Tag Archives: black bean

Spaghetti Squash “Spaghetti” with Spicy Sweet Potato Bean Balls

Step aside spaghetti - Spaghetti squash has come to town!

Step aside spaghetti – Spaghetti squash has come to town!

Spaghetti squash is the one type of winter squash I normally avoid. I always had issues with spaghetti growing up. Somehow, I always managed to get more sauce on my face and my immediate surroundings (the counter, wall, floor …) than in my belly. Pre-cutting, fork and spoon technique, or Lady and the Tramp style – it didn’t matter. And thus I avoided stringy foods, including spaghetti squash. But when you live on a budget and like to expand your culinary horizons, the spaghetti squash beacons. Always one to rise to a challenge and craving something spring-ier than my standard curry, I decided to give it a go. The result was less of a recipe and more of a stream of consciousness, coupled with copious amounts of time staring into my pantry.

The “Method”:

I first cut the squash in half lengthwise. Unlike other squashes, Spaghetti squash is directional, so this resulted in much shorter spaghetti ‘strands’. I was okay with this, but if you don’t have the same spaghetti eating issues that I do, cutting the squash in half width-wise may be advisable. I then stabbed poked the surface with a fork a couple of times, and placed face down on a cookie sheet to roast at 375dF for 45min. While that was going, I made Spicy Sweet Potato Bean Balls, based on my Burger recipe. Instead of a grain, I used the same amount in mashed sweet potato. Genius! With 10min to go on the squash, I quickly whipped up a spicy tomato sauce made of 2c. diced tomatoes, 2 jalapenos, 1/2t. ground cumin, and 1t. minced garlic. Let the squash rest when you take it out of the oven so you don’t burn your fingers. Flip it over, and scrape the inside with a fork to make your lovely spaghetti. Top the spaghetti with your tomato sauce and a bean ball or two, and volia! Dinner in 45min or so.

The result is absolutely delicious. Spaghetti squash “pasta” is my new favourite type of pasta. The burger recipe made stand out bean balls, and the sweet potato was a nice change from the rice/quinoa formula. The latin tomato sauce added some flavour, but leftovers were devoured without the sauce. Straight-up diced tomatoes were amazing too! For a complete vegetable feast, serve on top of a bed of greens. This is just one suggestion – clearly adapt to your cravings! A sauce of your favourite cheese sauce would be delicious. Or hummus inspired topped with sliced nuts. Or just straight up with some fresh herbs. Let your pantry speak to you!

Now who said that comfort food can’t be healthy?


Red Posole Vegetable Chili

Red Posole Chili

I have an addiction to buying dried beans. The stranger they look the better. Of course I have my staples: lentils (green and red), chickpeas, black eyed peas, black beans, and mung beans to name a few. This chili was born upon the realization that I just purchased El Salvadorian Red Beans and I needed to use them. Now. I vaguely recalled a recipe called “Red Beans and Rice” in Viva Vegan by Terry Hope Romero, but I wasn’t feeling the rice and bean vibe. When I was closing the book, it naturally fell open to a recipe called “Quick Red Posole”, which looked slightly more promising. But by this time other beans in the arsenal were calling my name, so the Red Posole was bookmarked for another day. But this quick flip through got the creative juices flowing, and with a quick inventory in my fridge this fiery Red Posole Vegetable Chili was born!

The mixture of beans is totally up to your discretion: add more variety or less – it’s up to you! The vegetables are also infinitely adaptable, making this the perfect on-a-whim I-need-chili-NOW recipe. This first variation used leftover mushrooms for chewiness and bell pepper, zucchini, and spinach for colour. I roasted the dried chilis old school: dry toast them in a pan on your stove, pressing down with a spatula. Turn over when they start to blacken (or smoke), and remove from heat quickly. The whole process takes less than 2 min., and the roasted dried chilis add such depth to the chili it would be remiss without. However, if this sounds like a recipe for disaster, by all means you can skip this step for the safety of your kitchen! This chili was absolutely delicious, and tasted even better as leftovers. So without further ado, I present to you Yet Another Chili recipe!

