29 January 2012

Eating Cheap: White Beans and Cabbage

Sometimes the births I attend as a doula are intense, and there is no talking beyond simple phrases (come here, drink this, press here, turn that off) sometimes there are long stretches where my role is to keep people's minds off of their worries. I never discuss politics or religion with a client unless they specifically ask me a question, and then I answer as briefly as possible.  I will discuss food, but not the politics of my food. The other day I sat with a client and waited, and waited, and waited for a planned cesarean to happen.  There was a lot of time to talk and eventually we had each other's who histories including my undergraduate degree in animal science.  The father asked me if I was a vegetarian, so I explained about free-range, humanely raised meats.  He wanted to know what that cost, so I told him.  And he made a face, which is fair, because it's a lot of money.  I explained that we compensated by eating less meat (which is easier sometimes than others, because I go through phases where my body is all "Oh, steak, I see steak.  I want to eat steak.  Mmm...steak." and pretty much nothing else will do.  I buy the good stuff and pretend I need the iron.  (I don't need the iron. I'm one of those people who have good iron levels no matter what.  The Red Cross wants me for their extra blood sucking services.  Maybe it's the zinc. Yes, surely I need the zinc.)

When I'm not eating steak, we eat a lot of beans.  Beans are cheap.  They're even cheaper if you buy dried beans in bulk, but even a can of beans is pretty cheap.  And all that business about the musical fruit?  It's because the beasties that live in your intestines aren't adapted to a beany diet.  If you eat more beans your beasties will adapt and then you can eat beans without worry.  Mmm...beans.

Sorry, I'm back being serious now.

Beans! Are cheap! You know what else is cheap?  Potatoes and cabbage are cheap.  So when I was flipping through the completely brilliant Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson and saw a dish made up of beans, cabbage and potatoes that looked delicious I knew I had to make it. It was quick and easy because Heidi is brilliant. And when my husband took a bite and asked if there was bacon in it, I knew I would make it again and again. I cook mine in a my wok because I am currently obsessed with my wok, but a large frying pan will do.

White Beans and Cabbage

White Beans and Cabbage
adapted from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson


2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium red skinned potato
1 shallot
2 cups (or 1 can) cooked white beans, cooled
1/4 large head cabbage
salt and to taste
Parmesan cheese (garnish, optional)


Heat a wok or frying pan over medium-high heat.

Scrub the potato and dice it small.  Add the oil to the hot pan, then add the potatoes.  Sprinkle with salt and toss to coat.  Spread the potatoes out in a single layer, cover and cook, stirring once or twice, until soft, 5-8 minutes.

Slice the shallot thinly.  When the potatoes are ready, add the shallots and the white beans.  Stir to combine then spread into a thin layer.  Let the beans cook undisturbed for a few minutes, until they begin to brown on one side.  Then stir to turn and cook a few minutes more.

While the beans are cooking, shred the cabbage thinly.  When the beans are cooked, add the cabbage and toss to combine.  Cook for a minute or two until the cabbage begins to soften.  Taste for salt and season if necessary.

Serve immediately, with a sprinkle of Parmesan if desired. (It's lovely, but not necessary, and obviously makes this not vegan.)


  1. I make a soup like this sometimes ... I wish S. liked cabbage more! :)

    1. R is not a huge cabbage fan either,except in coleslaw, but he likes this. Cabbage in soup tends to release more of its sulfurous vapors. This doesn't have that cabbage smell at all.



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