Category Archives: Spring

Pot o’ Beans for Salads and Tacos

PotOfBeans_2_FW_cr1

These Rio Zape Beans resemble pinto beans, but are larger and profoundly satisfying. A great element to have on hand for quick tacos or served with a green salad to add flavor and sustenance.

Ingredients:
– 1 or 2 cups dried Rio Zape Rancho Gordo Heirloom Beans, washed and soaked for six hours in 1-2 quarts water (if 6 hours pass, drain the beans, reserving the soaking liquid and keep both on hand covered for up to 2 hours until you’re ready to start cooking.)
– 1 large onion, cut in half
– 1 or 2 celery stems, cut thirds
– 1 or 2 carrots, cut in half or thirds
– 2 garlic gloves, lightly peeled
– 1 bay leaf
– 1 bouquet garni of a few large parsley stems with leaves (tied with string in cheesecloth, net, sachet or coarsely chopped and stuffed into a large tea strainer)
– 1 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
– 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions:
1. Place beans and soaking water into large saucepan. Add water if needed – the water level should be at least 1 inch above the top of the beans.
2. Add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, bay leaf and parsley bouquet and bring to boil.
3. Reduce heat, cover and simmer one hour.
4. Remove the parsley sachet and celery, then add salt to taste and simmer for another 30 minutes to an hour, until the beans are completely tender.
5. Drain through a strainer set over a bowl, reserving the liquid. Remove the remaining vegetables and bay leaf and discard.
6. Adjust salt to taste, add pepper.
7. Serve warm in tacos embellished to your taste or along with a mixed green salad with freshly chopped parsley /or cilantro & feta /or cojita cheese.

Notes: Beans will last for 3-4 days in the refrigerator. Store so they are just covered with some of the reserved liquid, which should be used to reheat them as needed. Save any additional reserved liquid in a canning jar – label/date and freeze for future use. Makes a fantastic “vegetable stock” for asian noodles or soup. Cooked beans can also be frozen in liquid for future use.

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Quick, Easy Breakfast – Fried Egg with Arugula and Kalamata Olives

Fried Egg with Arugula and Kalamata Olives

Spring is in full swing, and the arugula is growing like a weed on my deck garden. My new favorite (and quick) breakfast is a fried egg on arugula. Every morning I go out and pick 5-6 or the largest leaves, clean & dry them thoroughly, sprinkle with salt and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Chop 2-3 pitted kalamata olives and fry a fresh market egg (1-2 minutes) to put on top. Easy, simple and delicious!

Arugula Growing in the Deck Garden

A New Favorite- Chick Pea Salad

Chick Pea SaladI had something like this chick pea salad at ‘wichcraft, a lunch spot in San Francisco at Mission and 5th Streets downtown. I was bewitched. Here’s my version- it’s my new lunch obsession.

Garbanzo Beans

Serves 2.

Ingredients:
olive oil
pinch of cayenne pepper
3 shallots or 1 small red onion, chopped finely
1 large garlic clove, minced
2-3 celery sticks, cleaned, halved lengthwise and sliced
2-3 shakes ground coriander (~1/2 teaspoon)
2-3 shakes ground cumin (~1/2 teaspoon)
1 pint cooked garbanzo beans, about two cups (or 1 – 14oz can chick peas, drained & thoroughly rinsed)
juice of one meyer lemon
kosher salt & pepper
2 (generous) Tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro or parsley (I use both.)

Saute chick peas with shallots and celeryDirections:
1) Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in small saucepan. Add pinch of cayenne pepper.
2) On medium heat, saute the shallots & celery for 1-2 minutes or so until slightly softened.
3) Add the garlic and stir, cooking for another minute or so. Add the cumin and coriander. Stir and add a touch more olive oil.
4) Stir in the chick peas and mix thoroughly.
5) Mix in fresh juice of 1/2 lemon. Generously sprinkle with kosher salt. Taste. Stir and repeat with second half of lemon or adjust to taste.
6) Add a bit of freshly ground pepper if desired. Stir in chopped cilantro & parsley and serve immediately, slightly warm.

This chick pea salad is great on its own as a side or I often serve it on top of a tossed salad. See below.

Chick Peas with Mixed Greens SaladGarbanzo Beans salad for lunchIngredients:
Mixed greens or arugula (2-3 cups), cleaned and dry
Crumbled goat cheese (feta would work too)
One green onion, sliced
1/2 avocado, sliced
for dressing: kosher salt, olive oil, & red wine vinegar

Directions:
1) Place greens in a bowl. Lightly sprinkle with kosher salt and then drizzle a bit of olive oil over the leaves. Add a splash of red wine vinegar and toss to coat evenly.
2) Add goat cheese, green onion, avocado and a mound of chick pea salad on top.
3) Lunchtime!

Note: I prefer to use dried garbanzo beans. After soaking & cooking the chick peas, I put them in pint mason jars and stash them in the freezer to use as needed.

Chick Peas on Arugula Salad

More White Bean Quesadillas and the Open Faced Brunch Quesadilla

Open Face Quesadilla with white beans and egg

Since I had all these homemade flour tortillas on hand, not to mention white beans (have I mentioned those?), I went into a quesadilla frenzy. My new favorite: the open faced quesadilla with a fried egg on top. I think of it as kin to huevos rancheros. I had some leftover sauteed vegetables and black rice that I threw in the mix for the “filling.” If I’d had tomatillo sauce on hand to drizzle on top, that would have even better!

