Editor’s Note: We have been asking readers what they are cooking, and why, while shut up at home. This week, reader Windham resident Elizabeth Oatley wrote to tell us about her adventures with a new cookbook by Washington Post Food and Dining Editor Joe Yonan. 

“A few years ago I started eating less meat, and last winter I decided I needed some new bean recipes. In the Feb. 14, 2020 issue of the New York Times, Sam Sifton wrote a column that made passing mention of Joe Yonan’s new cookbook, ‘Cool Beans.’ I quickly put in my interlibrary loan request and I picked it up March 14th. I actually still have it because that Monday the library shut down — no borrows, no returns, no fines. I’ve been able to really get into it.

“I envisioned doing kind of a “Julie & Julia” thing and cooking my way through the book. I quickly realized that I couldn’t do that and still practice the “social isolation” which, as a senior, I took very seriously. My next plan was to start with those recipes for which I had ingredients or good substitutes on hand.

“In ‘Cool Beans’ Joe Yonan strongly recommended beans sold by Baer’s Best, which are grown in South Berwick, Maine. The fact that they’re local made them even more appealing to me. I contacted Baer’s and ordered several varieties to keep me stocked for my progress through “Cool Beans.” However, I made this bean bourguignon with State of Maine Beans because that was what I had on hand.

“I served the dish first over white rice. The next day I served it over mashed potatoes. Both were great.”



From “Cool Beans” by Joe Yonan. I made a few adjustments so I could use what I had around and avoid the grocery store, using 1 small onion, chopped, in place of the shallots; 1 teaspoon dried rosemary in place of the fresh; and Jacob’s Cattle instead of kidney beans. Also, I had just 1 cup of wine, so I filled it out with stock.

Kidney Bean and Mushroom Bourguignon. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Oatley

Serves 6

2 tablespoons vegan butter or dairy butter
1 pound cremini mushrooms cut into ½” pieces
6 large shallots, halved lengthwise
2 carrots, cut into ½” coins
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon flour
1½ to 1¾ cups dark red wine, preferably Zinfandel or Cabernet Sauvignon
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3½ cups cooked or canned no-salt-added red kidney beans (from two 15-ounce cans), drained and rinsed (Jacobs Cattle)

Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften and exude their liquid and all but about ½ cup of the liquid evaporates, about 10 minutes. Transfer the mushrooms and their juices to a small bowl.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter to the pan. Stir in the shallots and carrots. Cook until the carrots begin to soften and the shallots start to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute, then sprinkle in the flour and stir to coat.

Pour in 1½ cups of the wine, add the tomato paste, and stir to incorporate. Cook until thick, 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir in the beans and the cooked mushrooms and their juices and cook until warmed through, about 2 minutes. If the sauce has thickened too much, stir in up to another ¼ cup of the wine to loosen. Taste and add more salt and/or pepper if needed.

Serve warm.

filed under: