This is one of my favourite slow-cooker recipes. I make it several times over the winter; we eat some for dinner, and then i freeze a couple of batches for those days when i'm feeling uninspired about cooking (yes! It happens!) or for when i need a meal in a hurry.
The recipe is based on one i heard on National Radio. I don't usually pay the radio recipes too much attention, but i was very taken with the sound of this recipe, and looked it up on-line. Possibly something to do with the fact that i was driving in heavy rain, and Julie Biuso's description of this dish, served with crusty home-made bread, was very appealing on such a day.
The original recipe contains a small amount of pancetta for added flavour, but also suggests the use of a bacon hock in place of the pancetta. I usually take the bacon hock route, which adds a lot of meaty flavour, not to mention some delicious hunks of meat. However after being recently reminded of the negative health effects of too much processed meat in one's diet I decided to try making a vegan version. I increased the rosemary content (i love the flavour of rosemary, but if you are not so keen on it you could use a bit less) and added thyme. I also increased the amount of ginger, and added tamari and some molasses for extra savoury deliciousness.
If you don't have a slow cooker, this dish can be cooked equally well in a casserole dish in the oven. I have also cooked it in a heavy based pot on top of our 'Lady Kitchener' wood burner, but if you take the stove-top route you need to be around to keep an eye on it and ensure it doesn't dry out.
If you want to check out the original (meat containing) recipe, you can view it here: http://www.radionz.co.nz/collections/recipes/haricot-beans-with-pancetta-
SLOW COOKED HARICOT BEANS
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
300g haricot beans
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed or very finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, very finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, stalks removed.
3 large carrots, scrubbed or peeled and thinly sliced
half a medium pumpkin (about 750-800g), de-seeded, peeled and cut into small chunks
2 thumb-sized knobs of ginger
2 cups very hot vegetable stock
70g tomato paste (i use Delmaine tomato paste, which comes in 70g pots)
1 tablespoon molasses (optional)
1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
3 cups of very hot water
Fry the onion gently for 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer to the slow cooker. Rinse the beans and add to the onion along with the garlic, rosemary and pepper, and stir. Add the carrots and pumpkin. Squash the ginger under the blade of a knife so that it cracks but holds together. Bury the ginger in the vegetables. Pour in the hot stock. Dissolve the tomato paste in 2 cups of the hot water and add to the pot. Dissolve the molasses (if using) in the remaining cup of hot water and add to the pot. Cook on 'HIGH' for 3.5 - 4 hours until the beans are tender. Season with salt to taste.
When cooked, use a fork to mash the vegetables, after removing the knobs of ginger.
Serve with crusty 'No Knead Bread' or in bowls over steaming rice.