With the open face, I usually heat up the tortilla for 1 minute first, then flip it, and place the ingredients on the hot side. Then back in the pan, heat it again, open face up, covered, for ~1 minute. Serve it with a fried or poached egg on top.

Pictured above: Open faced quesadilla with avocado, white beans, sauteed spinach and zucchini, tomato and black rice with fried egg.

Pictured below: Open faced quesadilla with white beans, sauteed onion and chard, and gruyere with fried egg. Sort of like a little pizza.

Homemade tortilla with white beans, chard and fried egg

Yet another open-faced, pizza-style version with white beans, sauteed onion, jalapeno, and chopped spinach with tomatoes and goat cheese.

Quesadilla with white beans, spinach and goat cheese

Then with “salad on top”: arugula with a light vinagrette dressing.

Quesadilla topped with arugula

Aaaaand, another full-fledged quesadilla with white beans, avocado and cheese. Mmm.. (Amazing how far 12 tortillas will take you!)

White bean and avocado quesadilla

Sweet Potato, White Bean, Zucchini and Chard Quesadillas with Homemade Tortillas

Sweet Potato and White Bean Quesadilla

Given my recent infatuation with white beans and homemade flour tortillas, it seemed natural to combine the two. I decided it’d be fun to make quesadillas using mashed sweet potato as a complement to the white beans, along with chard for health and zucchini for a little crunch. Yum.

Makes enough ingredients for 2-3 quesadillas.

Ingredients:
1 large or two small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
3-4 large leaves swiss chard, cleaned, stems removed and leaves chopped
1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced thin
1/2 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4- 1/2 cup cooked white beans
Handful of fresh thyme
Flour tortillas, preferably homemade
Jack cheese (grated), queso fresco or feta
Salt and pepper

Directions:
1. Steam the sweet potato until soft. Mash until more or less smooth. Meanwhile, heat white beans on stove top or microwave. (If you haven’t made a batch from dried beans, you could use canned cannellini beans- rinse first before heating.)

2. Heat medium sized fry pan or cast iron pan with a teaspoon of oil. Saute onion until softening, about 5 minutes. Saute chard until cooked, 6-10 minutes. Add zucchini and saute about 2 minutes. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds to a minute. Set vegetables aside in separate bowl. Wipe out pan and coat with small bit of oil.

3. Place a flour tortilla on a plate. Spread sweet potato in a thin layer covering the entire tortilla. Next add white beans, lightly mashing into the sweet potato. Add the vegetable mix, a dash of salt, generous fresh cracked pepper and thyme and finish with cheese of your choice. Place second tortilla over the top.

4. Heat pan on high heat until hot, 1 minute or so. Place tortilla in pan and cover, reducing heat to medium high. Cook 1 minute, then carefully flip using a large spatula and cook 1 more minute, again covered.

5. Place quesadilla on plate and cut into 4 equal pieces, and serve hot.

Sweet Potato, white bean and chard quesadilla

Homemade Flour Tortillas

Stack of homemade tortillas

Vanessa Barrington got me jazzed up on  homemade flour tortillas in her new, aptly named cookbook, DIY Delicious. They are surprisingly easy to make! I’d suggest making them over the weekend. You can make 12 in one batch and then store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator to use all week long. I found myself carried away with different quesadilla possibilities.

Since her book just came out, I don’t think it’d be fair to duplicate the recipe here, but I found several similar recipes online, such as this one from Epicurious. I highly recommend picking up Vanessa’s cookbook, however! Her recipe includes a touch of whole wheat flour and does not require lard. To make the tortillas, you basically make the dough, separate the dough into little balls, roll them out and briefly cook in a cast iron pan or fry pan. Done and done!

Dough ready for homemade tortillas

Making Homemade Tortillas

Tastiest White Beans

Dried White Cannellini Beans

Mark Bittman has definitely gotten me on the bean train. Having some black beans or white beans in the fridge allows for making quick and tasty meals on the go, such as quesadillas, soups, salads or sides. I recently discovered a love for white cannellini beans. The trick is using homemade chicken stock for the simmering (and not soaking the beans too long in the first step so they can absorb as much of the stock as possible in the second.) The whole process takes 2 1/2 to 3 hours, mostly unattended.

Ingredients:
1 pound dried cannellini beans
1 medium onion, chopped small
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 carrot, diced small
1 stick celery, diced small
~1 quart (4 cups) homemade chicken stock
1 bay leaf
2 Tablespoons fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions:
1. Rinse dried cannellini beans. Place in pot with cold water with the water 1-2 inches above the top of the beans. Bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes. Turn off heat, cover, and let sit about 1 hour. Taste a bean. The beans should be softening on the outside, but still a little hard in the middle, ie. not completely soft yet. Drain water from beans.

2. Add chicken stock to the beans, again with the water level about 1-2 inches above the beans. If you don’t have enough stock, add some water. Turn the heat back onto high to bring to a boil.

3. Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, heat olive oil and saute onion, carrot and celery until soft. Add garlic and saute another 30 seconds or so. Stir the vegetables into the beans and stock. Add the bay leaf,  thyme, a few pinches of salt, and pepper.

4. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, partially cover, and simmer on low. Check every 10 to 15 minutes. When the beans are completely soft, but not falling apart, remove from heat. It usually takes between 30 minutes to an hour for the beans to completely cook.

5. Remove bay leaf. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Use immediately or store beans with cooking liquid in the refrigerator and reheat as needed. (I find it’s best to only reheat the beans that I plan on using and leave the rest in the fridge, so they aren’t reheated multiple times.) Will last in the fridge for about one week.