A storm that dropped three feet of snow over 24 hours had us cabin bound, except for brief periods outside to shovel snow and run the snow blower up and down the driveway. Temps hovered around 8°F before bed and when we awoke. Long morning cuddles between flannel sheets kept us cozy, until the dogs insisted we get up, light a fire in the wood stove, and take them out. The view from our windows was fairy tale white, and whenever the sun peeked through the cloud cover, the world sparkled. The allure of engaging with the snowy mountains was too strong to resist, it was time for a winter adventure.
Deep, fresh, powdery snow meant snow shoes for us, and warm, colorful vests for the dogs. High Sierra neighbors taught us that dogs need protection when the temperature is 20°F or below, and Ruff Wear makes tough outer wear that can withstand Risa and Tango’s fierce romps through snow and brush.
We all bundled up and drove ¼ mile higher into the mountains where winter snow closes the road just beyond our alpine community, and it becomes a snowshoe and cross-country ski trail leading to endless possibilities. As we strapped on our snowshoes, the dogs raced off, dancing, tunneling under the snow, rolling in delight. We trekked up to Lake Sabrina, frozen firm enough for hearty souls who lug skates up the 2-mile route can glide over the surface, surrounded by towering peaks.
The exhilaration of being out in the glistening mountains, moving through virgin snow and breathing the pristine air lured us on for so long, we returned to the cabin tired and hungry for something hearty. During winter, I stock up on provisions that will last- canned beans, root vegetables, sturdy greens and cheese. I poked around the cupboards and fridge and rounded up the ingredients for this nurturing stew featuring white beans, kale and Parmesan cheese. I always save the rinds of Parmesan cheese to add richness and flavor to soups and stews. I toss one or two into simmering pots and am never disappointed with the results. When I shopped before the incoming storm, black kale was on my list, but the full bunches of purple kale looked fresher. This stew could be made with whatever green you have at home or looks the best at the market. While we enjoyed every warming mouthful the day I made the
dish, the leftovers were even better the next day.
White Bean, Kale and Parmesan Stew
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 12 ounces (2 cups) cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 2 15-oz cans cannellini or white kidney beans (preferably low-salt) with liquid
- 2 cups (or more) low-salt chicken or vegetable broth, or water
- 2 rinds Parmesan cheese
- 1 bunch kale (black, red, whatever you find), stems removed, leaves cut into 1"pieces,
- Parmesan cheese, coarsely grated
- Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion slices and red pepper flakes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and sauté until the onion begins to brown, about 8 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and rosemary and sauté until the tomatoes begin to collapse, stirring frequently, 10-15 minutes.
- Add the beans with their liquid, 2 cups broth, and the Parmesan rinds. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer about 12 minutes to blend the flavors, stirring frequently and crushing some of the beans against the side of the pan to add texture to the stew.
- Add the kale leaves and simmer until wilted, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Thin the stew with more broth if desired. Season generously with black pepper. Taste and add more salt if needed. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead and refrigerated. Rewarm before serving, thinning with more broth or water if needed).
- Sprinkle the stew with coarsely grated Parmesan and serve.