Thursday, December 4, 2014

Recommended Recipes: Red Bean Black Bean Mix

I am happy with beans.
Dried beans in the pantry
Assure me that there is bounty in the earth
And that the world is latent with possibilities.
I am happy with the way they swirl about
in the rinsing bowl
Like hundreds of prayers
On unstrung rosary beads.
If ever I am unsure of what to do next,
I can always cook beans.

                                      ~ From “Autumn Beatitudes
                                         By Charles Kinnaird

I didn’t grow up eating beans and rice. My mother cooked black-eyed peas and Boston baked beans and in season prepared fresh field peas and butter beans.  In my adult life, however, beans and rice has become one of my comfort foods, and this red bean/black bean combination has become a family favorite. I got the idea from Laurel’s Kitchen vegetarian cookbook. She recommends certain bean combinations to increase nutritional value:

                       Red Bean Mix                                                          

          1 ¼ cups pinto beans
          1 ¼ cups kidney beans
          1 cup black beans
          1/3 cup mung beans
          1/3 cup green split peas                                                                                         

          White Bean Mix  

          2 cups limas
          2 cups small white beans
          ½ cup yellow split peas     

Laurel's Kitchen suggests that the cook season the beans to his or her own taste and also mentions that some beans will be done sooner that others, but that in a slow cooker they will all cook up fine together. I will say that with the Red Bean Mix, the mung beans and the green split peas will break down to form a thick gravy. The same is true of the yellow split peas in the White Bean Mix.

For my part, I borrowed and adapted from Laurel's Kitchen to make a simpler recipe. I take a cup of red beans and a cup of black beans, rinse them well and soak them over night. [Note:these are all dried beans. You can do the over night soak, or if you are like me and forget on occasion to put the beans in water the night before, you can always do the quick soak method in which you put them in plenty of water, bring the water to a boil, turn off the heat, cover and let them soak for an hour. After the dried beans have plumped up, pour out the old water and cover them with fresh water.]

Once I pour off the old water and cover the beans with fresh water (I bring the water line about an inch and a half to two inches above the level of the beans), I'll add some olive oil, maybe a teaspoon of two to prevent frothing. The only seasoning I use is a cube of Knorr's Vegetable Bullion (one cube makes the equivalent of 2 cups of bullion).

Bring the beans to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer. I'll usually cook them for one and a half to two hours. Watch the water level and add more if the liquid begins to boil away. When the beans are done, if I find they have too much liquid I'll partially lift the lid to let some liquid evaporate.

Serve the beans over brown rice or white basmati rice. If you like you can wrap them in a tortilla with a little rice and cheese. This has become a true comfort food in our household.


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