Monday, April 18, 2011

Beans, beans, they're good for...

Everything!  I was never much of a bean person growing up but I've learned to love them of late.  Very versatile and full of stuff that's good for you.  Fiber and protein all in one little package!  I like to buy bulk dry beans, soak them for 4-6 hours (or up to overnight) and then cook them up.  I use some of them in recipes and some I'll freeze to use when I don't have time to cook from scratch.  I think beans made from dry have much better flavor than beans from cans.  But feel free to substitute if you're short on time (just make sure to rinse them in cold water since the canned kind usually have added salt).

First I'll give you my basic recipe to cook up black beans and then I'll give you one of my recipes that uses them.  I'll post other recipes for black beans in the future.  As usual, go ahead and make substitutions or additions as you see fit! 

Basic Black Beans

2 cups dried black beans, picked over and rinsed thoroughly under cold water
1/4-1/2 large yellow onion, diced
1/4-1/2 serrano pepper, minced

After the beans have been picked over and rinsed, put them in a bowl and cover them by about 2-3 inches with cold water.  Let them soak on the counter.  I've soaked them for as short as 4 hours and for as long as overnight.  I've seen short soak methods where you boil the beans briefly and then let them soak for just a few hours.  I've also heard some people say presoaking isn't necessary at all.  This is the way I choose to do it.  I actually like them better when they soak for just 4 hours, as opposed to overnight.

After the beans have soaked, I drain them and put them in a heavy pot (I use a Dutch oven) and again cover them by 2-3 inches of water.  Then I add the diced onion and minced serrano and bring it all to a boil over high heat, uncovered.  Reduce the heat to medium low to low and simmer the beans (still uncovered) until desired tenderness.  It usually takes 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Hoorah, you have beans!  You can eat them straight up but I like to make things with them, like enchiladas.  This is a completely made up recipe and in no way is meant to be authentic Mexican food.  But we think they're super tasty!

Black Bean, Corn, and Mushroom Enchiladas

Enchilada Ingredients

grapeseed oil
garlic, minced
yellow onion, finely diced
serrano pepper, finely diced (jalapeno would work too)
mushrooms, diced (I used button, but creminis would be fine)
frozen sweet corn
cooked black beans
shredded cheese (we eat 100% grass fed cheddar that we find at Whole Foods and shred on a box grater)
corn or flour tortillas

Note that I don't list amounts because I always wing it.  You should too!  Saute the onions over medium high heat in a small amount of oil, until translucent.  Add in the garlic and serrano and saute for another minute, until fragrant.  Add the mushrooms and saute until they begin to release their juices and reduce.  Add the frozen corn and black beans and saute until warmed through.  Add cumin to taste. 

The mushrooms add a meatiness while keeping the dish vegetarian. 


Sprinkle a small amount of shredded cheese in the center of a flour or corn torilla and top that with the bean/corn/mushroom mixture. 

Enchilada Sauce

1 tsp grapeseed oil
1/4 yellow onion, diced
1/4-1/2 serrano pepper, finely diced
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
14 oz. crushed tomatoes
ground cumin to taste
sea salt to taste (optional)

Prepare the onion, garlic and serrano as you did for the enchilada filling.  Add the crushed tomatoes and simmer over low heat until slightly reduced.  Add cumin and sea salt to taste (salt is optional). 

Once the sauce has reduced to your liking, spread a small amount in the bottom of an oven proof dish.  Roll up your enchiladas and place them seam side down in the baking dish.  Cover the enchiladas with the rest of your sauce.  Sprinkle the top with shredded cheese.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or until heated through.  Serve with lime wedges and fresh cilantro for garnish.

The cheese makes this recipe a bit of a guilty indulgence for us but it is oh so good!

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