Category Archives: Beans

Rustic Spinach Lentil Salad

Lentils are misunderstood.  They get such a bad rap for being boring, or mushy, or tasteless.  But I love them .  The wonderful thing about lentils is they are so versatile.  Beautiful in soup, but light and small enough to work well in salads as well.  I think part of the problem is that people tend to overcook them.  When boiled to mush, lentils can be underwhelming.  But I cook them just long enough to soften (usually about 25 minutes), leaving them tender but firm.  They have a nice delicate flavor that is enhanced by pretty much anything you combine with it, and they work well with a variety of spices and flavors.  Add to that the health benefits of this high-fiber, high-protein, gluten-free, low cal, zero fat food and in my mind, you’ve got a winner.

You can use any kind of lentils for this salad (I went with the typical greenish brown French lentils).  If you are in a hurry and you are lucky enough to live by a Trader Joe’s, they even sell steamed lentils in their refrigerated section that are delicious and ready to toss into whatever soup, salad or other creation you have in mind.  It just doesn’t get any easier than that.

Rustic spinach lentil salad

Rustic spinach lentil salad

Rustic Spinach Lentil Salad

1 cup lentils
4 cups water
Olive oil
8 oz. mushrooms (I used half baby bellas and half button mushrooms), cut into thick slices
2 cloves garlic, minced
A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Juice of 1-2 lemons
Salt & pepper
2 cups baby spinach

Bring the water to a boil, add lentils.  Turn down to medium low and cook 20-25 minutes until lentils are tender.  Drain and transfer to a salad bowl. Set aside to cool a bit.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add a drizzle of olive oil to the pan.  Add half the mushrooms (don’t crowd the pan).  Allow to cook a couple of minutes without stirring to get some good color on them.  Stir and cook another couple of minutes.  Remove from pan and repeat with the other half of the mushrooms.  Add first batch of mushrooms back in, add garlic and crushed red pepper and cook an additional minute.  Add to lentils.  Add lemon juice, a generous pinch of salt & pepper, and a tablespoon or two of olive oil.  Stir to combine.  Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed.  Add spinach, toss and serve.

Rustic Spinach Lentil Salad

Rustic Spinach Lentil Salad

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Spicy Homemade Taco Pizza

My baby brother (one of them) was born when I was 14.  Now while that was all very exciting, the part leading up to that was pretty cool too.  That was the part where my mom was craving Godfather’s taco pizza and raspberry ripple ice cream.  We ate a lot of taco pizza that summer.  Ever since that time, I have loved it.  These days, I hardly ever see it offered at pizza places, and when I do, it’s just not the same.  So, as I am wont to do, when I was having a craving recently I just made up my own.  I saw a recipe somewhere where the dressing was drizzled on top and I thought that was a pretty great idea so I copied that idea on mine.  Added a nice spicy zip!

If you are lucky enough to have a Trader Joe’s in the vicinity, check out their fresh pizza dough, which you can find in the produce section.  Otherwise, use the brand you like best (or make your own).

Now…where can I find some raspberry ripple ice cream?

Spicy Homemade Taco Pizza

Spicy Homemade Taco Pizza

Spicy Homemade Taco Pizza

Pizza Crust (I use the fresh pizza dough from Trader Joe’s, but use your favorite)
1/2 pound ground beef
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
4 oz. can green chiles
1 cup crushed tomatoes (canned or fresh)
1/2 jalapeno, minced (leave out if you don’t like it spicy)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded lettuce
1 large tomato, diced
Salt
Sliced black olives
1/2 cup sour cream
Juice of one lime
2 tbsp. hot sauce (I used Cholula)

Preheat oven to 425˚.  Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment.  Press out pizza dough with your fingers until it’s the thickness you like.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add ground beef and onion and cook until beef is no longer pink.  Add beans, garlic, cumin, chili powder and green chiles. Stir and sort of mash the beans into the mixture. Cook until heated through.  Set aside.

