Tag Archives: bean

Cajun Red Beans & Rice

I have a group of awesome friends and one of my favorite things about them is that we all love to cook. With the New Year and increasingly crazy schedules and tight budgets, we decided to start a supper club of sorts. Once a month, we get together and somebody teaches us how to make one of their signature dishes and everybody brings complimentary side dishes. I claimed the month of February because of Mardi Gras and my love for New Orleans food. Together we made my red beans and rice and a King cake and we munched on Cajun spiced deviled eggs, crab dip, pralines and all sorts of other goodies.

Traditionally red beans are made with andouille sausage but as a vegetarian with mostly vegetarian friends, I obviously leave the meat out. Instead I substitute one of my favorite secret ingredients: liquid smoke. It costs a whopping $2.50 at my grocery store (next to the BBQ sauce and marinades, if you’re interested) and lasts forever. It adds a little bit of oomph to dishes that usually include sausage or bacon. Can’t find it or a little afraid? Feel free to leave it out, but you’re missing out on something. As for the beans themselves, this is a recipe where you’ll really want to start with dry. You’ll end up with a really tasty dish that’s fat and cholesterol free. Not a bad way to celebrate a holiday that’s normally associated with indulgence.

Red Beans and Rice

  • 1/2 pound dried red beans, picked through
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp Cajun seasoning (I like Tony Chachere’s)
  • 1 tbsp liquid smoke (optional)
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • salt to taste
  • 4 cups cooked rice (brown or white!)
  • Tabasco (optional)

In a large pot, cover beans with an inch of water. Bring to a simmer, cover and let cook for 30 minutes, adding water if needed. Once beans start to soften, add onions, celery, garlic, Cajun seasoning and liquid smoke. Cover and simmer until beans are soft, another 30 minutes or so. Remove cover, add bell pepper,  and continue simmering uncovered. Periodically stir the beans, mushing them against the sides of the pot with the spoon until the mixture is thick and stew like, then adjust salt to taste. Serve over with rice with Tabasco on the side. Serves 4 to 6.

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Simple Lima Beans

Y’all, I feel a little silly posting this recipe. After all, it only calls for 4 ingredients. But this is hands-down my favorite way to prepare baby lima beans: the limas get to stand out, rather than being smothered in sauce, and they taste fresh and summery, even though they’re cooked from dry.

Simple Lima Beans

  • 1/2 pound dried baby lima beans
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf

(See? Only 4 ingredients!) Pick through and rinse dried beans. Then transfer to a pot, add the remaining ingredients then enough water to cover by an inch. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook until the beans are tender, about an hour. Add additional water if needed. Drain, and serve with a splash of olive oil and additional salt if desired. Serves 4.

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Lima Bean Stew

As I’ve mentioned in my menu posts, I’m making an effort to clear out my kitchen of all the food I preserved last summer before this summer’s harvest starts to flood in. One potential problem child is the 2 pounds of Christmas lima beans in my freezer, which are really pretty, but I’m suspicious of lima beans, despite never having actually eaten them before. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I used to be a picky eater and sometimes I forget that I actually like most foods once I get around to trying them. Anyways, last week I decided to bite the bullet and actually use them. I went to my boyfriend, Mark Bittman, and found a recipe for lima beans with dried fruit that used canned tomatoes, which are also taking up space in my pantry, and figured I’d give it a whirl.

Oh my goodness! These lima beans are delicious! I had them as a main course with a side salad, but I could totally see these served as side dish to roast pork.

Lima Beans and Dried Fruit Stew

  •  2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large or 2 medium onions, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ in fresh ginger, minced
  • ½ tsp cayenne or crushed red pepper
  • 24 pieces dried fruit (the recipe called for ½ apricots & plums, I used dates)
  • ½ lb lima beans, fresh, frozen or cooked from dry (weigh after cooking!)
  • 1 cup canned tomatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • salt

In a medium pot, heat oil over medium low heat. Add onions and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until very tender, ~15 minutes. Turn heat up to medium, add garlic, ginger, and pepper and cook for another 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, then cover. Cook for about 20 minutes until beans and fruit are tender. Serves 4 to 6.

