The Child does not eat meat, which isn’t really a problem – although I do love a good steak here and there. Mostly, I solve this by cooking steak on the grill, alongside a piece of salmon for her, or else we eat out and just each get what we like.
This past week, I found out about a grass-fed beef lecture and tasting, sponsored by the renowned Seattle chef Tom Douglas. Normally, I’d drag The Child with me, but in this case, there was no chance she’d do anything but be miserable for the event, or even try to persuade a few other attendees of how wrong they were to be there.
So I went with plan B: I found a friend to go with me to the lecture, and here’s a tip – if you ever get the chance to be the first person to give someone grass-fed beef, do it. The look of awe and amazement as they taste it and immediately discern the improvement is priceless.
The Child stayed home alone, and such was my guilt over this that I made her favorite dinner and left it out for her. We eat a certain amount of pasta and pizza, and tons of bean burritos, since she’s still not a terribly adventurous eater – the challenge of course being that I am, and get bored with the repetition. But, I have found a few dishes that we both like enough to serve over and over.
Mark Bittman’s Boulangerie Beans, from his comprehensive How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, is one of them. I make it once a week, because it is simple, filling, and nutritious. The long, slow bake results in beans and potatoes that are soft and richly flavored from broth and leeks; the potatoes layered on top also have a savory, slightly chewy skin that forms and adds some texture, along with the leeks.
It takes only about 15 minutes to toss together, but it’s not a last-minute dinner due to the lengthy cooking time. That said, it can easily be made ahead of time and rewarmed when you are ready to serve. This was how I left them for The Child when I headed out for the grass-fed beef tasting.
She sent me a text message when she finished dinner: “Thanks Mom!!”
When I got home, there was enough left in the casserole for me to have one small bowl of it. In theory, the dish serves four as a main course; it could probably serve six as a side dish.
But if you have a hungry child, it serves one.
- 2 cups chopped leeks
- 2 tsp dried thyme (or two tbsp fresh)
- 3 cups white beans, drained (two 15-ounce cans)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 medium starchy or all-purpose potatoes, peeled
- 1 cup low-salt vegetable stock
- 4 tablespoons butter
- Heat the oven to 325°F.
- Saute the leeks in 1 tbsp butter, about 20 minutes, until very soft.
- Stir a teaspoon of the thyme, and salt and pepper to taste into the beans. Spread the beans into the bottom of a large baking dish and set aside.
- Spread the cooked leeks on top of the beans.
- Halve the potatoes lengthwise and slice thinly into half-circles. Lay the potatoes in overlapping rows to cover the beans. Pour the stock over the top, dot with pieces of butter, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and the remaining thyme.
- Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the top is browned and glazed, another 45 minutes or so. Serve immediately or let rest for up to an hour and serve at room temperature.