Monday, August 24, 2009

Day 8: Cubanesque Black Bean Baked Potatoes

Life is short, so let's not beat around the tuber:
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is going to happen. To a potato.

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The stuff-your-own baked potato dinner is a classic cheap-eating standby, and for good reason. These big, beautiful russets were snagged on sale, three pounds for a measly buck. But, instead of the usual Cheddar or butter or inexplicably costly bits of desiccated bacon-food, let's do something a bit saucier, a bit unexpected, a bit Cubano. I must emphasize bit, here. Let's call it Cubanesque, or as Cuban as one can get without a giant ham hock and some good rum and hours of simmering time.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Day 7: Spiced Lentil Soup with Lemon-Herb Yogurt and Bacon

dry lentils
Aaaaaah...the lentil. The humble, earthy, slightly frumpy, a bit dowdy, no-I'm-not-looking-for-a-date-I'm-staying-home-and-washing-my-Birkenstocks lentil. And brown, so very broooooowwwwwwn is the lentil. But! With a little love, a few spices, and a bit of simmering the humble lentil becomes something entirely different.

Spiced Lentil Soup with Lemon-Herb Yogurt and Bacon
The lentil becomes rich and thick, falling-apart tender in aromatic broth. And, once topped with a tangy, citrusy, herb-studded yogurt sauce that gently melts at the edges, streaking the grassy-yellow soup with....oh, my.

And the bacon doesn't hurt, either.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Day 6: Black Bean and Corn Summer Salad (Plus! Sexy Tacos!)

summer booty
Sing with me now: It's summertiiiiiime, and the produce is cheaaaap-y! And today's recipe features everything good and plentiful and gorgeous about late summer (vine-ripened tomatoes, corn right off the cob, fresh herbs, perfect avocados) and synthesizes it into a healthy, vegan salad/dip/super-sexy taco filling.

add cilantro, salt, pepper
And how could you possibly say no to that? You're only human.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Day 5: World's Smoothest Hummus

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Hummus is a funny (but not ha-ha funny) thing: though nearly everyone eats and likes hummus, and it has reached nearly ubiquitous status in our grocery stores and snack tables, most hummus is kind Shouldn't something everyone is eating taste really phenomenal? But store-bought hummus (and a whole lot of the homemade variety, too) just misses the mark and is either too bland or too garlicky or too mealy or too thick or just too eh. Plus, for something made out of dirt-cheap beans, store-bought hummus is spendy, and that's just adding insult to injury.

So here's a recipe adapted from my favorite Yankees at America's Test Kitchen for a really smooth, beautifully balanced, painfully simple hummus that will see you through parties, barbeques, and mindless snacking for the rest of the summer. This makes 2 cups, but I suggest doubling it just to have on hand. There is hummus! Ammung us!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Day 4: White Bean & Chorizo Soup

Behold: the return of the Beans! Sorry for the break, folks; life gets messy, just like a plate of you-know-whats. Let's pick right up, shall we? Prepare for Breakneck 30 Days of Beans. One bean recipe, every weekday, for the next 25 days!

white bean and chorizo soup
Next up: a quick-cooking, flavorful soup of white beans, chorizo, tomatoes, onion and celery in a light broth. This soup is exactly the kind of thing I like to eat: hot, spicy, and filled with suggestive-looking meat. (I keed.)

First of all: I didn't feel good about these raw chorizo pictures on many levels. I debated about even posting them, for your edification: raw chorizo. Lurid, I know. If graphic tube meats give you the vapors, this soup also tastes great with smoked bacon or no meat at all: just cook the veggies in some extra olive oil. Now, let's get down to beany business, shall we?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Day 3: Tuscan White Beans with Crispy Sage and Garlic

Let's get things rolling with a most basic, rustic bean dish: Tuscan White Beans. It involves just a handful of basic ingredients--oil, garlic, sage, beans--combined for maximum flavor. This dish is an interpretation of a traditional Tuscan preparation, fagioli al fiasco which, given the Collapse Of Everything, seems really appropriate these days, no? (Fiasco is actually Italian for "flask" because the beans are slow-cooked in a giant flask of olive oil, but that isn't funny at all.) These beans, adapted from Sally Schneider's recipe in A New Way To Cook, are very low in fat and calories, criminally easy, and astonishingly tasty. You can use any white bean (Great Northern, navy, cannellini) you have on hand.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Day 2: Cooking Basic Beans

finished beans
Now, take your soaked beans and follow four basic steps for fully-cooked, delicious, ready-to-use beans :

1. Put them in a large pot with water to cover. For extra flavor, add a bay leaf or a few peppercorns or a few whole cloves of garlic to the pot: just whatever herbs or aromatics you have on hand. (But no squirrels, please. Save that for when the recession really deepens.)

2. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat, skimming any foam off the top. (The foam is a result of water-soluble proteins from the beans and is allegedly bitter, but I think it's mostly unattractive. Skimming is not mandatory, though.) Reduce heat to a simmer and partially cover the pot.

3. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender. (For an excellent chart of cooking times by bean-type, go here.) Part-way through cooking, be sure to add 2 teaspoons of salt per pound of beans. (It's an old wives' tale that that you shouldn't salt beans during cooking; be sure to use salt. They will still soften and taste approximately four hundred times better. That said, let it be know that this blog still appreciates and endorses old wives.)

4. If planning on using right away in a recipe that calls for cooked or canned beans, just drain, pick out the spices, and use immediately. Otherwise, you can store these beans in their cooking liquid for up to 3 day in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer. To minimize the slavish farmwifery of it all, just cook up a couple pounds of a basic bean and freeze them in small containers for quick meal prep.

Now, on to the recipes!