A New Beans Thread
I'm trying to add more beans to my diet, especially black beans, because they're supposed to be good for me, but frankly, I don't really like them. Soups are okay, but soups feel lonely to me and not something I like cooking for the family (reminds me of my single days full of freezer-burned ziploc single packs, I guess), and I don't mind dips or spreads like hummus, but dips don't say "dinner" to me. No matter how I cook them, I just find beans mealy and a bit blah. The other issue is that I don't like the usual accompaniments - corn, red pepper, cilantro...combined with my complete intolerance for anything with heat, Latin American food is basically out.
So what to do? I made a big pot of black beans with ham stock and lots of garlic and it's delicious, but it just feels...meh. Is it a side dish? Dinner? Eating a plate of beans seems like prison rations, even though it took me all afternoon to simmer them. Help me get past this clear psychological block I have by giving me delicious recipes and ideas that don't involve corn or jalapenos.
Well, if you don't like 'em, then you don't like 'em. But if you *want* to like them and feel like it's a mental construct you want to get past, then that's a different thing. It will undoubtedly take time to make a big change. Be patient and maybe start with beans as sides and graduate to main courses.
Me? I really like beans. I grew up with a New England family who had baked beans every Sunday and it was the highlight of the week. Just beans, brown bread or homemade bread and home canned relishes and pickles. Don't know if that's something that would appeal to you but it's hearty, nutritious (if a little heavy on the molasses) and yummy.
Today, I only do baked beans occasionally in the summer as a side for BBQs. But I eat beans almost every day on a salad for lunch. Garbanzos are my go to bean. I brine them and then cook them in water seasoned with salt, aromatics and herbs. They're flavorful and have a wonderful creamy texture that canned beans can't compete with.
Are black beans more nutritious than other varieties? I don't know, personally. My recipes don't employ black beans so much but I think you could pretty much substitute one variety of beans for another at will. Likewise, leave out corn and cilantro if you don't like them. And feel free to substitute canned beans for cooked dried beans or vice versa.
My favorite ways of making beans into meals:
Castelluccio Lentils with Tomatoes and Gorgonzola
Castelluccio lentils from Umbria are tiny brownish jewels with a delicate flavor and a wonderfully tender texture. Like Puy lentils, they don’t disintegrate in the cooking, which makes them ideal for salads. You can get them from Italian or gourmet markets, or use Puy instead. This substantial dish, which is best eaten at room temperature, can be served on its own or with steamed seasonal greens such as broccolini or baby fennel.
• 5 plum tomatoes
• 8 sprigs thyme
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
• salt, for tomatoes
• 1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
• 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, best quality with real character
• 1 teaspoon Maldon sea salt
• 1 1/3 cups Castelluccio lentils
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 garlic clove, crushed
• black pepper
• 3 tablespoons chopped chervil or parsley
• 3 tablespoons chopped chives
• 4 tablespoons chopped dill
• 3 ounces mild Gorgonzola, crumble
1. To make the oven-dried tomatoes. Preheat the oven to 275°F. Quarter the tomatoes vertically and place skin-side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Arrange the thyme sprigs on top of them. Drizzle over the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with some salt. Roast for 1 1/2 hours, or until semi-dried. Discard the thyme and allow to cool down slightly.
2. Meanwhile, place the red onion in a medium bowl, pour over the vinegar and sprinkle with the sea salt. Stir, then leave for a few minutes so the onion softens a bit.
3. Place the lentils in a pan of boiling water (the water should come 1 1/4 inches above the lentils) and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, or until tender. Drain well in a sieve and, while still warm, add to the sliced onion. Also add the olive oil, garlic and some black pepper. Stir to mix and leave aside to cool down. Once cool, add the herbs and gently mix together. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
4. To serve, pile up the lentils on a large plate or bowl, integrating the Gorgonzola and tomatoes as you build up the pile. Drizzle the tomato cooking juices on top and serve.
Chickpea & Sweet Potato Curry
I doubt this is authentically Indian but it's certainly influenced by Indian curries.
It develops really complex flavors after a day so plan to do this the day before or really look forward to leftovers.
