beans are done, place the garlic & 2 tbsp olive oil in a cold skillet. Heat the skillet over medium heat, allowing the garlic to sizzle for about 30 seconds. Add the chopped leek & saute until soft, 1 to 2 minutes. Scrape the leeks into beans. Add the remaining 2 tbsp of oil (or a little less), allow it to warm for about 30 seconds, and add the mushrooms. Sprinkle the mushrooms lightly with 1/2 tsp salt and saute until most of the mushroom liquid has evaporated, anywhere from 8 and 12 minutes depending on the kind of mushroom. When most of the excess liquid is gone, add the mushrooms to the beans. Turn off the heat & season the beans with remaining salt & pepper. Allow the beans to stand for about 10 minutes before serving.
I made it into a Crumb-Topped Casserole: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the cooked bean mixture unto a 2-quart casserole dish and top with Sage Bread Crumbs (recipe below), and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the bread crumbs are golden and the beans are bubbling.
SAGE BREAD CRUMBS
2 1/2 cups bread crumbs, preferable fresh and homemade (made from about half a baguette or four dinner rolls)
1/3 cup walnut pieces, chopped until resembling coarse crumbs
1/4 cup vegan margarine
2 teaspoons dried, rubbed sage
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground paprika
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
BROCCOLI-POTATO SOUP WITH FRESH HERBS
Serves 6 to 8
This vibrant soup is a great start to a Mediterranean meal. Try it our way with fresh dill and mint, but keep in mind that it’s also really versatile. So if the day should come when all you’ve got is some potatoes, onions, and garlic, you can use this recipe as a guideline and add the herbs and spices of your choice.
1 medium-size onions, cut into 1/4 inch dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
Several pinches of freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
6 cups vegetable stock, or 4 cups veggie stock plus 2 cups water, whatever
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
4 cups chopped broccoli (including the stalks: chop them into thin slices, and the tops into small florets)
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint