I found some small red beans in the Turkish store near my house last week. I snapped them up, excited to add something a bit different to my usual rotation (black beans, cranberry beans, kidney beans, white beans, lentils, various kinds of dals, chickpeas, and split mung beans). I cooked up a big pot of red beans, then had to figure out how to make a full dinner out of them. I searched all my cookbooks for recipes for red beans (with the convenient eatyourbooks.com website) and found this 101cookbooks recipe for a farro and bean stew. Amazingly, I had (almost) all the ingredients.
The recipe looked pretty plain. It’s just veggies and beans and grains without any spices or herbs, not even garlic—the only seasoning is salt. So I decided to use the Bärlauch I had in the fridge to make a Bärlauch pesto. I tried to look up what Bärlauch is called in the states, and found a number of translations. Wikipedia says “Allium ursinum – known as ramsons, buckrams, wild garlic, broad-leaved garlic, wood garlic, bear leek or bear’s garlic – is a wild relative of chives native to Europe and Asia.” It’s a broad, bright green leaf that tastes strongly of garlic, and (as I discovered this week) lasts quite a long time in the fridge! I had it in a plastic bag in the fridge all week and it didn’t seem at all the worse for the waiting.I had to make a few changes to the original recipe. I didn’t have any onions so I used two leeks instead (all but the darkest green parts), as well as a quite large spoonful of chopped garlic. I was out of farro so instead of 2 cups of farro I used about 1/4 cup of barley and 3/4 cup of Grünkern, a green (unripe) spelt that’s quite popular here in Germany. I didn’t have any kale so I used the leaves from one medium bunch of chard. I halved the oil since I was planning on serving the soup with pesto. Also, I used much less water than the recipe called for, and didn’t cook the stew with the beans. Instead I made the stew separately and just ladled the beans over the top of each bowl. Instead of adding salt I added some yellow miso right before serving.
The stew was good. It was plain but filling and wholesome tasting, and a sprinkle of parmesan and a spoonful of my Bärlauch pesto really jazzed it up. Derek loved the combination, and asked me to add it to “Derek’s faves.” He said the dish was very satisfying and the pesto was particularly good.
Without the beans the stew completely filled my 4-quart pot.