 

Red Posole Vegetable Chili

½ cup dried black beans (1½ cups cooked)
½ cup dried black eyed peas (1½ cups cooked)
½ cup dried red beans (1½ cups cooked)
1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp. garlic, minced
¾ cup onion, diced
1 jalapeno, minced
2 dried ancho chilis, roasted and chopped
1½ cup bell pepper, diced
1 cup mushrooms, quartered
1¾ cup zucchini, cut into ½” half moons
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 ½ tsp. dried oregano
3 ½ cup tomatoes, diced OR 1 (32oz.) can diced tomatoes
4 cups water
2 tbsp. tomato paste
3 cups fresh spinach
1 tbsp. lime juice
salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste

Directions:
1) If required, cook beans
2) In large pot, sauté garlic in oil on medium-high until brown, ~30s.
3) Add onions. Saute until soft, ~3-4min.
4) Add jalapenos, roasted dried chilis, and bell pepper. Saute until soft,~3min.
5) Add mushrooms, zucchini, and spices. Stir. Add ~2 cups water and cook until zucchini slightly soft, ~5min.
6) Add cooked beans, tomatoes, tomato paste, and 4 cups water. Stir, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook ~35 min, stirring occasionally.
7) Add spinach in batches; stir and cook until bright green and wilted.
8) Add lime juice, salt, pepper, and cayenne (to taste). Stir.
9) Turn off heat and let sit ~5 min. before serving to let the flavours meld.


Veggie Burgers: A Formula

The “Salsa” Veggie Burger

The burger is quite possibly the most recognized American contribution to the culinary scene. McDonalds has done a formidable job infiltrating every corner of the globe, so you can get your McD’s made the exact same way from Japan to Italy to Topeka, Kansas. I am not a fast-food fan, and had my last fast food experience on a Junior High field trip. I have nothing against homemade burgers however, and love them’ deconstructed’ (aka. no bun!).

I have experimented with various permutations and combinations of veggie burger. I’ve changed up the protein (from beans to almonds to sunflower seeds), the grain, how to cook them, what vegetables to add (if any), baked vs. pan cooked … you name it, I’ve tried it. I came across this burger recipe and am now convinced that it is the best burger recipe to date. Unaltered it results in delicious curry burgers, but it’s easily customizable to whatever mood you’re in. Above is this recipe tweaked for a “salsa” burger. I’ve also used this as a base for beet burgers, zucchini burgers, and lentil burgers – all delicious! The recipe can be found on Food Network Canada here: Boon Burger’s Buddah PattyIt is compliments of Boon Burger, a restaurant in Winnipeg, Canada which serves the best vegan burgers I have ever had. The restaurant was featured on Food Network’s You Gotta Eat Here, which is the Canadian version of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. If you are ever in Winnipeg, be sure to check out Boon Burger. But until then, satisfy your burger craving with this toothsome, filling patty that surpasses all others!

Tips to Change Flavours:

The Legume: You can use whatever cooked bean you wish in this recipe. Black beans lend a more ‘southern’ flair; lentils and black-eyed peas are a neutral background that let your other flavours shine through; chickpeas add a middle-eastern or Indian flair; edamame for an Asian burger; or you could substitute the beans for the same volume of mushroom/walnut/almond meal!

The Vegetables: The best way to add vegetables to burgers is to grate them first. Squeeze out any excess water if they are particularly watery, like zucchini. Vegetables that I have had amazing success with include beets, carrots, zucchini, squash (butternut or acorn), sweet potato, or diced mushrooms.

The Binder: If tomato paste doesn’t match your spice flavour profile, tahini, 1-2 tbsp. chickpea flour, or more beans/grains also work. The binder helps hold the burger together, but I have found that if you use the food processing technique in this recipe the burgers hold well with or without the binder.

The Grains: Rice, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, barley, bulgur wheat … really any grain you want! Don’t be afraid to mix and match! Instead of potato flakes/bread crumbs, I usually increase the amount of grain and add 1/4 cup cornmeal or sprouted grains. The cornmeal/sprouts helps act as a binder while giving the burger a bit of texture.

