I’m just starting to explore beans as a protein alternative to meat. Cannellini beans are attractive because, in addition to being low glycemic, low in fat and rich in fiber, they are also wonderful for detoxification. They are high in molybdenum, which stimulates detoxifying enzymes in the body, helping to remove dangerous substances like acetaldehyde and sulfites. They are also packed with antioxidants. Be sure to always boil Cannellini beans for at least 10 minutes before consuming them – they contain toxins that can upset the digestive system if consumed raw. But you’ll need to soak and cook the dried beans for much longer than that anyway so don’t let this fact put you off!

Feel free to use other favorite beans in this recipe. It’s lovely on an autumn day when there is still warmth in the air.

ratatouille with cannellini beans

Serves 4

Note: Beans should be sorted and soaked the night before if not using the express method.

1 ½ cups dried Cannellini beans (buy a little more than you need in case you have to discard some)

3 T. olive oil

1 large garlic clove, finely chopped

¾ cup chopped onion

2 cups diced eggplant

2 cups diced zucchini

2 cups diced yellow squash or acorn squash

4 cups chopped tomatoes

¾ tsp. dried oregano

¼ tsp. salt, if desired

Pour the dried beans onto a pan and pick through them, removing any that appear to be broken or shriveled and discarding any stones or debris. Rinse the beans with cold water and place them in a large bowl. Add cool water, covering to two or three inches. Allow to soak for at least eight hours or overnight (place in the refrigerator if your kitchen is warm). Alternatively you can boil the beans for two or three minutes in a pot and then remove it from the heat. Allow to stand, covered, for at least an hour. Remember to always drain the water completely from the beans after soaking, whichever method you choose.

Place the soaked beans into a pot and cover with fresh cool water at least two inches above beans. Bring to a boil, skimming foam. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until beans are tender, usually an hour or two depending on their freshness. Drain any excess water off before using in the ratatouille.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and onion. Cook two to three minutes until crisp-tender. Add eggplant, zucchini and squash, stirring to mix. Cook and stir four to five minutes or until crisp-tender. Stir in tomatoes, oregano, salt and cooked Cannellini beans, being careful not to mash the beans. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer five minutes, stirring very gently and only occasionally. I like to serve this with some freshly baked gluten-free focaccia bread.

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