• 2 tablespoons canola oil
• 1 small onion, chopped
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 tablespoon ginger, chopped
• 1 jalapeño chile, cleaned and finely chopped
• 1 tablespoon curry powder
• 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
• 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
• salt and freshly ground pepper
• 1 large sweet potato , peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
• 1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
• 1 14-oz. can light coconut milk
• 1/2 cup water
• 1 cup cauliflower florets , bite-sized pieces
• 3/4 cup frozen peas
• 1/2 cup canned diced tomato pieces, drained
• 2 tablespoons cashews, chopped, for garnish
• 1 tablespoon cilantro, leaves only, chopped, for garnish
1. Make the curry base:
2. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the oil. Add the onion, garlic, ginger and chile and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in the spices and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
3. Cook the vegetables:
4. Add the sweet potato, chickpeas, coconut milk and water to the pan. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Raise the heat to medium-high, bring just to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the sweet potato is tender, about 10 minutes. Add the cauliflower and cook for about 5 more minutes. Add the peas and tomato and cook until heated through and the liquid is reduced to a thick sauce.
5. Serve in bowls, over rice if desired, sprinkled with parsley and cashews for garnish.
• 2 small yellow onions, peeled
• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and diced
• 2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
• 1 cup flageolets, soaked overnight if dried
• 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
• 1 bay leaf
• 1 chile de arbol or other dried chile
• 3 tablespoons butter
• 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
• 2 tablespoons brown butter
• 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
1. Preheat oven 400˚.
2. Dice half of 1 onion. In an oven proof pot, saute in oil, along with fennel & garlic for 5 minutes until soft. Add flageolets and cook 2-3 minutes. Add thyme, bay leaf, chile, and 3 c water. Cover and bake in oven until tender (approx. 1 hour, can take longer depending on your beans), seasoning with salt halfway thru baking time and adding more water if too dry. Remove from oven to cool and take out bay leaf and chile. Keep oven on.
3. Slice the rest of the onions (1 1/2) thinly and saute in a pan with butter until golden. Place them in the bottom of a 6"x6" baking dish and place flageolets (with some cooking liquids) over top. Combine bread crumbs with brown butter and parsley. Toss over beans and place in oven for 20 minutes.
4. Serve with tapenade on the side.
Oven Baked White Beans (Baked Gigantes)
• 1 lb. dried gigantes or large lima beans
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 6 cloves garlic, crushed
• 1 onion, grated
• 1 1/4 cups hot vegetable broth, plus more as needed
• 1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
• dried red pepper flakes
• 2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
• 2 tablespoons tomato paste
• 1 lemon
1. Soak the beans. To cold-soak them, cover with plenty of cold water and let them stand overnight. To hot-soak them, cover them with plenty of boiling water and let stand 1 hour.
2. Drain the beans and place them in a large saucepan. Add cold water to cover, season with 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer until crisp-tender, 30 minutes to 1 hour (the timing can vary widely and will depend on the type and age of the beans), then drain the beans.
3. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the olive oil, garlic and the onions in a baking dish and bake until the onions soften and turn golden, about 15 minutes. Add the beans to the onion mixture, stirring to coat, and return to the oven for 15 more minutes.
4. Gently stir in the hot broth, parsley, dried red pepper flakes, chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, 1 teaspoon salt and one-eighth teaspoon pepper, or to taste, and bake until the beans are tender and buttery, 20 minutes to 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes. If the mixture begins to dry out before the beans are tender, add a little more broth.
5. Before serving, season to taste and add a squeeze of lemon juice.
Notes: Gigantes beans can be found at Greek markets and select cooking supply stores. You can substitute 1 (14-ounce) can of tomato sauce or stewed tomatoes for the fresh tomatoes.
Red Lentil Curry
This is a rich and hearty lentil curry, great as a main meal rather than as a side dish like the more traditional Indian dhal. Don't let the ingredients list phase you, this really is an easy dish to make. This dish is great served with basmati rice.
• 2 cups red lentils
• 1 large onion, diced
• 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
• 2 tablespoons curry paste
• 1 tablespoon curry powder
• 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1 teaspoon chili powder
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon white sugar
• 1 teaspoon minced garlic
• 1 teaspoon ginger root, minced
• 1 (14.25 ounce) can tomato puree
1. Wash the lentils in cold water until the water runs clear (this is a very important step; don't skip or shortchange it or the lentils will clump together and release a less than pleasant froth layer), put the lentils in a pot with chicken broth to cover and simmer covered until lentils tender (add more water if necessary).
