Tag Archives: beans

Quinoa, Beet, and Black Bean Burgers

25 Feb

quinoa, beet, and black bean burgers

Once again, I’m playing host here in Buenos Aires (this time, to Andrew’s parents instead of mine). And, although it’s easy for people to eat out for every meal when on vacation, I think there’s nothing like a home-cooked meal after a long plane ride or a day of sight-seeing. These quinoa, beet, and black bean burgers are more complicated than many bean burgers, but the different components can be cooked ahead of time, and the mixture can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week before being formed into patties. This makes them ideal for serving to guests – I did all the legwork ahead of time and just had to fry up some patties and toast some buns to have dinner on the table. Of course, they’re not just convenient – they also have amazing color, flavor, and texture, and I have to give most of the credit to the beets. I would never have guessed that finely diced beets would make such a great base for a veggie burger, but their earthy flavor and firm texture are perfect here. I always like to add chia seeds to my cooked quinoa, so I went ahead and did it here, too, with the added benefit of the chia seeds helping to bind the burger, eliminating the need for an egg (though if you’re having trouble keeping your patties together, you can always still add in an egg to help). I balanced everything with some rehydrated dates, for sweetness, and lemon juice, for tartness, and couldn’t help tossing in some smoked paprika as well (you can use a chopped chipotle pepper in adobo instead for similar smokiness with a spicy kick). These burgers (which can also be formed into balls and used in place of meatballs or on top of a salad) are so flavorful that they barely need any toppings – but I went ahead and added halved cherry tomatoes and pickled red onions for a little fresh crispness.

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Tropical Black Bean Quinoa Salad

6 Feb

tropical black bean quinoa salad

Inspired by the coconut breakfast quinoa I recently cooked up, I decided to try a savory preparation using quinoa cooked with coconut milk. I added black beans for extra substance and played off the tropical flavor of the coconut with mango, avocado, fresh mint, and lime juice. The resulting salad was colorful and delicious (not to mention healthy) – perfect for serving my parents for dinner at the end of a hot day of sightseeing.

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Chana Masala

23 Jan

chana masala

Despite the lengthy ingredient list, this North Indian chickpea stew comes together quickly and easily. It’s more of a tart curry, rather than some of the creamy ones with lots of warming spices (cinnamon, cloves, etc). Here, acidic tomatoes, tart amchoor powder, and citric lemon juice are strong components, alongside a hefty quantity of spices, of course. But it still manages to feel balanced, especially when served over rice (or quinoa, as I served it). I added cauliflower florets to my version (I think that actually makes this gobi chana masala), which I think are great alongside the creamy chickpeas. A sprinkle of cilantro at the end proved surprisingly crucial in rounding out the flavors (I wouldn’t omit it), and a little yogurt on top helps to quench the heat of hot peppers and ground cayenne pepper. I also topped mine with pickled red onions and thought their crispness was a great complementary texture. This curry, by the way, only improves with a couple of days in the refrigerator, so don’t hesitate to make this large batch even if you’re only cooking for one or two.

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Basic Chickpeas

21 Jan

basic chickpeas

Yes, yes, another dried bean recipe… this one’s actually even simpler than my past basic beans. But chickpeas (which also spend time under the pseudonym garbanzo beans) are an especially easy bean to cook up. They’re extra creamy when cooked from dried and don’t even need a whole lot of aromatics – I only added a hefty amount of garlic and some olive oil to my pot. Although in the past I’ve refrained from adding salt to beans before they’re cooked, due to various rumors about it negatively impacting the texture, I’ve now changed my stance. While I still don’t add salt during the cooking process, I’ve started soaking my dried beans in salted water overnight, which I’ve found adds extra flavor to the finished beans and even seems to ultimately improve the texture. And since I’m talking about general tips for cooking beans, it’s good to know that while aromatics (such as onion, garlic, fresh herbs, and spices) will only improve your beans, anything acidic (like citrus, tomatoes, or vinegar) needs to be added after the beans have softened or else they’ll stay hard for hours on end. Of course, no matter what, cooking up dried beans does require some patience, since I’ve yet to cook up a pot of beans in under two hours, even after overnight soaking. But there’s so little work involved that it really just means experiencing the comforting, savory aroma filling your kitchen while occasionally sneaking a taste to check the texture.

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Basic Pinto Beans

14 Jan

basic pinto beans

I’ve most likely waxed lyrical on here about chipotle peppers before, but I don’t think I’ve ever truly appreciated them quite so much as when I saw them on a grocery store shelf for the first time in months. It’s been much easier to find some ingredients here in Montevideo than in Buenos Aires, despite it being a smaller city – I’m not positive on why, but I suspect it’s most likely because of the strict regulations and high taxes on imports into Argentina. Whatever the reason, I finally had my hands on a can of smoky chipotle peppers in spicy adobo sauce, and I knew I had to make good use of them. With my recent love of cooking up dried beans, it made sense to use these wonderful peppers as the flavor backbone for a pot of pinto beans. And they did not disappoint, imbuing each creamy bean with smoke and spice.

