Posts Tagged ‘Beans’
So, things have been going. Some more than others, but everything’s been going. I’m in the midst of a deadline for the first draft of my thesis—which! I have promised myself not to whine on about on here because really, I can barely stand the endless amount of lamenting from my peers regarding their theses and academic pressures and figuring out which one of their many life options they should pursue following graduation blah blah blah and I’m one of them, so I can only imagine what it must seem like to any “outsiders.” (And in case you’re wondering, by outsider I mean irrelevant normal people in the real world, obviously.) But, seeing as that thesis and those other life worries have basically been swallowing my life whole in periodic cycles throughout this semester, I’m sure all of that is bound to make it’s way on this blog in some way. Like it just has in this whole paragraph.
Another way it’s going to show up: through this photo that can accurately be titled both “As a break from writing on a Saturday night I tried to clean my room” or “I have too many books/magazines”—depending on how you want to look at it.
In other news, I’m thinking I should start a new feature on this blog: Mushy Humble Peasant Dishes that Make Me Feel Frugal and Satisfied. I’m joking, but it certainly feels like I’ve already started something like that, doesn’t it? I’m still in the mode where, when I head to the store, all I feel like grabbing from the shelves are vegetables. The only thing I feel like doing with them when I get home is cooking them is either roasting them or cooking them on the stove top until they’re mushy enough to puree in a soup, or in this case, spoon over a big pile of rice.
I think I’ve mentioned it briefly once before, but my boyfriend’s going to school in Beirut, Lebanon right now. Because he knows it makes me happy, during our nightly chats he’ll often tell me what he cooked for dinner or ate at a restaurant out with friends. For example, he’s already mentioned to me four times now how delicious crushed up mint leaves are in green tea (it gets all cloudy and delicious, he says), and he loves describing the mezze plates he shares with friends. One night, he praised a dish his roommate had made to share between the two of them. He described it as green beans “with the stems ripped off” (ha ha) stewed with onions and spices and tomatoes. He called it loubieh, and apparently it’s a pretty big dish there. Coincidentally, I had had this Saveur recipe for green beans stewed with chickpeas and tomatoes for quite a while.
It’s easy, really, and the process is not much more than how Waylon described it. I liked the idea of adding in chickpeas, as as the Saveur recipe indicated, so I went along with it. But seriously, not much more is going on than some vegetables bubbling away in a pot for about an hour. Season well, use good spices, good olive oil—and don’t be stingy with it—and you’ll end up with a plate of good things going on. It’s things like this meal, or the sun that has been peeping through clear skies in the morning, that have been the ones that are “going.” But I guess when you’ve got a good plate of food for dinner and a little sunshine, the other things don’t feel so overbearingly idle, at least momentarily.
One Year Ago: Juicy Blood Orange Cake
Lebanese-Style Stewed Green Beans with Chickpeas (Loubieh Wa Hommus)
Adapted from Saveur
Serves 4 to 6
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspons cumin seeds
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon paprika
1 1/2 pounds green beans, cleaned and trimmed
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 (28-ounce) can whole, peeled tomatoes with juice
In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add in cumin seeds and cook, stirring often, for about 1 minute. Add the garlic and onion, season liberally with salt and pepper (talking about at least a teaspoon of kosher salt), and cook, stirring freqently, until the onions are soft and lightly browned, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Add the tomato paste and paprkia and cook, stirring often, until the tomato paste is slightly caramelized and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the green beans, chickpeas, 2 cups of water, and the tomatoes, making sure to crush the whole tomatoes with your hands as you add them. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the pot mostly with a lid (leave room for steam to escape). Simmer, stirring about every 10 or 15 minutes, until the beans are very tender, about 50 minutes to 1 hour. Turn off the heat and let sit for at least 15 minutes to let the flavors “meld.” Serve over rice or bulgar, with a drizzle of olive oil on top.
I’ve haven’t stopped in here with something to share in far too long for my liking. I have nothing to say for myself except that maybe, possibly, I have a severe case of laziness. Laziness both in terms of making something to eat that isn’t some form of cheese or vegetable or egg (or some combination of the three) on toasted bread, and then more laziness towards actually putting in the slight additional effort to photograph anything decently. However, that’s not to say I still haven’t been eating well. Toast is pretty tasty, it turns out.
But, I decided that as an excuse for me to post something and say hi, I’d share a simple bean salad that I’ve eaten a couple times over the past two weeks. I guess it’s so simple that it barely constitutes a recipe, but no matter! I’ve been picking up a combination of yellow and purple-tinted wax beans as well as regular green beans at the farmers market the past few weekends. Going to the farmers market these past saturdays has been one of the few perks in returning to a college city that I normally otherwise lovingly refer to as a cultural wasteland. In the slow transition from summer into fall here, I don’t have a firm grasp of what’s in season or not. I really am terrible at that. But I’ve just been grabbing things, like these beans, and they end up tasting good, very good. So thank you, farmers market, and sorry, city that I live in, for putting up with my complaints about your inferiority.
