Saturday, November 13, 2010

Beans are Awesome

So, I would just like to write a quick interlude about beans. I make them all the time but I never seem to get a picture of them or the random recipes I make using them, hence putting off a post on beans, but I figure "what the hell," I will write about them anyway. I pretty much stick to making black beans because they go in almost anything (I think). I soak them all night because in my experience they still take a good 6 or more hours to cook completely, which means I have to be home or make them in a crock pot and I don't currently have a crock pot. Buying and cooking dried beans make sense to me because it is a lot cheaper and more efficient than canned beans. Anyway, while I am simmering the beans (never boil them too harshly because you end up having to add too much water, for no real reason) I usually add in a generous amount of chopped garlic as well as cumin, coriander, chili powder, salt, and pepper - also, sometimes a splash of olive oil. The last batch of bean I made I used coriander for the first time because I read this article in the Washington Post about how well coriander and cumin go together - the author was correct, together they add a wonderful savory flavor to foods.

Black Bean Soup
Once the black beans are done (they should be soft and the bean broth should be viscus), I usually made an assortment of casseroles and nacho like dishes with them. The casseroles are usually layers of beans and sautéed onions/peppers/garlic and sometimes tomatoes and/or corn layered with cheese and corn tortillas or chips, depending on what I have on hand. This time around I made a bean soup with carrots and turkey sausage that came out quite good and I served it with corn bread and sour cream. Here is a picture of it on the right.

Also, here is a basic recipe for the casserole I was talking about along with more info on how I make the beans.

Southwestern Black Bean and Rice Casserole
3 cups (approx) Seasoned Black Beans*
1-2 cups cooked rice (I used leftover rice from another meal)
1 Onion diced
½ lb. Turkey Sausage (optional)
1-2 teas. Coriander
Salt to taste
4 oz Habanera Cheddar Cheese grated
4 oz Pepper Jack Cheese grated
10-12 Corn Tortillas
Sauté diced onion and sausage in a frying pan on medium high until onion is browned and sausage is cooked through. Then add in the rice and coriander and sauté until rice has absorbed some flavor and has softened up (about 5 minutes). Mix rice mixture and beans together. Lay about 4 corn tortillas down into a lightly greased 13x9 inch pan and spoon on a layer of the bean and rice mixture and top with cheese. Repeat twice. Bake for about 20 minutes at 350°. Serve with salsa and sour cream if desired.

*I made a pot of seasoned black beans the day before to use for this. I soaked the beans overnight and then the next afternoon (when I got home from work) I drained them and started them cooking on medium heat. I put about 2 tablespoons of chopped garlic in them and about 2-3 teaspoons of cumin, a little cayenne pepper and salt and cooked them for about 4-8 hours until the beans were soft and there was a thick sauce from the beans cooking down. 

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