This is a flavorful mélange that is not wet enough to be a soup, but not dry, either. Although you could easily add more liquid for a soup or cook it dry as a side dish.
3 cups cooked cranberry beans (see recipe for Basic Braised Shelling Beans on site)
2 cups carrots, cut in ¼-inch dice
½ bunch collards, stems stripped and cut into ¼-inch shreds
½ onion, diced ¼-inch
½ bunch scallions, whites cut into ¼-inch slices, greens finely sliced, kept separate
2 tomatoes, peeled and diced ½-inch
1 clove garlic, minced
Optional-¼ cup “instant” barley (a.k.a. 10-minute barley)*
3-4 cups vegetable stock
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh Italian parsley, chopped
½ teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil as needed
Romano cheese to pass at service if you wish
Optional- 2 cups potatoes such as Bintji, cut into ½-inch dice, cooked in boiling water until just tender, then shocked in ice water to arrest cooking
4-8 slices of sturdy country style bread, sliced thickly and toasted until firm and golden
Heat a chef’s pan or straight sided sauté pan large enough to hold all the ingredients over medium heat. Film generously with oil. When hot, add the carrots and cook to color them golden. When evenly golden and still a bit firm, use a slotted spoon to remove to a bowl.
Add the onions to the pan and cook until “clear”. Add the scallions and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the garlic, cook until fragrant, then add the tomatoes. Lower heat to medium and season with salt and pepper and add half the herbs. Stir vigorously and cook to break down the tomatoes. Toss the barley in, if using, after a minute.
Cook 5 minutes. The tomatoes should be fairly broken down. Add the rest of the herbs, and the stock. Add the collards and bring to a simmer. Simmer 10 minutes, stirring to keep the barley from sticking to the pan bottom.
After ten minutes, add the carrots and the beans to the pan. If using, add the potatoes. The liquid should just come even with the top of the ingredients. Simmer, lid off, for ten minutes. Gently stir, turning the ingredients under the diminishing liquid. After 10 minutes, taste a carrot to see if it is tender. Taste the stew for flavor/balance and adjust if needed. If the carrots are cooked and the beans are heated through, the dish is ready to serve.
The liquid in the pan should come to about half-way up the vegetables. If there is a lot more left in the pan, raise the heat under the pan and cook down to reduce the liquid a bit.
Put a piece of toast into a large bowl and ladle vegetables over the top of the bread. Pour some liquid around, drizzle with a little oil, scatter the top with the finely sliced scallion greens, and serve. Pass the cheese if desired.
*Instant barley is par-cooked barley that only takes around 10 minutes to become tender. It also seems to not have quite as much starch as cooked form scratch does, which is nice for this stew. It thickens the broth a little for a little substance, but not too much. It is also good to use the barley, because with the beans and some dairy, like the cheese passed at the end, this stew makes a complete protein, which is a good thing. Look for instant barley at health food stores, Trader Joe’s, and better grocery stores.
YIELD: Serves 4