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Favorite Black Beans

I was looking through my recipes and realized I hadn’t shared my favorite, very basic, black bean recipe with y’all. They’re the perfect side dish for Mexican food, make great refried beans, and show up in my lunch rotation constantly, often over rice with some guacamole and a side salad. Oh yeah, and they’re fat free. They do take a while to cook, so I tend to put a pot on to simmer while I’m doing housework or making something more immediate. The chipotle is optional, but if you like a little smoke and heat in your beans, I highly recommend it.

Favorite Black Beans

  • 1 can black beans, or 2 cups cooked with liquid
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp whole or ground cumin
  • 1 dried chipotle
  • salt to taste

Combine beans, onion, garlic, cumin, and chipotle in a medium pot, and add a cup or so of water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer, cover, and allow to cook until the onions are very tender. If beans start to look a little dry, add more water, as needed. 30 minutes is usually enough, but let them go an hour to fully develop the flavor. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Serves 4.

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Mediterranean Lentils

Today, I was reading a column in the NY Times about the challenges of going vegan. While, I’m not vegan, as a vegetarian, I have to disagree with a lot of the so-called challenges mentioned in the article. There is absolutely no need to shop at vegan-only stores or buy expensive fake meat. All my food options are available at farmer’s markets and regular grocery stores, and I spend a whopping $100 a month for this. My food philosophy is the simpler, the better, and as a result, I shop mostly on the “edges” of my grocery store. The vegan parts of my diet focuses on fruits and veggies (fresh, frozen, canned and dried), nuts, rice, and beans. In case you haven’t walked down the bean aisle lately, dried beans are incredibly cheap (usually less than $2 per pound), make a ton (I can get 16 servings out of a bag) and are naturally high in fiber and protein. A serious downside of cooking with dried beans, is, well, cooking them. Most of them take an hour or more to cook, and not everybody has the time to deal with that.

That’s where my love for lentils really began, since a pot of lentils cooks up in only 20 minutes or so. Also, by serving, they are higher in protein than most other beans. With their smaller size, they don’t suffer from that bean-y texture that a lot of people dislike. Finally, they do great with flavors from a large variety of cultures. This version I think of as my Mediterranean recipe. I serve it along side Greek salads, throw it into marinara to add a protein punch to my spaghetti sauce, and it’s perfectly welcoming to all kinds of root vegetables: potatoes, carrots, celery, fennel, beets, parsnips and turnips. If you want to make it into soup, add 2 more cups of vegetable broth.

Mediterranean Lentils

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 in ginger, minced
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 2 cups vegetable broth

Heat vegetable oil in a medium sauce pan over medium high heat. Add onion, garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant and soft, about 5 minutes. Add lentils and cook for an additional minute or two, until they are shiny. Add vegetable broth, bring to a simmer, then cook covered until lentils are tender, about 20 minutes. If the cooking liquid gets too low, add more vegetable broth or water. Serves 4.

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Black Beans with Pumpkin

As winter winds up and spring starts, I’m still trying to finish up my supply of hard squash. I love combining them with black beans with cinnamon and cumin, for a surprisingly summery taste, at least to my taste buds. The chipotle adds a hint of smoke and heat, while the citrus adds a bunch of brightness. In the end, you have a super cheap dish that’s packed with nutrition. Plus, since the beans and pumpkin are already cooked, it’s fast to prepare.

Black Beans with Pumpkin

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 dried chipotle
  • 2 cups cooked black beans, reserve 1/2 cup cooking liquid OR 1 can, not drained
  • 2 cups cooked pumpkin or hard squash OR 1 can
  • salt to taste (shouldn’t be much, especially if you’re using canned beans)
  • lemon or lime juice

In a medium sauce pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic, cumin, and cinnamon, and cook until the garlic is soft and the spices are fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add pumpkin, beans, and chipotle, stir to combine, and bring to a boil. Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes to 15 minutes. Serve over rice with a generous squeeze of lemon or lime. Serves 4.

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