Anyway, in almost every instance, this is how I’ve been eating the share of beans I bring home every weekend. The recipe comes from Mireille Johnston, in her cookbook Cuisine of the Sun. I’ve been reading that book a lot lately when I try to figure out how to deal with any summer (especially late summer) produce. It’s almost always simple, and always delicious. The first time I made this bean salad, I brought it picnic-style for Lindsey and me to share on a day-trip to Portland when she was recently here visiting. We ate it at room-tempurature, in the sunshine, with a couple rolls of bread. It was awesome. I’ve since made it, sprinkling it with either basil or parsley depending on what I have, and eaten it warm. It’s a little bit of a lazy salad, I’d say, and it has been fitting in just right with me lately.
A simple provencal bean salad
Adapted from Mireille Johnston’s Cuisine of the Sun
Serves 4 (although a half serving of this has served solely as my meal on a couple occasions)
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup olive oil
2 pounds green beans, rinsed
1/2 cup parsley or basil, chopped
For the vinaigrette, mix the vinegar, salt, a good pinch of black pepper, and the garlic in a small bowl. Drizzle in the oil, whisking the whole time, in order to emulsify the vinaigrette. Likewise, you could just stick all of the contents in a small glass jar with a lid and then shake it until it’s all combined. Set aside.
Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, snap off the tips of the beans. Cook the beans in the boiling water, uncovered, for about 4 to 5 minutes, until tender with a little bit of a bite still to them. Drain, and put the beans into a medium bowl. Add the vinaigrette to the still warm beans and toss immediately. Sprinkle the parsley or basil, and serve warm or at room temperature.
Well, I’m pleased to say that summer has finally hit Washington. By summer, I mean when you go to sleep without any sheets or blankets on, and when you wake up with the sun hitting you through the windows. When you have to spend the middle of the day in a swimsuit on the beach, and when turning on the oven is absolutely not an option (you’d be surprised how warm and inviting baking usually sounds most usual overcast and chilly Northwest summer mornings).
There’s a funny little thing about people in the Northwest with weather. They like to complain most of the year when it’s gloomy, overcast, and drizzly, yet when the sun finally shines and the heat is packed on, they complain it’s too hot. I guess they’re a hard crowd to please. I must have not been destined to be a Northwesterner (is that a word?), because I quite know what I like when it comes to the weather, and the sun is most definitely involved. I love walking outdoors and feeling the heat as if it were pounding on your bare arms, and wearing a swimsuit about 80% of the day. I’ll even take the whole no-oven thing. Besides, a lot of food is fine just as it is this time of year—not much messing around involved.
This dish here does require a little bit of work, as in you have to turn on the burner, and broiler. Also, the resulting dish, delicious though it is, does happen to be warm. Something to keep in mind if the weather is so hot that it’s more of a grilled-meat-and-fresh-salad kinda night. (Speaking of which, I have an awesome salad to share with you soon. Yes, be excited.)
Anyway, this dish is relaxed and a little bit lazy—just like how the days have been dripping by here lately. The original recipe requires soffritto, a flavor base built from simmering aromatics in lots of good olive oil for almost half an hour, which Bon Appetit tells me would form a foundation of flavor for whatever sauces or soups I would add it in. To me it just sounds a bit like homemade bouillon, but who am I to know? Reader, please enlighten me if you know more about this than I do. But, I made the soffritto anyway, set aside 1/2 cup for the bean ragout, and set the rest to freezer in ice-cube sized portions to be used to flavor some other things in the future. I must admit it was quite the scene to watch it bubble away in a pool of olive oil until it practically melted into a deep, darkened caramelized mush.
After making the initial batch of soffritto, the rest of this dish came together easy, easy, easy. It’s basically the cheap-classic-simple dish of beans and toast, adjusted for the summer with the addition of some ripe cherry tomatoes. Don’t be deceived by its simplicity though: when you’re mopping up the sauce with the crusty, olive-oil drizzled bread, while getting as many plump beans and juicy tomatoes as can fit in one bite, the concepts of ease, or time, have no place. It’s just good. For how easy (especially if you’ve got that soffritto already stored away) and cheap it was, and considering how very, very good it ended up tasting, I’ll be making this throughout the year, with or without the tomatoes, and with or without the sun.
Summer White Bean Ragout with Toasts
Adapted from Bon Appetit, May 2012
Serves 4 to 6
Some quick things to note. The soffritto isn’t mandatory, but it does add a great depth of flavor. If you don’t want to go through the trouble (slight though it is) of making it, I’d saute some onions and garlic first before adding the beans. Or add some flavor from something like Better than Bouillon’s vegetable flavor base.
1 garlic, halved
4-6 1-inch thick slices ciabatta or good bread (preferably pre-grilled)
about 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup sofrito (see recipe below)
2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
few tablespoons parsley, chopped, for garnish
Set the oven on its broiler setting, or, like me, set the broiler setting on a toaster oven. Rub bread slices with the cut sides of the garlic. Place bread on a baking sheet and cover with roughly a good tablespoon of the grated parmesan over each slice. Toast in the oven until the cheese browns a little, about a couple minutes.