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Warm Kale, White Bean, and Anchovy Salad

11 Jan

warm kale, white bean, and anchovy salad

It’s weird what foods you miss being away from home. I knew that I’d miss peanut butter and good quality dark chocolate, both difficult to find around here (or expensive once you do find them). But I’d never guessed that I’d start craving kale. It was nowhere to be found in Buenos Aires, and I’ve been really hoping to make a raw kale salad. When I came across some at an organic store here in Montevideo, I was really excited – I know, I know, this is kale we’re talking about, but there’s nothing like satisfying a craving! Sadly, it was too tough to eat raw. So instead I decided to cook it minimally with some white beans and a whole lot of garlic and anchovies. With the addition of almonds, raisins, parmesan, and pickled roasted peppers, this warm salad more than satisfied my craving for chewy, hearty kale. The anchovy flavor is reminiscent of a good Caesar salad, but the kale and white beans make this a lot healthier.

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Basic White Beans

7 Jan

basic white beans

When I first arrived in South America and found myself faced with a dismal selection of canned beans (the few that were available being expensive and poor quality), I was very disheartened. Beans are a staple in my cooking, and I wasn’t sure how I’d manage. Now, though, I feel glad to have been forced into cooking up dried beans. After many batches of black beans, I decided to try my hand at other beans as well. This basic recipe should work with nearly any variety of white beans – I can’t say exactly what variety I used, but they were the only dried white beans available here, labeled simply as “porotos alubia.” Whatever the variety, they’ve been great to have on hand for putting on salads or in soups, and when I ran out of the beans themselves, I even used the remaining cooking liquid to add extra flavor and richness to a simple lentil and vegetable soup. I look forward now to cooking up my weekly batch of beans, and I think this is a habit I’ll keep even after I return somewhere with canned beans readily available.

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Refried Black Beans

19 Dec

refried black beans

Beans might not be particularly glamorous (or easy to photograph), but they’re one of my favorite ingredients. Filling and flavorful, they’re a great base for a meal, especially if you don’t eat meat or, like me, only eat meat occasionally. (Of course, they can also be great when served with meat, too.) I’ve always been a fan of refried beans, but for some reason figured they would be time-consuming to prepare or else require vastly unhealthy quantities of fat. Not the case, though, as these refried black beans (you can use pinto beans instead, if you like) come together in about half an hour, and the fat quantity can be adjusted to your liking (from two tablespoons to keep things healthy to four tablespoons to get the most flavor). These are great for adding to wraps (burritos included, of course) or eating with some rice or quinoa. I also thought they went especially well with a side of roasted corn salsa as the sweetness and texture of the corn was great alongside the creamy richness of the beans.

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Taco Salad

12 Nov

taco salad

Have I mentioned that it’s spring here in Buenos Aires? I’ve always preferred warmer weather, but it’s been a little weird seeing November on the calendar while going through a heatwave – temperatures were up to the mid-90s recently! (That’s Fahrenheit, of course; I still haven’t made the adjustment over to Celsius.) Given the weather, I’ve been eating a lot of salads, but in true Argentine fashion, I just can’t help topping them with meat (like my Thai steak salad) – it’s cheap and good quality here and adds extra protein to the meal. I think this recipe for taco salad could be easily adapted to be vegetarian, however, by omitting the ground beef and adding more beans (a mixture of black and pinto beans would be my suggestion). With or without the beef, this is a salad worth making. With a base of lettuce and cabbage (dressed with a simple red wine vinaigrette), it’s definitely a healthier alternative to the nachos and tacos it resembles, but it doesn’t feel like you’re missing out, especially when you pile on the toppings.

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Basic Black Beans

9 Nov

basic black beans

I know I already posted a recipe for cooking dried black beans (and quite recently too), but I couldn’t resist posting another one. My previous recipe has a long ingredient list and turns out a flavorful bowl of beans ready to be eaten plain, but this recipe is different. It’s much more basic, with a very short ingredient list (even shorter if you leave out the two optional ingredients, cumin and cilantro), meaning that you most likely have all the ingredients already on hand and can make these beans with almost no effort. I like this recipe for making black beans just to have on hand, to use in place of canned beans in recipes (a 15-ounce can is about 1 1/2 cups of beans, so this recipe makes the equivalent of about 4 cans). Onion and garlic give the basic backbone of savory flavors to these beans, and a little red wine vinegar stirred in at the end helps balance them, but it’s nothing fancy here, just a great building block for any black bean soup, black bean salad, or other black bean dish you might want to cook up.

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