2. While the lentils are cooking: In a large skillet or saucepan, caramelize the onions in vegetable oil.
3. While the onions are cooking, combine the curry paste, curry powder, turmeric, cumin, chili powder, salt, sugar, garlic, and ginger in a mixing bowl. Mix well. When the onions are cooked, add the curry mixture (it isn't necessary to add it all if you want less spicy); you can always add more later) to the onions and cook over a high heat stirring constantly for 1 to 2 minutes.
4. Stir in the tomato puree and some coconut milk and reduce heat, allow the curry base to simmer until the lentils are ready.
5. When the lentils are tender drain them briefly (they should have absorbed most of the water but you don't want the curry to be too sloppy). Mix the curry base into the lentils and serve immediately.
Spicy Carrot and Chickpea Tagine with Turmeric and Cilantro
• 3-4 tablespoons olive or pumpkin seed oil
• 1 onion, chopped
• 3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
• 2 teaspoons turmeric
• 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1 tablespoon dark honey
• 3-4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced on a diagonal
• chicken broth
• 2 14 1/2 ounce-can chickpeas, thoroughly rinsed and drained
• sea salt, to taste
• cilantro leaves, finely chopped
• 1 lemon, cut into wedges for serving
• thick or drained yogurt, for serving
1. Heat the oil in a tagine or heavy-based casserole dish. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until soft. Add the carrots, spices, honey and salt. Pour in enough chicken broth or water to cover the base of the tagine and cover with the lid. Cook gently for 10-15 minutes.
2. Toss in the chickpeas checking that there is still enough liquid at the bottom of the tagine. Cover with the lid again and cook gently for 5-1-0 more minutes.
3. Season with salt and sprinkle on cilantro leaves. Serve with lemon wedges and yogurt.
Tomatoey Spiced Chickpeas
Chickpeas loaded with warming, aromatic spices become a hearty vegetarian dinner when served with rice, cucumber salad, and a dollop of thick, cool yogurt. Theyre also great alongside roast chicken.
• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 tablespoon ground cumin
• 1 tablespoon ground coriander
• 1 teaspoon ground ginger
• Rounded 1/4 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes
• 1 1 1/2-inch piece cinnamon stick
• 1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes in juice
• 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
• 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
• 1/4 cup finely chopped mint
1. Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, then cook cumin, coriander, ginger, red-pepper flakes, and cinnamon stick, stirring constantly, until fragrant and a shade darker, about 2 minutes.
2. Add tomatoes with juices, breaking up tomatoes with a spoon, then add chickpeas. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Discard cinnamon stick.
3. Stir in parsley and mint. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Leftovers can be coarsely mashed and fried as fritters. Serve them topped with fried eggs
Rigatoni with White Beans and Tomatoes
• 1 cup dried cannellini beans
• 6 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
• 3 cloves garlic, chopped
• 20 leaves fresh sage
• 1 1/4 pound fresh tomato, peeled, seeded, juiced and chopped
• salt and freshly ground pepper
• 1 pound rigatoni
1. Soak beans in cold water to cover for about 12 hours. Drain the beans and transfer them to a heavy saucepan. Add water to cover by about 1 inch and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer very gently until the beans are tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 1 1/2 hours.
2. When the beans have been cooking for about an hour, in a large, shallow saucepan heat the olive oil over low heat. Add the garlic and sage leave and sauté, stirring frequently, until the garlic is tanslucent, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Add the beans, cover the pan with the lid slightly ajar and simmer for 15 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, in a large pot bring 5 quarts of salted water to a boil. Add the rigatoni to the boiling water and cook until barely al dente. Drain the pasta and transfer to the saucepan containing the beans. Raise the heat to medium and stir well to coat the pasta, about a minute. Arrange on a warm platter and serve at once.
4. Note: You can substitute basil for the sage, but add with the tomatoes instead of sautéing with the garlic.
Borlotti Bean Salad
Borlotti is the Italian name for speckled cranberry beans. I buy them at an Italian deli, Cavaretti's.
• 2 cups dried borlotti, cranberry or other beans
• 3/4 cup roasted corn kernals
• 1 bunch green onions (white and green parts)
• 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
• 1/2 orange or yellow bell pepper, minced
• 8-12 cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered or cut into 1/8s
• 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
• 2 lemons, zested and juiced
• 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
• 1 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
• 1 teaspoon fresh sage, finely chopped
• 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
• 1 red onion, thinly sliced
1. Soak dried beans overnight. Cover with fresh water 2 inches above beans, bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Drain.
