Mung Bean Stew

It's over! The tour is done and dusted and finally, I am back home and I could not be happier. I'm so thrilled to be getting back into my normal routine and that means lots of cooking and, of course, lots of blogging. If you don't know already, much of my cooking and blogging isn't planned. I might be half way through making a dish before realising it would make a good blog post and this mung bean stew is one of those.

I'd bought the organic mung beans around Christmas time because I thought they looked interesting and I'd never used them before. Being unfamiliar with an ingredient has never deterred me before and the mung bean was no different. I'm not entirely sure why the mung bean has evaded me until now because they are a wonderful little pulse (more like a large lentil than a bean - in my opinion). I love their olive green colour, which is what inspired me to add some tapenade - a truly great addition it transpires that completely lifted the dish and gave it a certain essential piquancy.

The faux chicken pieces are definitely optional and interchangeable - I reckon some 'sausage' pieces would work brilliantly too or indeed any meat substitute except for perhaps soya mince. Yes, definitely no soya mince. The couscous is the perfect accompaniment to the dish but I wouldn't hesitate to serve it with some brown basmati or some gorgeously nutritious quinoa.

It is such a filling yet satisfying meal and, for me at least, is a welcome change to the usual tomato based casseroles that sometimes all tend to taste very similar. The key additions in order to achieve the vibrant edge this dish displays are without a doubt the tapenade and capers. Now I know that capers (and olives) are love 'em or loathe 'em kind of ingredients but I can assure you the stew will taste of neither but merely bring out the brilliance of this unexpected gem of a dish.

I am officially back! Bring on the blogging -  whoop!

mung bean stew

1 onion

12-15 baby carrots

1 can organic tomatoes

1 can organic mung beans

1 pack vegan chicken style pieces

1 vegan friendly vegetable stock cube

1 tbsp sundried tomato paste

2 tsp vegan friendly green olive tapenade

1 tbsp capers

3 or 4 garlic cloves

1 tbsp dried thyme

sunflower oil

salt and pepper

Heat a little oil in a heavy based pan. Finely chop the onion and add to the pan. Season, cover and allow to sweat for several minutes. Mince the garlic cloves and add to pan along with the dried thyme. Cover and allow to sweat for a further 5-10 minutes.

Top and tail the baby carrots and add to pan. Cover and allow to soften for a few minutes. Add the sundried tomato paste, mix thoroughly and then pour in the chopped tomatoes. Add the stock cube and half a can of boiled water. Season, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the tapenade and simmer for another 10 minutes before adding the drained and rinsed mung beans. Roughly chop the capers and add to stew. Gently simmer for 10 minutes before adding the chicken style pieces or whatever faux meat you are using (you could also eliminate this stage altogether if you wish). Heat through, taste, season and serve with couscous or any other grain to your pleasing.

veganAine Carlin