Usually stews are gray and mushy, but this is nice and bright and all of the vegetables retain their shape. The reason it’s not a pile of mush is that everything is cooked in “layers”, which helps control the result of each component. Meyer lemon is a hybrid of lemon and mandarin orange, so it is much milder and sweeter than regular lemon. If you can’t get your hands on Meyer lemon, then use regular lemon, but only use about half the amount so that the lemon flavor doesn’t overpower the entire dish.
I was introduced to celeriac (celery root) recently through culinary school and this is my first time cooking with it. It’s a less caloric/starchy substitute for potato and is more flavorful, as it offers a hint of celery.
Remember to save the bean cooking liquid! It is very flavorful and the starches released by the beans lend the stew the body that vegetable or chicken broth won’t be able to offer.
1 1/2 cups great northern beans, soaked for 12 hours
1 tablespoon kosher salt
4 large cloves garlic (peels kept on)
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, halved lengthwise and sliced
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
1 yellow onion, medium dice
1 large shallot, cut into thirds lengthwise and then thinly sliced
6 oz cremini mushrooms, medium dice
1 celeriac (celery root), peeled and cut into 1/2″ chunks
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 pound penne pasta (brown rice version is a good gluten free alternative)
1 Meyer lemon, quartered
red pepper flakes, to serve
sheep’s milk feta, freshly crumbled, to serve
What to do:
Drain and rinse the beans. Put beans in a large pot (I used enamel-coated cast iron) with enough water to cover two inches above level of the beans. Stir in kosher salt and unpeeled garlic cloves. Cover and bring water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, turn heat to low and let simmer for 30 minutes. Add the sun-dried tomato pieces and continue to simmer for another 20-30 minutes, until beans are tender and creamy.
While beans are cooking, prep vegetables and set aside. Next, fill a medium pot with water and a large pinch of salt for the pasta. Bring water to a boil.
Once the beans are cooked, strain them, while reserving cooking liquid. Set both aside.
In the same pot that was used to cook the beans, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add shallot and onion. Sauté lightly for about five minutes, until they are just beginning to brown. Add mushrooms and celeriac, season with black pepper and add about a cup of the bean cooking liquid. Cover, turn heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes.
The water for the pasta should be boiling at this point. Add the pasta and cook, uncovered, until al dente. Do not overcook! Err on the side of undercooked, as liquid will be added to it at the end and some of it will get absorbed by the pasta.
Once the vegetables have simmered for about 10 minutes, stir in the chard, cover, and cook for another 5 minutes.
Drain the pasta lightly and quickly and then toss back into the pot with 1/2 a cup of bean cooking liquid and an optional drizzle of oil.
Check the vegetables for doneness and adjust salt and pepper, to taste.
To serve, layer each bowl with pasta, beans, vegetables and additional bean broth, if desired. Top with a crumble of feta and a the juice of a lemon quarter. Serve with red pepper flakes on the side.