2. Place beans and corn in a large bowl. Mix in onions, garlic, chives, tomatoes and pepper. Make a fine julienne with lemon zest. Add zest and parsley to the bowl.
3. Stir lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper together to dissolve salt. Pour over beans and veggies and toss. Chill.
Notes: Finely diced soft salami is a good addition if you don't want to go all the way to vegetarian.
Cannelini Bean Parmesan Pancakes
These are delicious and addictive.
• 3 cups Cooked Cannelini Beans
• 1 cup Parmesan, grated and at room temp
• 3 eggs
• 1 TBS Fresh Lemon Juice
• 1 teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper, make it a coarse grind
• 1/4 cup Milk
• 1/4 cup Olive Oil
• 1 1/2 TBS All-Purpose Flour
• Pine nuts, for garnish
• Rosemary Sprigs, for garnish
• Warm Infused Oil
Warm Rosemary and Garlic Infused Olive Oil
• 3/4 cup Olive Oil (use something rich and flavorful)
• 1 Sprig Rosemary
• 1 Garlic Clove, lightly smashed and peeled
1. Combine pancake ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.
2. Heat up a non-stick or other well seasoned skillet, adding a glug of olive oil to the pan. Using a small measuring cup or good sized spoon add the batter to the pan, being sure to keep the pancakes relatively small. Think biscuit instead of frisbee. Cook on both sides, being careful when flipping, until they are golden brown. Set on a towel to remove any excess oil.
3. Arrange on a plate sprinkling with pine nuts sprigs of rosemary and drizzling with the warm infused olive oil.
4. WARM INFUSED OIL:
5. Place your ingredients in a sauce pan and heat up to a simmer, keep a watchful eye. Reduce the heat to low and allow to sit for 15 minutes before turning off. Allow the ingredients to infuse for 1 hour at the very least. I gave mine overnight. Before serving warm up the oil gently, being absolutely careful not to over heat and burn yourself. It should be warm enough when you can feel warmth radiating off of the pan. Do not, I repeat do not test it on your skin. I am sure most of you know that, but we all know there are a few who don’t.
6. Serve drizzled over my cannelini bean pancakes.
Notes: These can also be used as a base for a larger dish. Maybe topped with an herb salad, roasted tomatoes or some sort of seared seafood. As usual, the possibilities are endless.
The curry blend in this recipe gives an otherwise simple salad wonderful depth and robust flavor. Coriander and cumin lend fragrant earthiness, with a little cayenne pepper added for a hint of heat. The caramelized onions add richness, and the cilantro and lemon juice brighten the salad nicely, distinguishing the flavors. You can make it in advance; this is one salad that improves with an hour or two of chilling time.
• 1/2 cup diced onions
• 4 teaspoons best-quality olive oil
• 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
• 1/2 teaspoon cumin
• 1/2 teaspoon dried coriander
• 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice, or to taste
1. In a large sauté pan heated over medium-high heat, sauté the onion in the olive oil until deep golden and crispy, about 6 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently.
2. Add the turmeric, cumin, coriander and cayenne pepper and cook, stirring constantly, until aromatic and lightly toasted, about 3 minutes.
3. Add the chickpeas, cilantro and lemon juice and continue to stir to develop the flavors, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and season with one-fourth teaspoon salt, or to taste.
4. Cool the salad, then transfer it to a container, cover and refrigerate until chilled before serving, at least 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning and lemon juice as desired. This makes just over 3 cups salad.
Quick & Easy Curried Chickpeas
• 1 12-oz can chickpeas
• 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, lightly chopped
• 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice , or substitute lime
• 1 shallot OR 1/3 cup purple onion, minced or diced
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
• 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
• 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
• 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
• 2 Tbsp. fish sauce OR soy sauce
• 2 Tbsp. oil for stir-frying
1. Heat up a wok or frying pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 Tbsp. oil plus the shallots (or onion) and garlic. Stir-fry 1 minute.
2. Add all of the dry spices (except the pepper), plus whatever sauce you're using (fish, soy, or veg. fish sauce). Also add 1 Tbsp. water. Stir-fry together briefly.
3. Add the chickpeas and continue stir-frying until they are covered with the spice mixture and are nice and hot (about 5 minutes). If they become too dry, another Tbsp. water.
