Back to Work – White Beans Two Ways

June 9, 2013 § 6 Comments

It’s Sunday. The last day of my maternity leave – well, technically Friday was but you get my drift. Tomorrow a new adventure begins. It’s hard to believe 3 months have already passed.

I had high hopes for my leave – hah, naive hopes at that! Sure, I wanted to bond with my daughter and relish in all things baby – that goes without saying. But I also thought I’d have time to read, organize my house (finally clean out those drawers that have been eyeing me for years), cook and blog about all kinds of new delicious vegan treats, join some mommy groups, and last but not least – exercise. Well, none of the latter happened! I did get to relish in all things baby – but as for the other stuff, forget about it! To be fair, I did clean out one drawer (woo hoo!) and I was able to blog once – but as for any other dreams I had about maternity leave, they were delusions. Had I told any moms about my plans, they would have silently rolled their eyes – and rightfully so!

But in the end, none of that matters – even though my drawers remain cluttered and books are left unread, most importantly, I had the fortunate opportunity to be home with our daughter for 3 months. Three months that I will forever treasure. Days on end of lounging around and watching her expressions change from one moment to another. Watching her discover her little self bit by bit – learning to suck her thumb, to smile, to hold on tight to my finger (my favorite). These are days I wouldn’t trade for anything – and it is beyond sad to leave as she is just starting to coo and smile.

And so as I soak in every last moment of this week – I’m filled with mixed emotions. Excited to return to work, to my colleagues, and to my projects – but devastated to leave my daughter. Excited to continue to develop myself and my career so that she will have a strong woman to look up to when she’s older – but scared at what I may be missing out on. I now know the pain that every new working mother feels.

Ironically when I started this blog, one of the things I wanted to share was how to make great, quick meals. As a working woman, this was important. As a working mom – this will be critical! Having a baby is no joke. It’s a 24-7 job. Something I could never have understood before her arrival. And as I wonder how I’ll do this job, and the job I’m paid to do – I rest upon the reassurance that this is doable – that millions of women around the world do this – all in their own way. I’m extremely fortunate to work with many of these women and I’m sure I’ll be relying on them heavily in the coming months as I set out on this adventure.  Not to mention I have THE best husband, so I’m hardly in this alone.

As I prepare myself to return to work, I’m focusing on ways to find balance in the new chaos – particularly when it comes to food. Having a newborn means lots of takeout – and we are SO over takeout! No more we beg! Homecooking is what we need. But that takes time – sometimes lots of time. So I’m looking for quick fix options that pack all the nutrition and flavor needed.

I shamefully have had these Rancho Gordo beans in my pantry for over a year. Anyone who has ordered from them will understand why this is shocking. We spent Memorial Day weekend with one of my best friends in North Carolina. Not only did we get to soak up the most amazing views at her family’s lake house – but we indulged in the most delicious home cooked meals. Watching her work her magic in the kitchen – including a pot of Rancho Gordo black beans – reignited my passion for good quality home cooking and the desire to be just a bit more of a planner. Whenever I want beans, it’s at the moment and I reach for a can. Soaking and slow cooking can seem oh-so-daunting. But it really needn’t be so – and the end product far outshines any old can of beans.

For these two dishes I used Rancho Gordo’s Runner Cannellinni bean. I cooked them in the traditional Rancho Gordo method – soaking all night in a bowl of water, then adding the drained beans to the crock pot with sauteed onion, garlic, and new water. They cooked on high for 5 hours. The resulting bean is huge and buttery – a perfect blank canvas for any pairing. We enjoyed them with spinach the first night and as a tasty salad for leftovers.

vegan spinach and beans, Rancho Gordo, cannellinni

Cannellinni Beans with Sauteed Spinach

This dish is delicious with spinach but would work well with any cooked green – kale, collards, etc. I used one box of fresh organic spinach as that’s what I had on hand but this dish would have been great with several as the spinach cooks down so much. Prepare beans according to package instructions. If using crock pot method – cook beans throughout the day so they’re ready when you get home to make dinner. Pulling this together once beans are cooked takes just minutes! Simply heat oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add spinach to hot oil and garlic if desired. Season with salt and pepper. Saute spinach until bright green and wilted, about 5 minutes. Add desired amount of beans and a little liquid the beans cooked in. Season dish with salt and pepper and serve with crusty bread broiled with vegan butter.

vegan bean salad, white bean salad, asparagus

Cannellinni Bean Salad with Asparagus

This dish is a cinch to pull together if the beans and asparagus are cooked. I had both on hand as leftovers. While we ate this right after preparing, it would be even better if it sat and marinated for an hour, or overnight.

Prepare beans according to package instructions. Roast asparagus at 400 with coconut or olive oil, salt, and pepper for 30 minutes or until tender and slightly golden on tips. Cut asparagus in one inch strips and set aside. Prepare the dressing in the serving bowl by mixing together the juice of one lemon, equal part olive oil, a few splashes of red wine vinegar, a bunch of chopped parsley, one minced garlic clove, salt, pepper, and a few dashes of red pepper flakes. Add chopped red pepper, onion, the cannellinni beans, and asparagus. Mix and enjoy!

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§ 6 Responses to Back to Work – White Beans Two Ways

  • How was it being vegan through your pregnancy?

    • Vanessa says:

      It was truly WONDERFUL! I have been meaning to write a full post on it but I had absolutely no complications in my pregnancy. I gained a healthy 25 pounds and my daughter was born in perfect health. Are you considering a vegan pregnancy?

      • I’ve been vegetarian or three months, not trying yet to have children, but was curious how many women went through a full pregnancy being vegetarian or vegan….I know it’s more than possible, but I’m almost sure the docs will recommend that you eat some meat, dairy etc..but that’s absolutely great to know and you should definitely share your journey!

      • Vanessa says:

        You could absolutely have a vegan or vegetarian pregnancy! It is just important to find a doctor/midwife that will work with you. I hope to write that post soon – thanks for stopping by!

      • Thanks for sharing!

  • […] Cannellini Bean Salad – you can make this with fresh or canned beans. Any white, light bean will work. Chickpeas would also be good here. Just throw together beans, onion, red pepper, and asparagus (or green beans) and toss with a vinaigrette and you’ve got a hearty, filling salad. […]

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