The Seasonings: Season to your mood! Put in as much or as little as you want. These burgers are infinitely adaptable, so whatever strikes your fancy just throw it in! I really like the combination of thyme and beets, chili spices with black beans, curry spices with lentils/chickpeas and carrots, wasabi ginger burgers with edamame, and fresh herbs with zucchini. That’s the beauty of food processor recipes – virtually everything tastes delicious!

These burgers freeze really well, and don’t turn crumbly when you reheat them. They are excellent hand-held on-the-go meals, sure to satisfy your appetite for a while. If the thought of eating a patty straight doesn’t appeal to you, instead of forming burgers spread the burger mixture on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and top with standard pizza toppings. Bake the ‘pizza’ to the burger specifications, and now you have portable all-dressed burgers! So get creative and enjoy these burgers!

Note: Above I have the “salsa” burger with black beans, tomato paste, cornmeal, and chili spices. I served it over a fresh salsa salad, made of diced tomatoes, green bell pepper, jalapeno, and chopped cilantro sprinkled with lime juice. Delicious!


Yam and Black Bean Soup with Orange and Cilantro

Bright and zesty, this black bean soup is deliciously different!

I am forever looking for variations of Black Bean Soup, that “little black dress” soup that can be comforting or exotic. Virtually every cuisine type has a version of a black bean soup, which I find fascinating from an anthropology standpoint. This particular version was made because I could not decide between the classic black bean soup and a version of black bean hash for dinner one day. So I turned to the cookbook shelf for inspiration, and found this Yam and Black Bean Soup in Appetite for Reduction, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Perfect!

Like all recipes in Appetite for Reduction, this stew is very simple to put together, and extremely tasty. I was a bit skeptical reading the list of ingredients – I tend to like recipes that read like novels, heavy on the spices. I also have an aversion to fruit in savoury dishes (pineapple on pizza? Ick.) and the addition of orange juice tested my resolve to stick with this stew and not revert back to the black bean hash. But this soup is absolutely delicious! Strangely enough, you can’t taste the orange, but instead it makes the soup (especially the sweet potatoes) taste ‘bright’. Zingy. It acts more like lime or lemon juice here, and was surprisingly delicious. The ingredient list may be short, but it packs a punch. The longer the soup sits, the more it thickens, making your second bowl more stew-like and extremely concentrated in flavour. The leftovers froze wonderfully, and reheated even better than when first made. When I reheated the soup, at the end I would throw in some greens (spinach, kale, chard, whatever was on hand) for some additional colour and extra level of deliciousness.

The recipe can be found here: Yam and Black Bean Soup. So next time you have a spare sweet potato in your fridge and a burning desire to eat some black beans, add to your black bean soup arsenal and give this exotic soup a try!


Million Ingredient Chili

The most delicious “standard” comfort chili around!

Really … the title says it all! The heat wave had broken it was a cloudy, rainy, lazy Sunday, and I celebrated by making a huge vat of chili. Not just any standard vat of chili – but a 12 quart vat of slow cooked chili comfort. Chili is one of those freezer staples that is like putting on your favourite ratty sweatshirt and sweats after a no-good-rotten day. With nothing else to do, I decided to challenge myself and make the Best Chili Ever. Whenever Top Chef has their chili challenges all the chefs’ whine about how chili is an all-nighter and it needs constant attention, so I looked for the most involved, complex, slow-cook recipe I could find while still being able to make it in time for dinner. And I found this recipe with a Million Ingredients (or close to), and I have found my comfort chili recipe.