4. Remove from heat. Stir in the lemon juice, black pepper, and most of the fresh coriander.
5. Do a taste-test. Adjust the salt level by adding a little more soy or fish sauce if not salty enough. If too salty, add another squeeze of lemon or lime juice.
6. Top with any remaining coriander and serve hot with rice. ENJOY!
Tangy Sweet Garbanzo Bean Salad
• 2 cups dried garbanzo beans (or three 15-ounce cans, (or three 15-ounce cans, drained and rinsed)
• Half a preserved lemon, chopped (or 1 large fresh lemon, juice and zest)
• 1 1/2 cups celery, sliced thinly on the bias
• 1/2 cup golden raisins
• 1/4 cup roughly chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley leaves
• 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. If using canned garbanzo beans, skip this cooking process. If using dried garbanzo beans, put them in a bowl, cover them with cool water, about 1 quart; let chickpeas soak at room temperature overnight, or at least 8 hours.
2. Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans, then pour them into large pot and cover with water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until they're soft to the bite but not mushy, about an hour (longer if you don't soak them). Once garbanzo beans are done, drain and rinse them.
3. In a large bowl, combine the garbanzo beans, preserved lemon, celery, raisins, parsley, oil, vinegar and salt and pepper and toss to mix. Let sit at room temperature for at least an hour, then taste and adjust seasoning before serving.
Mediterranean Tuna Salad
• 1 can tuna, Italian style with olive oil
• 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
• 1/4 cup oil-packed ripe olives, pitted and quartered
• 3 or 4 leaves fresh basil, cut in chiffonade
• 2 cup Roma tomatoes
• 1 - 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
• 1/2 cup onion, chopped
• 1 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
• 1/2 - 1 cup miniature penne, ditalini or other small pasta, uncooked
• salt & pepper
• boiling water
1. Place tuna with the oil in a large bowl, breaking up large pieces. Add the well-drained garbanzos, the olive pieces and the basil. Set aside.
2. Meanwhile, dice tomato into about 1/4" pieces and place them in a sieve over a bowl to collect the juices.
3. In a small sauté pan over medium heat, add olive oil to coat bottom. Put uncooked pasta in the pan, stirring to coat with oil. Add onion and garlic, continuing to stir. Pour on the tomato juice that has collected, retaining tomatoes in the sieve and replacing it over the bowl to collect any additional juices. Add a good pinch of salt and several turns of freshly ground pepper to the pan. Stir while the liquid bubbles gently adjusting the heat up if necessary. Using Clotilde's risotto method, continue adding any additional tomato juices and boiling water to the pan and stirring until the pasta is cooked. Cooked pasta will have significantly increased in size, lost a good bit of its yellow color and have a pleasant soft texture.
4. Pour pasta over tuna in the bowl and toss to combine. Place in fridge to cool and allow flavors to blend. Check cooled salad for seasonings and add salt & pepper or additional basil as necessary.
5. Serve cold on lettuce leaves or in a hollowed tomato.
Notes: Nice variation on tuna salad which will be especially appealing in summer because there's no mayo.
Pork Tomatillo Black Bean Chili
• 1 cup orange juice
• 1 bottle dark beer
• 1 pound tomatillos, husked and quartered
• 1/4 cup oil
• 1 head garlic, with cloves peeled
• 1 1/2 pound pork, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
• 1 15-oz. can black beans, with liquid
• 2 large onions , chopped
• 2 pound fresh plum tomatoes, chopped
• 1 can Ortega chiles , diced
• 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, crushed
• 1 handful cilantro, chopped
• 1 lime, zest and juice
• 1/2 cup sour cream
1. Combine orange juice, beer and tomatillos. Cook 20 min. on medium heat. Set aside.
2. Heat oil in large skillet. Cook garlic cloves (yes, all of them) for 2 minutes. Cook pork in thirds adding each batch to tomatillo mixture.
3. Lightly brown onions in the skillet. Add to mixture. Add tomatoes, chilis, red pepper and cilantro. Cover and cook on low heat for 2 hours. Add beans and cook uncovered for another 1/2 hour. Adjust seasonings.
4. Mix sour cream with lime juice and lime zest for garnish. Sever with chili over hot rice.
Notes: An interesting chili with a very full, if not completely conventional flavor.
So glad if it's a useful post -- particularly for the original poster. As I said, I really love beans and it was late at night and I had time so I just went through my recipe database.
