Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Beans, Beans, They're Good For Your Heart

We all know the rest of that little rhyme, but what many people don't know is how tasty beans can be. My vegetarian friend Josh came to visit me recently all the way from Massachusetts. Of course, New Orleans isn't exactly the vegetarian capital of the United States, as I know well from my 4 hungry years as a starving vegetarian. So with shrimp, sausage, and alligator out the window we resorted to cooking our own meals at least half the time he was here. For anyone who does not already know, beans are one of the best sources of protein for animal free eaters. As such, they were the predominant ingredient in most of our meals.

The first night we cooked we made a delicious bean stew with white beans, black beans, tomatoes and onions. It was surprisingly good, considering it all came from cans (minus the onions). The recipe is super simple; just saute the onions in a little EVOO, cumin, salt and pepper and then add the two cans of beans to the pan. Make sure not to drain them first, because the bean broth is what really makes the dish flavorful. Then let it cook down (covered) for about twenty minutes until it looks like a thick sauce. Finally, add a can of diced tomatoes and spice to your liking, again cover the pan and let the stew cook down. I told you it was easy!

We ate this soothing stew along with Roti, Indian flat bread, that I find frozen at Hong Kong Market.

The next night we decided to make another Indian dish, this time with chick peas and coconut milk. We made a nice and spicy curry which we served over buckwheat soba noodles (super healthy). To make this healthy dinner just cook up some frozen veggies in a pan and add half a can of coconut milk, one can of chickpeas, some curry powder and a ton of sriracha. Cook it down for twenty minutes covered and then eat it with your favorite rice or pasta.

Both were incredibly cheap and easy to make. I was so inspired by our simple, and delightful dishes that I continued to cook with beans all week, even after Josh was long gone. However, once my animal loving friend was out of sight I did have to bring the bacon back into the picture. For breakfast I made an awesome spicy southwest burrito. Starting off with bacon fat (and small strips of bacon) I added onions, black beans, corn, and a ton of hot sauce. Then I placed that lovely mixture on my whole wheat tortilla (which of course had cheddar melted on top) and topped it all off with sunny side up eggs. It may be the best breakfast I've made all month. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.

But it wasn't as good as my final bean creation... Black Eyed Peas with Onions, Tomatoes, and Italian Sausage. This baby even passed Mackenzie's high standards. I was very proud.

All these dishes involved the same principles of cooking down canned beans with tasty spices and a few extra ingredients for added flavor and texture. I swear the hardest part of any of these was opening the cans. It's like a Sandra Lee recipe... only it actually tastes good!

Let me know if you stumble upon a great bean recipe you think I'd like and I'll try it out. Maybe I'll even make a post about it!!

1 comment: