The Humble Bean
I'm inspired of late by the appeal of the humble bean. I think consuming more of it might just be the ticket (at least one of) to eating healthier, in terms of less meat, and more frugally.
Now all I need is your best bean recipes! Chili, soups, dips, and beyond. I'm hoping to get a good chain that will serve as a resource to the whole cooking group.
I'll toss out a few ideas. My kids love split pea soup, which is one of the easiest things I can make. Chopped mire-poix, sauteed in a little oil. A little bit of pork in there - either ham or bacon, whatever I've got. Then I throw in a bag of rinsed peas, 2 cans of chicken broth (or homemade if I have it), 2 cans of water, a bay leaf, some thyme, and let it go about an hour. S&P. If it's too thick add water.
Hummus. Chick peas in the food processor with a little evoo, some ground cumin, a little tahini, generous lemon juice, season. Process till smooth.
I once took some chick peas (canned), threw them on a baking sheet, tossed them with a bit of spice mix (I don't recall what exactly but it was likely s&p, garlic, something spicy), and roasted them slow until they got crunchy. Very good snack!
And of course the quintessential chili. I make mine with ground turkey, browned with onion, bell and jalapeno peppers. Add a couple cans of beans, a can of chopped tomatoes, chili powder, and a bit of water. Simmer the whole thing for an hour or so.
Oh, and baked beans! My husband makes these so I don't know the exact recipe, but it involves bacon, mustard, and molasses. And hours in the oven!
I generally rely heavily on canned beans, but can probably save a mint by using dried, and soaking.
For anyone wanting to try new "old" beans, check out www.ranchogordo.com and www.purcellmountainfarms.com for wonderful heirloom beans to order on line. They
have fabulous selections of many kinds you'll have trouble finding unless you have
terrific ethnic markets in your area.
I love beans...so nutritious and satisfying. Some great Spanish dishes with beans are Spinach and Chickpea Stew (Potaje de garbanzos y espinacas), Beans with clam (Fabes con almejas), Sopa de lentejas (Lentil soup), and Asturian style Stew (Fabada Asturiana). Like most bean dishes, I think their flavors improve greatly the day after making it (and even the day after that). The Fabada is the richest of the dishes due to the inclusion of morcilla (blood sausage) and chorizo, but very satisfying.
Check out your library for Indian and Persian (Iranian) cookbooks. Both cuisines make fabulous use of beans/lentils/pulses. For instance, supermarket yellow split peas: Cook half a cup in twice as much salted water with a pinch of tumeric until soft (under an hour, maybe half an hour, depends); in a small skillet heat a spoonful or two of oil until very hot, add a pinch (or more) cumin seeds, when they pop and sputter add some minced garlic (and sliced green chili, optional), when garlic is golden toss entire contents into peas. (Optional: serve with lime wedges.) And this is a bastardized version, delicious anyway.
Probably my favorite bean dish is Hoppin' John, a classic black-eye pea, rice, and meat scraps (usually pork) dish. And of course, cassoulet, even in its Americanized versions (using chicken thighs and kielbasa instead of more authentic ingredients). Another favorite is fasolia gigantes, Greek giant beans, which look like limas but are actually a large white runner bean. I bought them first at a Greek market in Milwaukee. The proprietess told me to cook them with onions and garlic and white wine and olive oil and water and sage. Most Greek recipes I've seen include tomatoes and often sausage. But they were very good without the tomatoes and sausage. And one bean recipe I haven't got (yet) is for a Korean dish with brown rice and adzuki beans that is very, very good. Costco recently had a huge bag of golden-colored Peruvian beans for sale. I look forward to trying them. I've always said that if the book of Genesis had been in written in the New World, there would have been a day of creation for beans and corn.
Also, Gooseberry, one of the Chowhounds, some time back mentioned bean fritters in one of the threads. And Indian cookery uses beans in a wide variety of ways that shouldn't be missed.
I made a version of this anasazi bean dish last night, and liked it: http://www.ellenskitchen.com/recipebo...
I skipped the corn and celery, and probably used less liquid. I used half the garlic called for-- my garlic was pungent and the full amount would have been awful. I used chicken broth. I used the quick boil then soak technique, dumped that liquid, and then cooked the beans with all of the flavorings. My tomatoes weren't awesome so I threw some dried ones into the pasilla sauce. I baked the finished beans with cheese and ate them with arepas. It was fun to make.
I recommend trying the pressure cooker with your beans. Doing this gives me an excellent pot of beans. I love chef chicklet's idea of using smoked pork chops with them. I will try that for mine. I like to use homeade chicken broth, if I have it, aromatics, spice and herbs. If you find your own blend of herb and spice, you can fine tune the taste to your liking.
