Cooking beans without fat or salt

My husband challenged me to come up with a recipe using dried beans without salt or fat – using only herbs and spices. Can you help?

I like a cooking challenge. Here is a recipe to serve four hungry people. You should be able to adapt it to cook in hotel pans and serve lots of people. Not only is it low fat and salt free, but it is an appealing main dish from an Italian province.

1 cup dried white kidney beans OR Great Northern beans
1 bunch scallions (5 to 6), trimmed and cut 1 inch
2 cloves garlic, chopped (2 teaspoons)
1 cup peeled baby carrots
1 red sweet pepper, seeded & cut into 2 inch pieces
1 medium zucchini squash, washed, trimmed and sliced 1/2 inch
1 box (10 ounces) frozen broccoli florettes, thawed
1 can (14.5 ounces) whole tomatoes
1 cup vegetable broth
½ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
8 ounces fresh button mushrooms, cleaned and trimmed
2 cups fresh baby spinach
20 melba toast rounds, flavored or plain
3 tablespoons shredded Romano cheese

1.In a three-quart pot, cover beans with four cups water. Bring to a boil and cook for two minutes. Remove pot from heat and let beans stand in water, covered, for one hour. Drain and discard soaking liquid. Cover beans with four cups fresh water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 1½ hours. Add hot water as needed to keep beans submerged. Drain beans and discard cooking liquid.

2.In a large , non-stick pot, dry-fry scallions, garlic, carrots and red pepper two minutes over medium-high heat. Add zucchini, broccoli, tomatoes with juice, vegetable broth and Italian seasoning. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer five minutes. Add cooked beans, mushrooms and spinach. Stir to blend and continue simmering for an additional two minutes.

3.With a large, slotted spoon, remove all vegetables from pot to a large, shallow casserole dish. Level top of vegetables. Place melba rounds on the vegetables, overlapped, around the outer edge of the casserole. With a large solid spoon, drizzle hot tomato broth over the melba rounds, moistening each piece. Sprinkle Romano cheese over the vegetables and the melba rounds. Place casserole, uncovered, in a 350° F oven. Bake 20 minutes before serving. Serves four.

Note: If you want to do this the easy way, use drained canned beans in place of the cooked beans.

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