Mix crushed tomato and minced jalapeno.  Spread over pizza crust.

tacopizza

Spread meat mixture over tomato sauce.

tacopizza2

Sprinkle shredded cheese over the top of the meat mixture.  Bake for 10-15 minutes until crust is browned on the bottom, and crispy around the edges.

tacopizza3

Remove from oven and spread lettuce, tomatoes and olives over the top.  Whisk together sour cream, lime juice and hot sauce.  Drizzle over the top of pizza (you can do this with a spoon or put in a ziplock bag and snip off a corner).  Cut into squares and eat up!

tacopizza5

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Festive Black Bean Salad

Easy, pretty and delicious.  This salad is hearty enough to eat as a main dish – I usually throw it over the top of a pile of greens in that case – or great as a side with pretty much anything.  I especially like it for BBQs and potlucks because it doesn’t have to be refrigerated and tastes great at room temperature.  This will also keep in the fridge for several days so I usually double the recipe so I have yummy leftovers.  If you like it spicy, toss in a little finely diced jalapeno for an extra kick.

Festive Black Bean Salad

Festive Black Bean Salad

Festive Black Bean Salad

1-2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 orange (or red or yellow) bell pepper, diced
1-2 diced tomato
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1-2 tbsp. lime juice
1/2 tsp. cumin
Salt & pepper

Combine all ingredients.  Eat!

Festive Black Bean Salad

Festive Black Bean Salad

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Indian Spiced Lamb & Lentil Stew

My love of Indian food and my love of soup have finally found each other.

My daughter came home from school yesterday and immediately moaned in delight because our house smelled so wonderful.  And who could blame her?  I was doing the same thing myself.

I came across this gem of a recipe in Cooking Light and almost skipped over it because it just didn’t look very exciting.  But the flavor (and the amazing aroma) was outstanding.  The original recipe calls for only 6 oz. of lamb but the package I bought was a pound so I just decided to double the recipe and have leftovers.  An excellent decision!  Other than the lamb everything else on the list was stuff I normally have in my cupboard or fridge, so I’m sure this will land in my pile of go-to recipes I use when there is “nothing” to cook.  I’m already looking forward to making it again.

Indian-Spiced Lamb & Lentil Stew

Indian-Spiced Lamb & Lentil Stew

Indian Spiced Lamb & Lentil Stew
(adapted from Cooking Light)

1 pound ground lamb
2 tsp. red curry powder (I used Madras curry powder since I had it)
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
2 cups chopped onion
1 1/2 cups chopped carrots
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 1/2 cups dry brown lentils
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
1 can coconut milk
1 can diced tomatoes with juice
Plain Greek yogurt for garnish
Cilantro for garnish

Drizzle a bit of olive oil in your soup pot and add lamb, stirring to break up.  Add curry powder, cumin, salt & cayenne pepper.  Cook for a few minutes.  Add onions, carrots and jalapeno.  Continue to cook, stirring occasionally for 4-5 minutes until lamb is browned.  Add garlic and cook another minute.  Add tomato paste, stir well and cook another minute.  Add lentils and stir well, then add broth, water, coconut milk and tomatoes.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 40 minutes, until lentils are tender.  Taste and adjust seasonings if needed (I added a bit more salt).  Serve topped with a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkle of chopped cilantro.  Serves 6-8.

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One Pork Roast, 3 Dinners. Day 2: Shredded Pork & Black Bean Tacos

For my second installment of the Pork Roast saga, I give you tacos.  Now yes, you can make tacos out of just about anything, but boy were these yummy.  Pulled pork is not something I usually have lying around, so it was a treat.  And these particular tacos had the added benefit of using pretty much all ingredients in my cupboards so I didn’t have to go to the store.

If you missed chapter one of my pork roast week, click here to see directions for the basic pork recipe and BBQ pork sandwiches.  Or skip ahead to part 3 for Shepherd’s Pie.

porkroast-burritos

Shredded Pork and Black Bean Tacos

2 cups (approx.) Basic Pulled Pork
1 can diced green chiles
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
Salt & pepper to taste
Flour or corn tortillas
Lettuce, cheese or other taco toppings (optional)

In a skillet on medium heat, add pulled pork, green chiles, black beans and seasonings.  Stir and cook until well combined and heated through.  Warm tortillas in the oven, pile filling in the tortilla, top with lettuce or whatever else you like on your taco and eat!