Compliments of Kathy of Healthy. Happy. Life., this chili won her a chili cook-off. It is everything a standard, non-fusion chili should be. Tons of beans for stick-to-your-ribs goodness, mushrooms for a nice toothy-meaty texture, and a sauce that is half roasted, half simmered, with dark molasses lending a nice rich colour. Half the veggies are tossed in oil, spices, and roasted to add depth. The other half compose of a “Veggie Pot Roast” which is first simmered in a tangy molasses-based sauce and then roasted. The tomato base is simmered throughout the process, and everything is dumped into the one pot and simmered for at least one hour and however much longer you can resist the delicious aroma! All of these steps generate a lot of dishes, but with a lot of downtime in between by dinner you could even have a dishes-free cleanup if you use your time wisely. The end result is a delicious affair that could be served with rice or cornbread, but why waste valuable stomach real estate when you could dig into another bowl? It freezes and reheats exceptionally well, and for a quick lunch serving a bowl of chili on top of a pile of greens cannot be beat. So next time you find yourself having an Eeyore day, make this chili and a smile will be on your face by dinner!

The recipe can be found on Kathy’s webpage Healthy.Happy.Life here: Roasted Vegetable Chili

I made the following changes, due to last-minute planning and pantry constraints:

Part A: Roasted Veggies: I omitted the agave, as I am still not sold on sweet in savoury. Do not skip the cherry tomatoes! Putting these into the chili gave a tomato-duo combination at the end that is as unique as it is delicious.

Part B: Veggie Pot Roast: I used olive oil instead of butter, and used 6 dried shitake mushrooms (reconstituted) instead of the sausage. Personally I thought the meatiness of the sliced reconstituted shitake mushrooms matched the beans better than sausage, but this may be a departure from ‘classic’ chili. I like a toothsome quality to chili. I also used 3 jalapenos instead of the chipotle peppers in adobo, as that is not a pantry staple. Finally, I omitted the corn (personal preference).

Part C:  Tomato Base: Again, more jalapenos instead of chipotle peppers in adobo. This may have made my chili less smoky and more ‘clean’ spicy, but I thought it was still delicious! In an attempt to compensate I threw in a dash of liquid smoke near the end. For the bean mixture I used a mixture of pinto beans, black beans, fava beans, and chickpeas. The more beans the better! After all, you do control the chili pot.

Do not be intimidated by the million ingredient list. The best part of chili is that at the end of the day you can clean out your fridge and use whatever beans you have and it will still be delicious comfort food. The method just seems complex, but there is a lot of down time. Due to pot restrictions (I own one) I had to do the recipe in steps instead of all at once, but this allowed me to prep the next step while the last one was cooking, so it seemed like no time at all! This also helped with dishes control (ups to the dishwasherless!)

Enjoy!


El Salvador Feast: Black Bean and Plantain Pupusa, Curdito, and Simple Tomato Sauce

Components: Curdito in the bowl; Pupusa topped with Simple Latin Tomato Sauce and sliced avocado sprinkled with chili powder on the plate.

 

The hot weather made me do it. I finally got around to trying Terry Hope Romero’s cookbook Viva Vegan! a tomb of 200 Latin American recipes. I quickly learned in my 3h read through of the book that what I thought was Latin American was actually Tex-Mex, and everything I hate about Tex-Mex has no bearing in authentic Latin American food. It was one of the more expensive library trips for me – what started as a 20-recipe ‘must try NOW’ list plus an additional 20-recipe ‘must make within the month’ resulted in me purchasing the only copy of the cookbook in my city. And thus began the Latin Cooking Extravaganza!

 

I will be honest, I didn’t know much about Latin American food, aside from the aforementioned Tex-Mex. Tacos, Enchiladas, and Mole sauce and I was out. This is just the tip of the iceberg, with plenty more to be explored! Viva Vegan! is a fantastic resource for the uninitiated and adventurous – such as myself. It has recipes from all over Central and South America, with plenty of tips on how to properly roast chilies, when to use the special ingredients and when you can get away with substitutions (especially important for chili powders!), as well as well written step-by-step instructions on how to make your own Latin kitchen staples, such as tortillas. The best part of cooking Latin was that with my pantry stocked with Middle Eastern, Indian, and Asian spices, I could cook almost every recipe in the cookbook without a special trip to the grocery store. But where is the fun in experimenting if it doesn’t come with a trip to the ethnic market? Three kinds of chili powder, two kinds of dried chilies, a bottle of habanero hot sauce, and a Mexican spice called Epazote that smells like gasoline later and I was set.

