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White Bean Stew with Porcini and Winter Squash

Here, sweet winter squash, earthy mushrooms and woodsy fresh sage mingle in a warming meatless stew. The only accompaniment needed is crusty bread. For dessert, set out wheat meal biscuits, sliced pears and a rich, creamy cheese.

Ingredients:

  • 2 to 2 1/2 oz. dried porcini mushrooms  
  • 3 cups very hot water 
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil  
  • 2 yellow onions, finely chopped 
  • 2 serrano chilies, seeded and minced 
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh sage 
  • 2 lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces 
  • Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 
  • 2 cans (each 15 oz.) cannellini beans, with liquid 
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth 
  • Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley for sprinkling 

Directions:

Place the dried porcini in a sieve and rinse briefly with cold water. Transfer to a small bowl and add the very hot water. Let soak until the mushrooms are softened, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onions, chilies and sage and sauté until the onions are tender, about 8 minutes. Add the squash, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until the squash starts to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the cannellini beans with their liquid and the broth.

Set a fine-mesh sieve over a small bowl. Drain the porcini in the sieve, pressing out as much liquid as possible from the mushrooms. Add the liquid to the pot. Chop the porcini and add to the pot. Simmer until the squash is tender and the flavors blend, about 20 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.

Ladle the stew into warmed bowls. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

Quick Tips: For a heartier meal with extra protein, add sausage slices, chopped pancetta, a ham hock or diced smoked turkey. If using a ham hock, simmer it whole in the stew, then remove the meat from the bone, chop it and stir the chopped meat back into the stew. If you like, rosemary could replace the sage.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Weeknight Fresh & Fast, by Kristine Kidd (Williams-Sonoma, 2011).