I love to eat this when the weather gets cold and we want comfort food in the evening.  This was a family favourite cooked by my mother for many years.  Kids seem to like it though you might need to omit hot chilli and cayenne and use paprika instead.  Make a large batch and store leftovers in the freezer for future ready-meals.

If you don’t like kidney beans then borlotti, cannellini or butterbeans will work just as well.

For 4:

225g (1 large mug) dried red kidney beans (or 2 tins sugar free kidney beans, drained and rinsed)
1250ml water for boiling (if using dried beans)
1-2 dsp extra virgin olive oil
225g/1 very large onion, finely or roughly chopped
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
450g mixed veg, chopped (eg. red/green peppers, carrot, celery, turnip, runner beans, green beans, courgettes)
Heaped tsp dried basil
Rounded tsp ground cumin
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp chilli powder (optional – avoid if you don’t like hot spices)
400-500g passata (sieved tomatoes) OR a 400g can tomatoes, liquidized/mashed
2 tbsp tomato puree
3 tbsp red wine (optional)
Stock (liquid reserved from cooking the beans) or water
Juice of ½ lemon (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper and Himalayan or Atlantic sea salt

1. If using dried beans: Soak the beans overnight in filtered water, drain and rinse well.  Bring to the boil in fresh water and boil fast for at least 10 mins so any protease-inhibitors are destroyed (you can give yourself an awful cramp and tummy upset if you don’t do this when cooking beans).  Then cover the pot and simmer for a further 35-40 mins or until the beans are soft – cooking time varies.  If you find the water tends to boil over, it helps to add a teaspoon of olive oil.  When the beans are soft, drain and reserve the stock for use later.
2. Put the onion and garlic in a large heavy bottomed saucepan with 1 tbs olive oil and 1 tbs of water, cover with a lid and sweat for a few minutes until translucent.  Then add the chopped vegetables, beans (if using tinned, do not add till later), basil and spices.  Stir well, then cover and sweat (on low heat) 5 mins
3. Next add tomatoes/passata, tomato puree, red wine and 1/4 pint of the stock/water.
4. Bring the mixture to the boil, cover and simmer for 20 mins until the veg are softened.
5. Add the lemon juice and seasonings, tinned beans (rinse well first)or cooked beans.  Increase the stock level if you like your casseroles fairly liquid then cook for a further 10-15 mins until the vegetables are tender.

Serve with:

  • A green salad or steamed broccoli.
  • Some cooked quinoa, millet or brown rice is nice with this (but avoid all of those if you are on the SC diet!).  The quinoa in particular, with its 11% protein, will keep you fuller longer. If you are on the SC diet, just put a few more carrots and turnip or celeriac in the casserole for extra carbs.
  • My one minute guacamole: mash a ripe avocado or two with a pinch of Himalayan or Atlantic sea salt.  Add fresh lime juice to taste (one lime is usually enough for two small avocados) and if you like, a pinch of chilli or a chopped red chilli.

Why this is good for you:
Taking a break from meat and having vegetable protein instead provides food for your good gut bacteria.  Maybe that is part of the reason why a semi-vegetarian diet helps people live longer.  Herbs and spices all have medicinal qualities as they encourage antioxidant activity in our body – good news for reducing inflammation, helping your skin and your intestines.  They also help suppress disease-causing bacteria in your gut while encouraging the growth of helpful species.