A Comforting Winter Warmer
With the winter solstice, the nights have reached their longest and the cold is settling in. Here in Byron we’re lucky enough to have mostly sunny and mild winter days, but we still need warming winter dishes to take the chill out of our bones and nourish our bodies as we go through this season.
There is something deeply joyful about cooking up a comforting meal for friends. The pot on the stove, simmering away and filling the room with rich aromatics. The nourishment we get from our meals doesn’t come from the food alone. We give it to each other.
Adzuki beans are loaded with all the good stuff legumes are famous for. They have plenty of fiber, protein, and beneficial plant compounds, and there’s a good reason they’re eaten by some of the healthiest people on the planet. If you want to read about the health habits of the longest lived people in the world, check out Dan Buettner’s Blue Zones solution at https://www.bluezones.com/. He gives a great explantion of why legumes keep us thriving into old age.
The ginger, garlic, and spices in this meal give it a hearty, warming kick, and the carrots add texture and extra veggie goodness.
Winter is a great time to explore the spice cupboard, so feel free to experiment with a mixture of warming spices to suit your tastes.
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup dried oyster or shitake mushrooms
- 1 medium knob ginger, grated
- 1 medium leek, white part only
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 tsp cumin powder
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1.5 tsp ginger powder
- 1 tsp whole peppercorns
- 2 cup adzuki beans, soaked 2 hours or overnight
- 1/2 cup lentils, soaked 2 hours or overnight
- 6 medium carrots, sliced in 1/2 cm rounds
- 5 dates, sliced
- (optional) 1 tbsp miso
- (optional) 1 litre veggie stock
- 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- Salt and pepper
- Any of the following, to suit your taste
- 1/2 cup Mindful Foods organic & activated seed mix
- 1 small bunch chopped parsley or coriander
- 1 red chilli, de-seeded and sliced into strips
- 3 radishes, finely sliced
- 1 /2 cup sauerkraut
- Lemon wedges
- Finger limes
Rehydrate mushrooms in enough water to cover. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan on low heat. Add leek and garlic and simmer gently until softened and just slightly browned. Add grated ginger and cook for another minute or two. Add spices and let them fry for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Drain the adzuki beans and lentils, then add to the pot with the mushrooms and their soaking liquid. At this point you can add veggie stock or miso for extra richness, or just keep it simple with water. Cover the legumes in 8 cups of water or stock, and keep an eye on it, topping up if needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add dates and leave to cook until softened through, 45-60 minutes. Add carrots to the stew after about 30 minutes to soften.
When the beans are tender and just about ready to eat, add rice wine vinegar and adjust the seasoning to suit. Feel free to add more warming spices at this point if you want a bit of extra kick.
This dish is best served with a variety of toppings on the table to customise it to each person’s taste. We love adding our activated seed mix for a bit of crunch and extra protein, but any of your favourite nuts or seeds would be great. Other delicious toppings can be chopped chilli, parsley, coriander, olive oil, finely sliced radishes, or sauerkraut.
Eat with our warming spiced rice recipe, or enjoy on its own!