I like making lentils. Even though directions tell you not to soak lentils, I learned from a good Indian home cook, that you should soak them for fastest cooking. I like to cook them in broth, if I have it, and mix them before serving with a spinach and onion mixture. I like to serve this with chipotle hot sauce and good cooked rice. You saute the onion in good olive oil, and then fold into the pan the washed fresh spinach. When the spinach is just wilted, you add the cooked lentils. Don't mix too much. Serve with rice.
I most often prepare black beans:
Wash (dried) beans, sautee diced onions, pour in beans and stock (yes, you can cheat--use cannned if you like. If you use cubes, use water and add cubes at the end), toss in dried African game meat, diced tomatoes, and chopped cilantro. Bring to boil, simmer til done. Puree at least a cup of the beans and add back in. Serve with rice.
Thanks for the link - I'll be exploring it later today. My 6 y.o. boy has at times in his life been extremly openminded and extremely picky. He's somewhere in the middle currently. But his love of rice and beans has endured the test of time. The fun thing has been explaining to him that so many cuisines have a different version of beans and rice - he seems to enjoy them all!
Spanish rice and refried beans.
Basmati and daal.
Creole/cajun red beans w/rice and sausage.
Steamed rice and edamame!
My mother made this Lima Bean Soup, and there was never a precise recipe. Note that dry lima beans reconstitute into a creamy butter bean, not the smaller green lima that many people don't like. Makes nearly 4 qts of soup:
1 large lamb shank, the size of a man's fist
2 large onions, diced
3 big ribs of celery, sliced 1/4" thick
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 large carrots, sliced/diced
1 16-oz bag dried lima beans, rinsed and picked over
1 large bay leaf
S & P to taste
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a stockpot over med-high heat, sear the lamb shank on all sides. Add onion and garlic and stir to deglaze. Add the bay leaf, 3 qts water, and the lima beans. These are not presoaked - some of them will split in cooking, and thicken the soup naturally. Reduce heat to medium and simmer. After an hour, add celery and carrots, continue simmering until beans are soft and meat is falling from bone. Remove shank and shred the meat before returning it to the pot. Season to taste. Soup will thicken considerably once cooled.
Optional: To deepen the color of the broth, add your choice of soy sauce, beef base,
or powdered onion soup mix before seasoning.
On lima beans: I recently had a "lima bean soup" that sounded similar, but interestingly, it deployed fresh cilantro. Weird? Wonderful? I don't know, but I ate every drop, if that helps. Wonder if anyone has a recipe like that?.... (I don't eat meat, incidentally.)
Garbanzos, canned rinsed, are always good in pasta, too. Or "fried" in a little oil and cayenne or cumin so they kind of pop.
If I'm feeling really lazy (and cheap) I make "chili" with canned black beans, garlic, chopped onion and a can of good-quality tomatoes. Sprinkle with cheese, crema or sour cream, and tortilla chips and.. yum! Not as good as properly prepared chili, but a great fast weeknight meal that's good for you, too.
REFRIED. Mash up canned beans or soaked and cooked beans in a pan with a little oil (or lard, if you want to be authentic), fresh garlic, finely chopped onion and spices of your choice. Cook through, top with crumbled cotija cheese. With rice, it's a complete meal -- and a complete protein. I add veggies to the rice for a well-rounded meal.
We also take refried beans and slather them, and some oaxaca cheese, on flour tortillas, which we cook until melty. Bean quesadillas! Delicious.
I'm definately trying this soup - it sounds wonderful!
On limas - I actually love them. Not a hater at all. And you reminded me of a lovely - though not super healthy - recipe I have in my James McNair Rice cookbook - based on a Persian rice dish. I think you need to soak some long grain rice overnight, then mix in some frozen limas, a lot of chopped fresh dill, a bunch of melted butter, and cook it in a covered pot, domed, on low heat. The rice steams will all the water it has absorbed, and the butter makes the bottom very crunchy and wonderful. I love this stuff, even on the second day when a bit of the crunch has gone away.
re: chef chicklet
I can only guess... but if you've done beans in a heavy pot on slow and low before, I would imagine. I would keep an eye for scorching, if that happens it ruins the beans... so I started these in the crockpot at about 10am and then turned them off, at 6pm. then turned them back on yesterday morning at 8am to cook a little longer.
Gosh Sasha thinking about your question, people have been cooking beans for years in pots. So I'd try it!
I have to say this turned out to me my best pot of pink pinto beans.
