Something to stew over


PROTEIN PACKED Bean-based meals have been shown to be as filling, or even more filling than meat-based meals.


Redmond Cabot

Joy to the world! A new year is upon us with its promise of all of life’s offerings, and I’ve missed my first deadline of the new year already! Everything changes, and nothing changes.
Reflecting on where we are food-wise, it’s a mixture of all things. Where we buy and consume our foods has never been more flooded with processed, de-natured, intensively produced foods. Yet, concurrently, there has never been more awareness of what and how we eat our foods.
The most recent Lancet report on world food production makes for startling reading. We need to radically and quickly review where our food comes from and how it is produced or reared. Issues of climate change and sustainable living have never been more to the forefront. And herein lies the hope for the future. We can only hope that revelations such as those in the report will force us to actually cop on and start changing our ways. Food that is produced unsustainably or in a manner that damages the planet should be avoided, as should food that is so processed it is stripped of its inherent nutritional value before it ends up on our plate.
I’m not big into fads or trends. Fermenting, vegan practices, raw foods … these are all buzzwords today. My advice is unwavering and boring, formulated by my own experience growing up and learning from my mum. Eat everything in moderation. Use fresh when possible, eat plenty of veg. When buying fresh, choose what looks good in the shop. Buy with your eyes; do not buy exclusively for a recipe. Lastly, avoid intensively produced, factory-reared animal goods when you can. There you go, Red’s advice for free!

Warming tomato and bean stew
So we actually had a fully vegetarian Christmas this year for the first time ever, but I continue to eat meat when I know where it came from and if I know the animal had a fair life and was respected during the ending of its life.
And this month, we have been enjoying rich, protein-laden stews. These are excellent when partnered with jacket potatoes from the oven and/or cooked rice. You can add meat or fish if you desire. Our business, Cabots of Westport, has released a delicious new, slow-cooked Tomato and Borlotti Bean Stew. Here is an alternative to try at home. It’s fairly easy to make and warmly satisfying, especially with the addition of the harissa – a hot, aromatic Tunisian paste made from chilli and assorted spices. You should be able to source some of this paste in any good supermarket, or try your health-food store.

What you need

  • 1 can butter beans
  • 2 carrots
  • 6 large red tomatoes
  • 1 large white onion
  • 2 shallots
  • Small bunch parsley, chopped
  • Tsp harissa paste
  • Glug of olive oil
  • Seasoning

What you do
Peel and dice the carrots, then peel and chop the onions and shallots. Heat your oil in a pan and sweat the shallots, onions and carrots with a pinch of salt for ten minutes over a medium-low heat. Wash the tomatoes, cut out their top ‘eye-pieces’, chop to desired sizes and add to the mix. Slow-cook for a good 15-20 minutes.
Drain and wash the canned beans, add them to the mixture, and stir the lot for a further five minutes. Serve up the stew in plate bowls with chopped parsley on top and with the harissa on the side as an accompaniment for those who like more heat. To bulk out this dinner even more, serve with baked spuds or rice – or both!

Red Cabot is interested in food, nature and small things. He sells his food at Westport Country Markets in St Anne’s Boxing Club, James’s Street car park, Westport, every Thursday, from 8am to 1pm.