Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Recipe: Creamy Cannellini Bean-Pea Puree

As requested! This recipe is really easy, with significantly fewer spices than I normally use. I used the canned stuff for convenience, but this dish would be sublime prepared in slow-cooker, like a Crock Pot, with dry beans and fresh or frozen peas added toward the end of the cooking process.

-2 14.5- or 15-oz. cans cannellini beans, drained (preferably organic)
-1 15-oz. can no salt added green peas, drained
-1 14-oz. (or so) can low-sodium broth (preferably vegetable or chicken, but whatever you have on hand)
-3 large garlic cloves, chopped
-1 small pinch (roughly 1/2 tsp.) celery seeds
-Salt and pepper to taste
-Chives to taste, maybe 2 tbsp. chopped
-1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or whichever milk you prefer, but I would advise against regular skim because it won't be as creamy. Soy would be a delicious substitute, as would a fattier cow's milk.)
-4 oz. fat-free cream cheese (1/2 block or tub. You can also use neufchatel or full-fat cheese)

You will need something to puree the beans and peas. I used an immersion hand blender, which is great because it doesn't require involved cleanup. This produced a creamy consistency, but it wasn't completely pureed. I wanted it to be smooth but with some texture. However, if you need or prefer a smoother puree, try using a blender or food processor. If you want more chunkiness, you could avoid the electronic gadgets and stick with a potato masher.

In a dutch oven or large saucepan, combine the drained beans, peas, broth, garlic, and celery seeds. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer (just below boiling.) Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and let the mixture cook down until the beans are falling apart. This should take no more than 20 minutes, and probably more like 10-15.

When the beans are visibly mushy with a few of them coming out of their skins, remove the beans from the heat and puree the mixture to your desired consistency. Taste the mixture to see if it's adequately seasoned for your palate. If you need to, add more salt and pepper. Stir in the almond milk.

Bring the mixture, now pureed and milky, back up to a simmer and reduce to your desired consistency. Feel free to add more stock, almond milk, or even water if you want a soupier puree.

Once the mixture is the creamy, thick texture of mashed potatoes, stir in the cream cheese and chives. (Tip: Break up the cream cheese into little pats instead of adding the whole hunk all together.) Taste the mixture again to see if more salt or pepper is needed.

After the cream cheese melts, the dish is ready to serve. Enjoy!

Nutritional Information
The entire recipe as written above contains approximately 800 calories, 56g protein, 55g net carbs (77g carbs minus 22g fiber), and 7g fat. The recipe makes a lot, so you could easily get 10-15 WLS portions out of this recipe if not more.

Keep in mind that the stats change as you substitute ingredients. For example, using neufchatel instead of fat-free cream cheese will add 188 calories and 25g fat to the entire recipe but would slightly lower the carbs and protein. Using skim cow's milk will add 40 calories, 10g carbs (sugar, in the form of lactose), and 7g protein, while cutting 3g fat from the entire recipe.

I wouldn't necessarily call this a "protein dish." Beans have protein, but they also contain a lot of carbs - as you can see from the stats, the protein and net carbs in this dish are about equal. This is totally fine, but you might consider mixing in unflavored protein powder such as Isopure Unflavored, Inspire Pure, or Unjury Unflavored to increase the protein-to-carb ratio. Otherwise, serve alongside a protein source and eat this after a few bites of a more dense protein. I served the puree with pork tenderloin.

Alternately or additionally, for even more protein and creaminess, you could top this with a dollop of fat-free Greek yogurt and sprinkle on more chives. The Greek yogurt mimics sour cream, but with better protein numbers.

This would also be good baked with a Parmesan cheese crust on top. Get creative!

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