Heat the sofrito and beans in a skillet (preferably the same one you cooked the sofrito in), over medium-high heat until heated through, about 1 minute. Stir in the vegetable broth; bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to bring the mixture to a simmer. Continue to simmer, scraping up the the browned bits from the bottom of the pan every once in awhile, until liquid has thickened a bit, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and let simmer in the mixture for about 3 or 4 minutes more, or to your liking. Stir in a couple tablespoons of parmesan, and season well with salt and pepper.
To serve, place a piece of bread in a shallow bowl, or a plate with a little depth to it. Top with a good few spoonfuls of the bean-tomato mixture with its juices and broth. Garnish with a good drizzle of olive oil, some shavings of parmesan, and a sprinkle of parsley.
Onion, Bell Pepper, Tomato and Garlic Soffritto
2 medium onions, roughly chopped
1 red bell pepper, roughly chopped
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 garlic cloves, finely grated
2 teaspoons tomato paste
Pulse onions in a food processor until finely chopped but not pureed. It should total about 2 cups. Transfer to a medium bowl. Next, pulse the bell pepper in the food processor until finely chopped, but not puree. This amount should total about 1 cup. Add to the bowl and mix well.
Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Carefully add the onion-bell pepper mixture (it may splatter a bit), and season liberally with salt and freshly ground pepper. Simmer, stirring often, until vegetables are completely softened and caramelized looking, about a full 25 to 30 minutes. Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring often, for about 3 more minutes until the mixture turns a deep, dark red-brown. Remove from heat. Measure 1/2 cup soffritto and set aside for the bean ragout. Transfer remaining soffritto to a container an let cool completely, uncovered. Cover and store in the fridge for up to 4 days or freeze for up to a few months.
I like going out to eat, a lot. It’s not just the restaurant food—whenever my parents ask me if I want some food from a restaurant for takeout I respond with a no, thank you. I love the whole experience of it, sitting and talking and hearing others talk around you and the clanking from the kitchen. Picking over the menu (and if you’re like me) taking about four times as long as it should to decide on something just because everything sounds so intriguing. I love waiting for the food to arrive and when it does I love oohing and ahhing over everyone’s picked plates.
Luckily for me, I have a boyfriend who loves to go out to each just as much as I do. During the summer we developed what we called our “basic four” restaurants to go eat—places all within the general same area, varying from very, very greasy and cheap to the more “sophisticated” fine dining, I guess you could say. One of these places is an Argentine Steakhouse called Asado, which serves the best breaded and deep-fried calamari with red pepper aioli I’ve ever had, as well as some phenomenal meats and fish entrees. On the back of their menu insert listing all the specials is “Asado’s Favorite Lentil Recipe”—the lentils they serve underneath their seared, juicy steaks.
So yes, friends, you know what this means! Another lentil recipe.
My boyfriend’s mom was the first to make these at home, and I think I liked them even better than the restaurant’s. In the batch I made, shown here, I tried to recreate the lentils as she had made them. (I’ve been told she now has formed the recipe into a stew of sorts, which sounds delicious, but I have yet to attempt to make it that way.) This means substituting green for yellow lentils as called for in the recipe and serving them freshly topped with sliced green onions. What you end up with is a perfect balance of spice from the cumin and cinnamon and sweetness from the maple syrup. And the bacon? Well it’s bacon, quite a lot of it, it’s a lot of fat, and it’s really delicious. Especially with these flavors, it’s now become my favorite way to eat lentils.
Funny thing is, making these lentils at home doesn’t interfere one bit with the pleasure I get from going to the restaurant and eating them there. It’s not some form of take-out and it’s not trying to recreate an exact dish from the restaurant. The tastes are a little different and so is the experience. But I like their separate spheres, with one being crowded and exciting and quite a trip in itself and the other being quieter, more subdued, with mulling over the pot of delicious stewing lentils. Either way, it’s one of my favorite restaurants and at home this is one of my favorite lentil recipes.
Asado’s Favorite Lentil Recipe
Adapted from Asado Restaurant
Serves four as a side dish
8 strips of 1/4-inch cut bacon (about a half-pound, a little less)
1-2 red onions, diced
1/2 teaspoon chicken base (optional, if you want a deeper chicken flavor)
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/4 cups dry green lentils
3 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons real maple syrup
3-4 green onions, sliced thinly
Sauté the bacon over medium heat until brown and just starting to get crispy around the edges, 12-15 minutes. Add in red onions and cook until soft, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in chicken base.
Deglaze with wine and add lentils. Then add the stock, and stir in the seasonings. Cook lentils over medium heat, stirring periodically, until lentils are al dente and almost all the liquid has been soaked up, about 25-30 minutes. Off of the heat, stir in the maple syrup and season to taste.
Pour onto a sheet pan to cool. After a minute or two, sprinkle the sliced green onions on top and stir them into the lentils.