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DSCF3264This dish is my diamond in the rough.

But let me back up a week…or two…or possibly more, who’s counting?

It all started with my highfalutin idea to make a fancy salad for dinner. A fennel, orange and pomegranate salad to be exact.
I boiled pearl barley. And a small quantity of chick peas.
Then diced some delicious fennel.
I popped out pomegranate seeds from their pods and mixed everything together along with some spice, herbs and vinegar.
It sure was looking pretty.
In this dish, I incorporated every taste on the tongue’s palette but sweetness (pomegranate seeds don’t count, they’re for color and crunch).
My eyes wandered over to the southern grown orange resting on the counter. Nervousness set in because in New England a tasty orange is difficult to come by even if it is from the grovestands of Florida.
The vegan husband warned me, “don’t you remember what happened the last time you used an orange in a recipe“? Who could forget, I thought.
The difference this time was that I was going to taste that orange before using it.
It was surprisingly sweet.
Thank you orange growers of Florida.

But then an unfortunate event occurred.
I decided to use the zest of that southern orange.
The zest I did not taste.
I need to learn to edit.
Or start sampling zest.
The dish tasted bad. I mean really, really bad.

DSCF3803My dinner debacles continued:

DSCF3774Spelt stew
(note to self – spelt should be used as a flour, period)

The above stew was followed by a bland Minestrone Soup and then a tasteless Roasted Red Pepper Risotto.

I could go on.
Let’s just say we’ve eaten a lot of veggie sandwiches of late.

Now, on to my diamond.

Okay, so I haven’t actually made this dish for several months. I just dreamt about it every time I forced myself to take a bite of the aforementioned fiascos.
The aroma of this dish is so intoxicating it is difficult to refrain from before baking. It has a sweetness to it which will appeal to kids, no worries it’s not orange related. The flour is used to thicken the sauce. You can substitute the flour with arrowroot powder which is often used in asian dishes for that purpose.
I know what you are thinking, there are a lot of ingredients listed in this recipe which often equates to a lot of time in the kitchen.  But it doesn’t take as long as you think and it is so worth it. Give it a try!

Serves 6

3-4 potatoes, peeled
3 tbsp earth balance spread
1/3 cup flour or 2 1/2 tbsp arrowroot powder
1 1/4 cups crushed tomatoes
1 large apple (I used Macintosh), peel and then zest the meat
1/4 cup each: agave nectar, white wine, apple cider vinegar, tamari
1/2 cup each: black-eyed peas, kidney beans, navy beans (dried)
8 oz green beans, fresh or frozen
2-4 shallots, julienned, we love the taste of shallots in this so I use four of them
8 oz mushrooms, button or portabella
1 tsp marjoram
1 tsp thyme
sea salt and cracked pepper to taste

Soak beans overnight, cook next day until tender and set aside.
Preheat oven to 400°.
Thinly slice the potatoes and parboil them for 4 minutes. Set aside. In a sauce pan combine earth balance, flour, tomatoes, zested apple, agave nectar, white wine, vinegar, and tamari. Heat on low and whisk constantly until the sauce thickens and starts to boil. Simmer on low heat for 3 minutes. Add beans and remaining ingredients to sauce. Mix together and pour into a casserole dish. Leave a bit of the sauce to brush over potatoes. Arrange potatoes over mixture, slightly overlapping so that mixture is covered. Brush potatoes with left over sauce. Cover dish with foil and bake for one hour or until potatoes are tender. Remove foil for the last 20 minutes to brown potatoes, if desired.

My cooking skills and palette have evolved over the last couple of years, but I still have mishaps. Have any kitchen disasters you would like to share? Please leave a comment…