Chili bean apple jack stew was inspired by a recipe that ran in the 1977 “Moosewood Cookbook.” (Photo by Goran Kosanovic for The Washington Post)

Chili bean apple jack stew was inspired by a recipe that ran in the 1977 “Moosewood Cookbook.” (Photo by Goran Kosanovic for The Washington Post)

Savory veg bake sumptuous even with tweak

A chili-seasoned dish of red beans, tomatoes, apple, kale and cheese was inspired by a 1977 recipe.

This recipe is my spin on a favorite from the very first cookbook I owned: the “Moosewood Cookbook” by Mollie Katzen (Ten Speed Press, 1977).

That book, which I still have — its cover sun-bleached and pages spattered — fed me throughout my college years and beyond. One dish from it that I made again and again was the simply named cheese-beans, a savory, chili-seasoned bake of red beans, fresh tomatoes, chunks of sweet apple and cheese. Lots of cheese.

That heavy cheesiness is one reason I had not made it in years. But I found myself hankering for the dish recently, so I decided to take a fresh look at it and find a way to achieve its comforting, flavorful essence in a more healthful way. I’m sure glad I did, because now this sumptuous bake is officially back in my life.

My strategy was not to eliminate the cheese; it is an essential element that brings all the ingredients together as it melts, and it provides an unmistakable sumptuousness. But here, it is a supporting player rather than the lead.

That’s reflected in the name I gave it. I flipped it, putting the beans first and jack — as in Monterey Jack — at the finish. I kept the apples, tomatoes and seasonings from the original recipe, but upped the vegetable ante with a few handfuls of chopped kale, which fit in so seamlessly it was like it belonged there all along.

I also made the recipe more convenient by cooking it all in one Dutch oven rather than transferring the mixture to a casserole dish. The resulting stew is simple autumnal goodness, a tasty tribute to the past with a sensibility that’s just right for today.

Chili bean apple jack stew

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, diced (1½ to 2 cups)

2 teaspoons chili powder

1½ teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon powdered mustard

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

⅓ cup pale lager beer, such as Corona

4 cups packed chopped baby kale leaves

3 (15-ounce) cans no-salt-added red kidney or pinto beans, drained and rinsed (about 5¼ cups)

2 large golden delicious or jonagold apples, unpeeled, cored and diced

4 medium tomatoes, diced

4 ounces (1 cup) packed grated Monterey Jack cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, stir in the onion and cook for about 3 minutes, until translucent.

Stir in the chili powder, salt, powdered mustard and pepper. Add the beer, then the kale; cook for about a minute, stirring, until the greens have wilted.

Remove from the heat; stir in the beans, apple and tomato. Top with the cheese. Cover and bake (middle rack) for 35 to 40 minutes, until warmed through, the apple is tender and the cheese has melted.

Serve warm. Makes 6 servings (or 7½ to 8 cups).

Nutrition per serving (using all kidney beans): 400 calories, 21 grams protein, 56 grams carbohydrates, 12 grams fat, 5 grams saturated fat, 15 milligrams cholesterol, 430 milligrams sodium, 15 grams dietary fiber, 12 grams sugar.

Talk to us

More in Life

This image provided by Higgins Design Studio shows an open Murphy bed. (Mentis Photography/Higgins Design Studio via AP)
Pandemic-era design solution from the past: the Murphy bed

The beds that emerge from a wall to instantly transform a living room into a bedroom date from more than a century ago.

R.J. Whitlow, co-owner of 5 Rights Brewery, has recently expanded to the neighboring shop, formerly Carr's Hardware. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
County craft breweries’ past lives: hardware store, jail

Most breweries in Snohomish County operate in spaces that formerly housed something far different — from boat builders to banks.

Red apples with leaves isolated over white background. Gala apple. Top view
Everything you never wanted to know about fruit tree pollination

If your trees are blooming and not setting fruit, the most likely culprit is poor pollination.

Cryptomeria japonica “Sekkan-sugi”
Great Plant Pick: Cryptomeria japonica “Sekkan-sugi”

If you love golden foliage, the golden Japanese cedar is for you. When planted against a dark green backdrop, it shines like a beacon.

Moving eyes add interest to an antique clock. This blinking-owl clock sold for $1,900 at a Morford's auction in 2021.
These antique clocks have shifty eyes that move with time

More modern moving-eye clocks include the Kit-Cat clock, a fixture in nurseries since 1932.

Heroes.jpg: Characters in the fantasy world in “She Kills Monsters” at Red Curtain Arts Center, running Jan. 28-Feb. 13, include (front row) Erin Smith as Lilith, Katelynn Carlson as Kaliope; (middle row) Marina Pierce as Tillius, Lucy Johnson as Agnes; (back row) Daniel Hanlon as Orcus.
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

Dungeons & Dragons collides with reality in “She Kills Monsters” at Red Curtain Arts Center in Marysville.

Caption: Stay-at-home parents work up to 126 hours a week. Their labor is valuable even without a paycheck.
A mother’s time is not ‘free’ — and they put in 126-hour workweeks

If you were to pay a stay-at-home mom or dad for their time, it would cost nearly $200,000 a year.

Linda Miller Nicholson from Fall City, Washington, holds up rainbow pasta she just made in the commercial kitchen at her Fall City home, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2021.  The rainbow wall behind her is in her backyard. (Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle TImes/TNS)
This King County woman’s rainbow pasta signals her values

Linda Miller Nicholson sculpts colorful noodles that reflect her personality and pro-LGBTQ+ pride.

CloZee performs during the second day of Summer Meltdown on Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019 in Darrington, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
The psychedelic fest Summer Meltdown is back — and in Monroe

The music and camping event is on for July 28-31, with a new venue along the Skykomish River.

Most Read