Cooking food from scratch takes time, which is something we don’t always have. But cooking a meal doesn’t have to happen all at once. Taking the time to plan and to prepare a few basic ingredients in advance that you can later assemble into a meal is one way to “do your future self a favour” (my anti-procrastination mantra).
This weekend I was at home one afternoon so I could put some adzuki beans in the slow cooker and vegetables in the oven while I went outside to mow the lawn and jump on the trampoline. With full days following, it was helpful to have those basics ready so we could assemble the beans and vegetables into tasty and healthy dinners without too much fuss.
Adzuki beans in the slow cooker
Rinse dried adzuki beans and soak them in water for as long as you want, as little as an hour or as long as overnight. Longer soaking time will reduce the cooking time. Drain and rinse the beans, then place in the slow cooker, very well covered with water. Add a little salt and a bay leaf or two. Cook on high for several hours. In my slow cooker a large amount of beans was ready in 5 hours – test yours after a few hours and keep checking each half hour until they are tender.
Allow to cool, drain off any excess water and keep the beans in the fridge for a few days or freeze them.
Prepare as many vegetables as you can fit in your oven. I used pumpkin, sweet potato, carrot and onion, all washed, peeled and chopped into chunky pieces. Place in lightly oiled trays and leave them in a moderate oven until they are cooked (usually one and a half to two hours), turning and checking them occasionally. Be patient and let them keep cooking until they have shrunk a little, and have little burnt bits starting on their edges.
Allow to cool, place in containers and refrigerate or freeze.
Now you have these basics ready you can use them in several meals, for example:
Adzuki bean and roast vegetable stew
Serves 10-12, or 5 people for two dinners in a row
– 1 tablespoon oil
– 2 cloves garlic
– 7 cups roast vegetables
– 3 cups cooked adzuki beans
– 1 cup stock (chicken or vegetable)
– 1 cup water
– 2 tablespoons lemon juice
– ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
– 2 teaspoons paprika
– salt, pepper
– tiny bit of chilli powder, to taste (optional)
Gently soften the garlic in the oil in a large, heavy based saucepan. Add the vegetables and adzuki beans and stir. Add the stock, water and lemon juice, stirring until well combined. Add the remaining seasonings, to taste.
Simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for approx 15-20 minutes.
The first night we had it for dinner with brown rice and steamed green vegetables.
We served it again the next night with quinoa and a quick salad.