Do try that borlotti bean salad. A wonderful thing happens when you pair beans and lemon!
And, to thursday, remember to pair your beans with dairy or grains to ensure a complete protein if you're not having them with meat or eggs.
Holy Moley, rainey (holy mole? LOL) -- that comes out at 15 pages when I copy it into a word document. Thanks!
And thanks for that -- we eat our share of beans around here -- but it's nice to have such a fantastic new collection to work from.
And BONUS for all -- healthy, cheap comfort food as the weather begins to cool.
"plus one" as big bean fans. we love them for their versatility and healthfulness -- and they -- most importantly -- taste good. one can really "turn" beans in any cuisine direction.
as a southerner, when i get lonely or nostalgic, i make up some black eyed peas with bacon and fried corn pone, and things get immensely "better" with the world. ;-).
and don't forget a little epazote or baking soda (only a pinch in a whole pot) to help with the, erm, side effects of eating beans.
On that issue, patience...it takes a little while for your body to adjust to the additional roughage -- eat some extra yogurt, and it will clear up in a few weeks in most cases.
The major reason for using baking soda when cooking beans is hard water, which makes it difficult for the beans to cook thoroughly, i.e. soften. Calcium and magnesium, the salts which cause water to be hard, chemically react with some components in the beans and retard the rehydration process. 1/8 tsp baking soda in a cup of beans is plenty to speed up the softening process. Better yet, cook your beans in distilled or bottled water.
Since I've lived mostly in areas with not particularly hard water, except when I was young and living in NJ, I've never had use for baking soda in beans, and have read about it's alkaline properties destroying B vitamins. Pantothentic acid (B5) is destroyed by an alkali, as is thiamine (B1); since beans are a good source of B vitamins, it would be a shame to remove them from the nutritional equation.
My point is that if you don't have hard water, you don't need to use baking soda. Epazote is a carminative, and effectively deals with them explosive bean side effects, as can onion, coriander, fennel, garlic, parsley, marjoram and oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage, ginger and hops. I don't recommend hops in beans, thought, way too bitter.
An excellent question.
Hard water is alkaline, but creating or increasing alkalinity is not the reason for adding baking soda to hard water when cooking beans.
Dried beans and peas become tough when cooked in hard water; calcium and magnesium salts can prevent softening. Calcium ions present in hard water cause cross-linking to occur between certain molecules within the beans; the subsequent structure prevents water entering and the bean remains hard. A simple way to counteract this effect is to add baking soda to the cooking water. So although hard water is alkaline, adding sodium bicarbonate to hard water to cause a higher level of alkalinity, than what already exists, is not the point; it's more about reducing the chemical effect of calcium and magnesium salts on the beans.
Simply put, it's the chemical structure of the beans, and baking soda in the cooking water negates the effects of calcium on the beans, thereby allowing them to soften.
glad to oblige, smilingal! i had this tonight, in fact, using a small bag of the peas with snaps, along with three finely-chopped bacon slices. this is a simple prep.
sauté some diced bacon in your saucepan for the beans. (others use fatback, smoked hamhock, or diced ham for the pork component, or you can use a ham bone, but that is usually for long cooking the dried peas that have been soaked).
render most of the fat so that the bacon is pretty well done. this should be done relatively slowly, so that your bacon doesn't burn and the fat doesn't smoke (too much ;-).
add to the pot your bag of frozen peas, and add water to cover -- maybe a wee bit more. add a decent dash of salt (you may need more salt later, but you need to add some at this stage for flavor inside the bean).
cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover to cook at a low simmer until the beans are no longer al dente. don't overcook till mushy; test by pushing a bean up against the side of the pot after about 10 minutes (or a few minutes prior to the end of the recommended cook time).
eat these peas and their pot liquor with cornbread, and a little pepper vinegar splashed on top of the beans, if you'd like. maybe you want to add a good spoonful of pico de gallo on top, too. eat with your favorite soup spoon. ;-)).
cooled, the drained peas (don't waste the liquid; when heated, it is good to drink like soup!) can be mixed with all or part of a container of "fresh salsa" (pico de gallo-- fresh, not cooked!!!) from the grocery store, a splash of rice wine vinegar, and some diced celery -- if you want crunch -- for a great little salad. i don't add oil, because i use bacon in the bean prep.
