Posts tagged ‘black beans’
It may sound dramatic, but my pressure cooker changed my life.
I self-identify as a “reduced meat consumer.” For ethical reasons I have chosen not to buy meat. (Ok, I cheat from time to time. We’ll buy fish on occasion). I never reject food that someone else has prepared for me, especially in cross-cultural situations. However, when I’m cooking in my home, the food is almost exclusively vegetarian. Nuts and beans are the primary source of protein in our household.
For years, we’ve had bags of dry beans in the pantry. I can remember my though process at the grocery store when I bought them. “I hate having to buy so many cans of beans. Dry beans are cheaper to buy, and it cuts down considerably on waste. They don’t have all the added sodium either. I should cook dry beans more often! In fact, I’m going to start right now.”
I resolutely grab a bag or two off the shelf. I bring them home and put them in the pantry along with all of my great ambitions. Ambitions must be like a wine that gets better with age, because the beans usually sat unopened in the pantry for months upon months.
The problem with dried beans is that cooking them requires an inordinate amount of foresight. Ideally, they soak overnight, then simmer for 2 hours until tender. It’s entirely impractical. I can cook, eat and do the dishes in 2 hours. I don’t have that kind of patience. Furthermore, I inevitably forget to soak them the night before. Sure, some legumes cook quicker than others. Lentils used to be a staple for this reason, but after a while I got tired of lentils. Lentils also don’t substitute for black beans or chick peas well at all.
Alas, I resigned myself to buying canned beans.
Until my wife met a family from the Middle East. They cooked beans all the time in a pressure cooker. “And it only takes like 15 minutes!” wifey exclaimed. (An exaggeration perhaps, but not an egregious one). So we asked for a pressure cooker for Christmas.
It revolutionized my world.
Skip the 12 hours of soaking and 2 hours of simmering. My pressure cooker cooks beans in 30 minutes. Even gigantic fava beans only take about 45 minutes. Brown rice cooks in 20.
Now those abandoned bags in the back of the cupboard are getting consumed in a timely fashion. We even started buying beans in bulk (15 lbs., last time).
The pressure cooker should be a vital part of the vegetarian’s kitchen. If you don’t have one, get one asap.
This has become an absolute staple in our house. It’s cheap, healthy, low in fat, high in fiber, delicious. We affectionately call it, simply, “corn ‘n’ bean.” For the black beans, we use a pressure cooker to cook dry beans, but you can use canned beans. The spice mix for this recipe is the key.
2 parts cumin
2 parts coriander
1 part cinnamon
4 c black beans (2 cans)
2 c corn (1 can)
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 c salsa
4 T corn’n’bean spice mix
Chili, salt, pepper to taste
In a large frying pan, saute the onion in olive oil. 3 minutes before the onions are done, add the garlic, spice mix, chili, salt and pepper. Then, add the beans, corn, salsa and simmer for 10-15 minutes until most of the liquid cooks off.
Put in tortilla with cheese, kefir, and Sriracha.
I was in a wedding this past weekend. One of the bridesmaids mentioned that she’s started making one of our house recipes after learning it from the groom. It made me think about how much I love our house recipes, and how so many more people should know about them.
They are the ultimate budget recipes, carefully honed over several years to yield the most nutrition for the lowest price. Each one contains a good balance of protein to carbohydrates, and each one can feed a person for less than a dollar. Filling, nutritious, flavorful and extremely inexpensive, they are the belong in every miser’s cookbook.
All of these recipes will feed two people and can be made in 15 minutes tops. All of them can also be improvised upon by adding sauted vegetables: Onions, garlic, celery, green pepper, mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, zucchini, squash, corn or really anything else you happen to have laying around. If fresh produce is too expensive, use a bag of those frozen mixed chopped veggies from the grocery store. Adding spices is always a good idea, too. I usually add some variation of cumin, coriander, curry and whatever else I feel like adding on a whim from the cabinet.
Also, all of these are exponentially improved by adding as much Sriracha as you can possibly stand.
Spicy Peanut Rice
This recipe is similar to Thai Spicy Peanut Chicken… minus the chicken and expensive specialty ingredients like galanga or fish oil.
1 c. rice
4 spoonfuls of peanut butter (crunchy and natural are best)
Hot sauce to taste (preferably Sriracha)
Cook the rice in a saucepan. When the rice is about 2 minutes from being done, spoon the peanut butter over the top of it, so that it starts to melt. When it’s finished, pour about twice as much hot sauce as you can bear over it (the fatty protein of the peanut butter takes a lot of the edge off of it). Mix thoroughly and enjoy.
This is the essential Ashram House recipe. It is our brainchild and our staple. True, it’s a bit non-traditional, but it is sooooo good. Don’t knock ’til you try it.
1 box of macaroni and cheese (preferably Annie’s shells, don’t ever buy Kraft)
1 can of black beans
Splash of milk
Cook the macaroni shells. While they cook, mix the cheese powder with the milk until it’s creamy. Drain most of the liquid from the can of black beans. Heat over a skillet until hot. When cooked, drain the shells and add the cheese. Then add the beans and mix.
Beans and Rice
Our first budget recipe. Simplistic and good, it leaves plenty of room for improvization.
1 c. of rice
1 can of black beans
Cook the rice. Drain most of the liquid from the can of black beans. Heat over a skillet until hot. Spoon over the rice.