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Black Bean Enchilada Stacks

What to make for the birthday dinner for one of my dearest friends of all time?  Well…Mexican food of course.  And something vegetarian for this particular friend. She was literally doing a happy dance in her chair while she was eating these enchiladas.

I first saw enchilada stacks in New Mexico, when I had huevos rancheros served this way in a little cafe outside of Taos.  I fell in love with these little towers of tastiness.  They are so much easier to make than rolled enchiladas but you still have individual servings which is a nice touch.  For me the highlight of this recipe is the amazing verde sauce.  It’s incredibly easy to make and so much better than anything you will find in a can.  Next time I’m making a double batch so I can use it on about a dozen other things.

Black Bean Enchilada Stacks with Homemade Verde Sauce.  Yum!

Black Bean Enchilada Stacks

Verde Sauce:
12 oz. tomatillos (7-8 large)
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1/3 cup fresh cilantro
1/3 cup chopped roasted green chiles (canned works fine)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 garlic cloves, chopped

Filling:
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup chopped green chiles (canned is just fine)
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 cup sour cream
Juice of 1/2 lime
Salt & pepper

Other Ingredients:
16 corn tortillas (for 4 stacks, add more tortillas for more stacks)
2 cups shredded jack/cheddar cheese
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1/2 cup chopped red or orange bell pepper

Make the sauce first. Remove husks and stems from tomatillos and wash.  Add tomatillos to a sauce pan and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and cook for about 10 minutes until tender.  Drain. Put tomatillos and other sauce ingredients in a blender and puree.  Set aside.

In a bowl mix black beans and other filling ingredients.  In a large casserole dish or jelly roll pan (use 2 pans if needed), spread 1/4 cup sauce on the bottom of the pan.  Create 4-6 enchilada stacks (I made five), starting with a tortilla, then 1/3 of bean mixture, cheese, then tortilla, then 1/3 bean mixture, cheese, then tortilla, then 1/3 bean mixture, cheese, ending with a tortilla. Pour remaining sauce over the top of the stacks.  Cover with the remaining shredded cheese.  Garnish each stack with feta and peppers.

All stacked up and ready to go in the oven.

Bake at 375˚ for 20-25 minutes, until cheese is melted and tortillas are starting to brown on the edges.  Serve entire stack on a plate with extra sauce from the bottom of the pan spooned over the top.  For lighter appetites, you may want to cut these in half, but we didn’t have any problem polishing off a whole stack each!  This recipe will make 4-6 stacks.

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3 Pepper Sauté

When I was young I didn’t like any peppers at all.  Strange that now I can’t seem to get enough of them, especially this time of year.  My favorites are the sweet red, yellow and orange ones, but I’ll eat any of them that come my way.  The poblanos in this add a little kick and more complex flavor, but if you don’t want that, just use regular green peppers as a substitute.

This is a simple recipe that I usually make as a side dish for tacos, or chicken or well…whatever.  It also works great in a bowl by itself, as a burrito filling, or folded into an omelet for breakfast the next day.

3 Pepper Sauté

 

3 Pepper Sauté

1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup sliced red onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Poblano peppers, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1-2 tbsp. lime juice
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
Salt & pepper

Sauté onions, garlic and peppers in olive oil until the veggies are tender.  Add corn, beans, lime juice and seasonings and mix well.  Stir and cook a couple of minutes until it’s all heated through.  Serve hot or cold.

 

 

 

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Zippy String Bean Salad

I really love gardening.  It’s relaxing, it’s fun, I like seeing things grow…and eating them.  Unfortunately gardens don’t like me much.  Which is why I was thrilled when my daughter Claire showed a little more potential in this area.  This year she decided to grow string beans.  Perfect!  I love string beans!  But then, she left for vacation.

Our bumper string bean crop.

So off to farmer’s market I went, where I scored a big wad of beans grown by professionals.

With the kids on vacation I haven’t been cooking much.  Plus it’s been hot and with no air conditioning in my house, turning on the oven just isn’t a wise idea.  So I’ve taken to getting creative with salads, particularly those where I can make a big batch and eat on it for 2 or 3 days.  This is one of those recipes.  If you make it all up except for the goat cheese and nuts, it will keep in the fridge for days, and I actually liked it even better the second day than I did the first.  Add the cheese and nuts when you are ready to eat it so the nuts stay crunchy and the cheese holds its shape.

