Episode 56: All about Beans

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Chickpea Sunflower Sandwich from Minimalist Baker, Cuban Style Black Beans from Food and Wine, and Simple Ribollita from Bon Appetit A pot of beans can be the ultimate comfort food, warming you up on a cold winter night, saving your wallet during lean times, or as a quick start to a meal on a busy night. Even though we love them, beans can get a little ho-hum. To counter that and give beans their due we’ve found three new recipes. We take a trip to the hipster health food store with a Chickpea and Sunflower sandwich, make a Cuban version of black beans, and cook a Tuscan stew with a crunchy bread topping. Each one is a way to stretch your wallet and fill your belly with delicious food. Beans, you’re really doing it for us this episode!

Chickpea Sunflower Sandwich from Minimalist Baker

Chickpea salad is one of those recipes we approached with initial skepticism. It could be delicious or it could be stodgy and, well, just too healthy-tasting. Thankfully we were quickly won over by this creamy, crunchy, and mustardy sweet spread. The sandwich tastes like something you’d get at a really good old school vegetarian restaurant, in the best possible ways. Consider us doubters no longer.

Tips:

  • Mash your chickpeas for a spreadable filling or leave them whole for a toast or salad topper. We liked both.
  • Next time we might add a little sriracha to kick things up a notch. Kate used a spicy guacamole on her sandwich and that was a welcome addition.
  • The garlic hummus sauce was good but was lost on the sandwich. If you do make it, consider it as a dressing for steamed broccoli or other vegetables or as a salad dressing.

Cuban Style Black Beans from Food and Wine

A big pot of black beans can be a meal starter for all sorts of things: burritos, rice bowls, soup, you name it. Cuban-style beans are that same meal starter filled with all sorts of flavorful ingredients, making that big pot of beans even more welcome. We think the onions and the green bell pepper- added twice to the beans- put the flavor over the top.

Tips:

  • Don’t skimp on the oil or the salt. Both make these beans stand out.
  • A pound of beans can be lot for small families. Kate froze half and is looking forward to using her freezer bean stash.
  • We used these beans for all sorts of meals. We made rice and beans as the recipe suggested, as a side for eggs in the morning, in tacos, and in enchiladas.

Simple Ribollita from Bon Appetit

Ribollita is a simple Tuscan stew with beans, greens, and day-old bread to stretch the dish even further. Bon Appetit decided to gild the lily and top it with even more bread, drizzled with olive oil for a crunchy topping. Humble ingredients come together for a meal fit for company.

Tips:

  • The stew does not get a ton of simmering time. If you like softer carrots and celery (like Kate) take the time at the beginning to really sweat the vegetables down until they are soft.
  • We thought the broth was a little flat, which could have been helped by using stock instead of water.
  • The crunchy topping on a soupy/stewy meal doesn’t reheat terribly well. If you have a smaller family, consider halving the recipe. Or cooking just the stew and topping with croutons instead.

From the Smorgasbord:

Bean Tips:

  • Remember- dry beans are a natural food. In other words, cooking times may vary on age, type of bean, and even the growing conditions when harvested. Use all cooking times as a guide. Anticipate adding cooking time and taste, taste, taste!
  • We love Rancho Gordo (Not an ad. But if you’re reading Rancho Gordo, we love you!). Their products are top-notch. Plus, if you stock up they offer free shipping after $75. Plan for the year or split an order with a friend. Worth it.

More Chicken Fun:

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