RED BEAN STEW (for six)
This is Hungarian gulyas without the meat.
1 pound (2-1/4 cups) red beans, washed, picked over and soaked for 6 hours or overnight in 2 quarts water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium or large onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots. peeled and chopped
1 large or 2 small green bell peppers, cut into small dice
2 tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon oregano
pinch of cayenne
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon sugar
freshly ground pepper
½ cup minced fresh parsley or a combination parsley and dill
½ cup drained yogurt for topping
1. Drain the beans in a colander and rinse them under cold running water. Place the beans in a large soup pot or Dutch oven and add 2-1/2 quarts water. Turn the hear to medium high and bring to a gentle boil. Skim off any foam and/or add bean skins.
2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet and add the onions, carrots and peppers. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender and fragrant, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add 2 of the garlic cloves and cook for another minute or so, until the garlic is fragrant. Season to taste with salt, add another tablespoon of oil and add the paprika. Cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes, until the vegetables are well coated with paprika and the mixture is aromatic. Add a ladleful of simmering water from the beans to the pan, stir with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom and sides of the pan to deglaze, then stir this mixture into the beans. Add the tomato paste and bay leaf, reduce the heat, cover and cook for 1 hour.
3. Add oregano, the remaining garlic cloves, salt to taste, cayenne, vinegar and sugar and continue to simmer for another hour. The beans should be thoroughly tender and the broth thick and fragrant. Taste and adjust salt or add more cayenne if desired. For a thicker stew, strain out a heaping cup of beans with a little liquid and puree. Stir back into the stew.
4. Just before serving, stir in the parsley. Serve over noodles or thick country bread, topping each portion with a largo dollop of yogurt.
NOTE: This stew tastes best a day after it is made, and even better two days later.
adapted from Martha Rose Shulman, the New York Times