I thought I put it in but it looks like I left out that I chopped fine 2 stalks of celery, that went in the same time as the second set of diced onion.
I'm cooking and enjoying lots of beans lately. Cooked at home is soooo much superior to canned. And they're super easy to do on the stovetop.
Put beans in water in a heavy pot with a pinch of ground ginger and a pinch of granulated garlic. You want about 4 times as much water as beans. No salt in the soak. Bring just up to a boil. Turn off and leave overnight or for several hours until the water cools completely.
Drain the beans and refill the pot with water, half of an onion, a rib or two of celery, a carrot or two and a clove of garlic. Put in a couple teaspoons of salt and a few peppercorns. Bring just up to a boil and turn down to the lowest simmer your stove top is capable of. You don't want the water to be moving at all. Cook for, probably, a couple hours but start checking at 90n minutes. You want al dente. Drain, discard the veggies & peppercorns (my dogs love this!) and use or refrigerate.
My favorite thing is a salad. I toss the warm beans with vinaigrette then add anything that strikes me. I like something crisp like thin cross sections of celery or fennel. Something colorful like crosswise sections of cherry tomatoes and/or thinly slice red, yellow or orange bell pepper. Something creamy like bocconchini. Don't forget slice green onions or minced shallot. Adjust the flavor with salt & pepper and herbs. Brighten the flavor with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice.
Another favorite salad is white beans (canellini or limas) with tuna and a lemon-based vinaigrette. Some chopped dill. It's simple, satisfying and delicious. You'll never think tuna & mayo again! And beans really come alive with the flavor of lemon.
I also -- when I want just a few beans for something -- do them in the microwave. I soak as above and then put a few beans in a large glass canning jar with seasoned water (only about half full). I turn on the microwave for a couple minutes to boil. Then I just let them sit in the microwave until the water cools and taste test. If they need more cooking I repeat.
Here's my most recent salad of flageolets with spinach http://www.flickr.com/photos/75667634...
I love beans first of all. They are right up there with my potato love...
I make a lot of different beans, for the pink pinto I think I did them best by cooking them for two days in the crockpot...
I have spent the past two days making pinto beans. Here are the steps and ingredients... since I didn't write them down I am strictly retracing my steps from memory..
1 package cleaned picked over rinsed, then soaked in water- pinto beans
In a crockpot. pour the beans in on high with soaking liquid. Add a medium finely diced onion and 4 cut up garlic cloves. Add salt and pepper/ I add this initial stage about 1 tsp of sea salt and fresh cracked pepper.
1/2 cup of ham -leftover from trimmings-not needed
Let this simmer for 4 hours. Check the liquid add more water, and chicken broth if you have it. Add 2 T knorrs chicken boullion
4 big bay leaves
2 T Ancho chili
3 New Mexico - both chiliis are ground, in powdered form
I got good heat from this amount
Let this cook more for another couple hours
Dice another onion small ( I used a large white small dice) added 4 more cloves garlic and 2 stalks of celery small dice
2 T cumin -I use Indian -better price and fresh cumin flavor
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 red bell pepper small dice and 1/2 green small dice
the idea is that all the veggie cook down, there is no chuncks of veggies/
On the second day, i added two smoked pork chops- I usually add ham hocks, I was actually pretty pleased with the smoked pork chops, less fat and not too smokey. I cubed them after they cooked for awhile,left the bones in till serving/
Then I added 2 T about of Mexican oregano, rub between your hands it crumbles it nicely, cook it too long, it gets bitter.
The second day around 11 am they were ready, and I remove the bones and the bay leaves, with a potato masher and begin mashing the beans to thicken the pot. I don't break up all the beans, but this helps with creaminess and thickens the beans-just the way I love them!
scallion, red onion or whatever
avocado with lime quarter
cheese -you pick
hot sauce-Tabasco or Crsytal would be my choice, served with cornbread!
89 cents for about 10 servings, maybe more....serve with ice cold corona, with lime.
re: chef chicklet
chef chicklet, we had your pink pinto bean stew for supper tonight and it was just outstanding. I used smoked pork neck bones for flavor/meat, and served the stew with a dollop of sour cream and some lime. Also, freshly fried johnny cakes with lots of honey. The plan was to serve with more accompaniments (avocado, cilantro...) but at supper time I was lazy and it was so good that it didn't matter.
I'm sorry to say that I didn't have Mexican oregano or bell peppers (but I did grind up some poblanos, which was really fun for me) but there was flavor galore and we really enjoyed your beans along with some nice cold beer! We'll have this again, in fact, we have a friend that I want to make this for, I think he'll love it.
Thank you for this terrific recipe.