Zippy String Bean Salad

Zippy String Bean Salad

1 pound green beans
1/2 cup red onion, sliced or chopped
1/2 red chile pepper, minced or thinly sliced
1/4 cup cider vinegar (I used apple jalapeno vinegar for an extra little kick)
Salt & pepper
1/2 cup walnut halves
Crumbled goat cheese – 1-2 ounces per serving

Trim the ends off the beans.  Mix onion, chile pepper and vinegar in a serving bowl.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.   Toss in the beans and boil for 5 minutes. Do not boil these beautiful beans to death!  They should still have a little snap to them.  Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.  Add to the vinegar mixture.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper and toss well to coat.  At this point you can refrigerate for later or the next day.  Top with goat cheese and walnuts right before serving.

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Easy Roasted Shrimp & Green Beans

Green beans are my favorite vegetable.  Fun to eat, crunchy and good.  This time of year, farmer’s market has them by the bucket so I picked some up last time I went. Roasting is my preferred method to cook just about any vegetable, and the only thing easier is to go ahead and throw the other ingredients for dinner on the pan with it.

This dish has all the yumminess of shrimp scampi (without the gobs of butter) plus the crunchiness of the roasted green beans.  Serve with some simple couscous for an easy, delicious dinner that’s actually good for you.  If you don’t like mushrooms, leave them out.  Same goes with the crushed red pepper. This is one that is very easy to adapt to your own tastes.

Easy Roasted Shrimp & Green Beans

Easy Roasted Shrimp & Green Beans

1 pound of fresh green beans
1 pound peeled shrimp
A handful of small mushrooms, if you like them
5 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper (add more or less to adjust spiciness to your taste)
2 lemons
Salt & pepper
1 tbsp. olive oil

Preheat oven to 400˚. Line large baking sheet with foil or parchment (this is mostly for easy clean up, you don’t have to do it if you don’t want to).  Combine shrimp, green beans, garlic, crushed red pepper and zest from both lemons.  Spread out in pan.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper.  Squeeze juice of one lemon over the top.  Drizzle the whole thing with a bit of olive oil (you don’t need much).  Bake for 20 minutes until green beans are tender but still have a bite and shrimp are cooked through.  Cut the other lemon into wedges for garnish and to squeeze over the top of both the shrimp and couscous if desired.  Serves 4.

Fresh out of the oven. Yum!

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Rustlin’ Up Some Chili

Cowboys have it figured out.  Fresh air.  Horses.  Chuck wagon.  Sleeping under the stars.  And along the way somewhere they discovered the perfect food.  Chili.  Chock full of protein & veggies.  Cooks in one pot on the stove (or campfire).  Does it get any easier -or tastier- than that?

Canned chili is disgusting.  And in my opinion, pointless.  Why would you eat a nasty can of something when it’s so easy to throw a bunch of stuff in a pot, come back 30 minutes later and find chili that is fresh and good?  Any cowboy worth his salt would throw that can to the cows and rustle up a batch on his own.  So hang up your spurs, throw on an apron, and get to rustlin’!

This is about the easiest recipe ever.  Sauté, throw things in, simmer.  I know there are a million recipes for chili, but even when I stray and try new things, I always return to my old standby.  For a vegetarian version, just leave the meat out.  It cooks in about 45 minutes from start to finish, and it’s even better the next day.  Plus the leftovers freeze very well. I like to make it in a double batch and freeze half of it in small containers for easy lunches later.

Three Bean Chili

April’s Three Bean Chili

1 onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound lean ground beef (optional)
2-3 tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. salt
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes (with juice)
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce (or 2 small cans)
1 can black beans (drain & rinse)
1 can pinto beans (drain & rinse)
1 can kidney beans (drain & rinse)

Sauté onions, peppers and garlic in a drizzle of olive oil.  Add beef and continue to cook until it’s browned.  Add seasonings and stir to mix thoroughly.  Add tomatoes, tomato sauce and beans.  Mix well.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes (or longer if you want).  Check seasonings.  Adjust if needed.  Chow time!

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