 

Opening the fest was Black Bean and Plantain Pupusas (pg. 162), Curdito (pg. 79), and Simple Tomato Sauce (pg. 46). Pulled together in under an hour, Latin weekend opened with a bang of flavour! The Curdito is the same as the coleslaw recipe for the Baja Tacos in Veganomicon, and my favourite coleslaw recipe ever. The Simple Tomato Sauce is exactly that – simple and delicious. It amazed me how something with such few ingredients could taste so fantastic! I used green onions and garlic scrapes from my CSA vegetables which made the sauce fresh and bright even though I used canned tomatoes. I ate the sauce straight from the saucepan, until I deployed some measure of restraint to serve it with the pupusa.

 

The Pupusas are very easy to make, and require no time at all to cook! The dough is just masa flour and water, which turns into the consistency of homemade PlayDoh making the pupusas very easy (and fun!) to shape, mould, stuff, and close. The filling for this batch was the suggested black bean and plantain filling with a sprinkling of Daiya cheese. This combination was heavenly, and when served with the tomato sauce tasted like a Latin Pizza Pocket, only 100x better! So successful were these pupusas they have inspired my creativity, and I am planning a future themed evening of other variations – including a dessert pupusa. Cocoa powder added to the dough, and stuffed with a cinnamon-nut crumble with plantains. Mmmm… The leftover pupusas froze very well, and were very travel-friendly for meals-on-the-go. Of course, they didn’t hurt with a quick warm-up in the microwave/pan and served with some more sauce!

 

If you do not have the cookbook, I strongly urge you to check it out of the library. For a taster, the recipes for this delectable meal can be found here: Pupusas, Curdito, and Salsa Rojo. Previews of the cookbook are also available on Google Books, found here: Viva Vegan!  You will be surprised at how easy and delicious this seemingly complex dish is. Plus, you get to play with ‘PlayDoh’ dough. So roll up those sleeves, get creative with the stuffing, and enjoy!


Butternut Rancheros

Southern comfort food in a bowl. Black beans and butternut squash prove once again that they are a match made in heaven. This is what I would consider a fantastic breakfast, but really it’s a meal that can be eaten anytime. It also serves a double purpose of curing all that ails you – between the jalapeno and chili powder you sweat out all those toxins! The recipe itself is another easily adaptable base recipe, and will accept all various vegetable and spice combinations that you throw at it. I like to serve it over a bed of spinach, but it would also be fantastic served with basmati rice or polenta for a more complete meal. It would also make an excellent stew – add some water or vegetable broth and have chili for breakfast!

The original recipe is from The PPK, found here: The PPK Butternut Rancheros.  I adapted it as follows below. As a recommendation, I strongly recommend having a fan going and/or a window open when you sauté the spices and jalapenos otherwise your eyes will water and depending on the sensitivity of your fire alarm it will go off. Unless of course you live for that sort of extra excitement 🙂

Butternut Rancheros

4 cups butternut squash, cut into 1″ cubes (~1 squash)

2 tsp. cumin seeds
2 tsp. coriander seeds
2 tsp. chili powder (optional: for the spice seekers out there!)
2 tsp. oil
1 yellow onion, diced to ‘medium’ size
3 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (32 oz.) can diced tomatoes
2 (19oz.) cans black beans (~3 cups cooked)
½ tsp. salt (to taste)

Optional vegetable additions:
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 bell pepper, diced

Directions:
1) In large saucepan dry roast cumin seeds, coriander, and chili powder over medium-high until fragrant
2) Add oil, onion, garlic, and jalapenos. Sauté until onions translucent.
3) Add any additional vegetables. Sauté ~1 min.
4) Add butternut squash. Stir to coat the squash.
5) Add tomatoes. Stir, cover, and let simmer 10-15min, or until squash fork-tender. Add water as necessary if mixture is looking dry.
6) Add black beans and salt. Stir and let simmer ~5min, or until beans heated through.
7) Serve over a bed of greens and/or with basmati rice or polenta.


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