(this time of year, the tomatoes in the salsa are better than i can buy to make pico myself). i keep the pico around as a staple in my fridge anyway -- it is useful in so many applications.
Glad you liked it!
I first got the recipe in a school fund raiser casserole sale. Later, I rediscovered it in one of Ruth Reichl's books as a favorite from the first restaurant she worked in in Berkeley. I think it was called The Swallow.
Anyway, I agree with you that it's a very nice variation on a typical chili. But then I'm very partial to the tart flavor of tomatillos and I think they're about perfect with pork.
I hope there's something else there that you enjoy. ;>
are you eating them just by themselves? That *is* lonely.
Beans are a worldwide food -- and it sounds like you have yourself penned into a "Mexican" frame of mind -- but there are loads of bean dishes that don't have heat or anything you've put on the "no-go" list....even from the Spanish-speaking world.
Cuban black beans are eaten over rice...which not only helps make it a little more interesting, but helps with digestion...you'd cook those in ham stock with onions and garlic and a couple of diced mild chorizos (adds fabulous flavor)
Cajun red beans and rice can be made as mild or spicy as you like...but won't be lacking in flavor or interest.
For a bean dish, have a look at a cassoulet recipe -- it's an all-day affair to make according to the traditional recipe, but there are some shortcut recipes -- and the combination of pork and creamy white beans is delicious (you can definitely move it upscale with duck and pricey Tarbais beans, but there are pork-only versions that are outstanding, too)
How about petit sale? It's a French comfort food with green lentils, a ham hock, a couple of smoked sausages, carrots and onions. (a favorite at my house)
How about black-bean chili? Again -- if you're cooking, you can control the heat.
But don't hesitate to put it over rice or another grain -- even couscous can be a good vehicle for beans -- and dress it up!
Rainey has a lot of good recipes in her post. Here are a couple more suggestions. The black bean and sweet potato stew from Epicurious is very tasty and not spicy. I never bother with making the accompanying polenta triangles, I just serve it with white rice.
Here's a nice recipe cor curried lentils with sweet potatoes and swiss chard from NY Times, I make from time to time resulting in a very happy family:
We also love a warm lentil salad with a garlicky, lemony vinaigrette from Julia Child, can't recall which book I got it from.
And check out Jamie Oliver's site for great bean cooking tips and recipes. In Jamie at Home he addresses the same points you do, namely that beans have a reputation for being boring, and he's out to change that. Here's a link:
There's lots of options for adding beans to your diet that go beyond a bowl of beans!
I was really surprised how good black beans and sweet potatoes are together. Here is a recipe for black bean and sweet potato chili that is really yummy. If you don't like spicy, I would cut down/cut out the chipotle in adobo, though.
Dinner here tonight is red beans & rice, cornbread and salad. Don't really have a specific recipe for it, though.
Do you like falafel? I've had good results with this recipe from epicurious, and you don't even have to cook the dried chickpeas (just soak them).
How about 'asian' black bean burgers? I never really use a recipe for this, but a simple way to do it would be to mash cooked black beans, mix with some bread crumbs, an egg, and a few Tbsp. of hoisin sauce (or a more complicated method of sauteeing diced onions/garlic/ginger, then turning off the heat and adding the other ingredients). Cook like a burger. For some reason I always serve this with sweet potato fries.
I have a couple of thoughts. Add a bread, perhaps a good cornbread, and a salad to the meal. This says supper to me. If you don't care for black beans, nobody says you have to fix them. I don't care for navy beans at all. I'm not much for red beans either. So I don't cook them. There are many other legumes to try.
If the beans you cook are too mushy for your taste, then there is a technique you can use to firm them up. Cook them the day before use (I use a pressure cooker), and then chill them overnight. They will be firmer the next day.
In terms of taste, different beans take seasonings differently. You can try cooking beans in chicken broth. I like to add bay leaf and peppercorns to the bean pot as well as the usual aromatics. Adding salty pork or smoked turkey can give a nice depth of flavor to the dish. You can add your favorite greens to a pot of beans in the last few minutes of cooking. You can garnish with cheese.
I'd try to add flavors that you love to your beans. But you don't have to cook black beans if you don't like them.
Wow, can i come to dinner? I reality I would only cook beans, cornbread and salad for one meal, as that is plenty of food for us. (And I've quit making cornbread, as I am eating low carb. Even a bowl of beans is stretching it for me.) But I can't give up beans completely. I love them too much.