Sunday, March 30, 2014

Week 13: Dapple Grey Beans

When I pulled the Dapple Grey Beans out of my box of beans in the basement, I hadn't done a search online for recipe inspiration yet. And then I did. There's next to none. So, I decided to simply cook the beans on the day I had more home-time, and figure out what to do with them later.

Not having a specific plan, I plainly cooked them. First, washing and sorting (sadly, I forgot to soak them the night before), then putting them in a deep pot, covering them with a couple inches of water. I brought them to a boil over medium heat and then lowered and let them simmer for ~1.5 hours, until soft. I took them off the heat, added ~1 teaspoons of salt and let them sit ~10-15 minutes. Finally, I drained them, reserving ~cup cooking liquid, just in case.

The cooled Dapple Greys were good. Roughly pinto bean size, but nutty with a greater depth of flavor than pintos; a meaty texture. I tried to think how to use them. They would hold up brilliantly to any recipe using canned pintos, and could take stronger flavors than many beans, without getting 'lost'. Still, I had no idea what to make with them.

I finally reached out to my brother & sister-in-law, who are bean cooking experts. They suggested pesto (since the beans could stand up to strong flavors). I never would have come up with that, which is why I consider them the bean experts!

With my brother, Andy's, and sister-in-law, Valerie's, inspiration, I ended up throwing together a watercress/pine nut pesto (since I already had the ingredients), and viola! Below is what I came up with...

Watercress Pesto with Dapple Grey Beans 
  • Half of 1 pound dry Dapple Grey Beans, cooked, ~1 cup cooking liquid reserved
  • 4 ounces watercress, rinsed, shaken dry
  • 3/4 cup pine nuts
  • 7 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste
  • Cook beans (as seen above)
  • Use food processor to blend watercress, peeled garlic, pine nuts, lemon juice, oil and salt until pasty in texture.
  • Add ~1/4 cup resulting pesto to half of the pound of cooked beans.

  • Wonderful served over rice.
  • Significantly better after ~48 hours, as the flavors blend.
  • The pesto is great baked on focaccia bread, too (there's roughly 1 cup pesto, so 2-3 more meals worth). 
  • The pesto was phenomenal, but likely would have been even better with parmesan as an ingredient...however, since I'm dairy-free for my highly-sensitive nursling, I omitted and it was still the best pesto I've ever made.

Have a great week!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Week 12: Cranberry Beans

Catching up... last week's bean was Cranberry Beans.  Similar to pinto beans, but more bland. So bland than when I took a portion of the cooked beans and mashed them and made a small portion of "refries", they were utterly tasteless. That being said, in the below dish, they weren't bad. Just a super bland version of pinto beans. Consequently, going forward I'd simply use pintos (or cannellini or the flageolet beans from week 10, or the Dapple Grey that are on the stove right now, for week 13) for a recipe such as this one..

I actually remembered to soak these, overnight (after sorting and rinsing)!  

It's possible the original recipe would have been better (I omitted the oil and vinegar). Overall, I think a more flavorful bean would have made this significantly better. That being said it was good, and a wonderful New England early-spring dish, just the Cranberry Beans were so bland, I think a different bean would make it great.

Beans on Toast

  • 1 pound dried cranberry beans (or cannellini)
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • Few sprigs of thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped 
  • 1 small potato, peeled and halved 
  • 4 grape tomatoes
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste

    • Sort, rinse and soak beans overnight. Rinse the next morning.
    • Add drained/soaked beans to a pot with thyme, bay leaves, dried rosemary, unpeeled garlic cloves, celery, potato and grape tomatoes. Cover by ~2" in water. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer until soft (~1 hour, give or take).
    • Once cooked, drain liquid, reserving enough to cover roughly halfway up the beans when added back.
    • Remove garlic, potato, grape tomatoes, thyme sprigs and bay leaves.
    • Squeeze garlic out of their skins and pinch off tomato skins. Mash the potato, garlic and tomatoes together, seasoning with salt and pepper, to taste. Add back to the beans, along with liquid to cover halfway up the beans. Mix and warm.
    • Serve over toast, garnished with parsley.


    The original recipe called for sourdough bread, but I used "High Five" from Great Harvest Bread Company, partially because I thought the beans needed a more substantial bread to compliment them, and partially because I LOVE the great taste/all natural ingredients of bread from Great Harvest.

    I didn't get a picture after garnished with the parsley. It needed the boost of flavor.

    Have a great week!

    Wednesday, March 26, 2014

    Week 11: Canary / Peruvian / Peruano / Mayocoba Beans

    And I'm (quite belated) once again. This "bean of many names" was a few weeks ago now.  It was not an exceptional bean, in and of itself. I actually used part of it to mash & make refried beans, as it seemed so similar to a more bland pinto bean in taste and texture. That being said, it's blandness did pick up the flavor of the curry, delightfully. In short, I won't be buying the bean again, but it was a fine dish. I found the original here, but, as usual, tweaked.

    Curried Coconut Canary Beans
    • 1 pound Canary (Peruvian/Peruano/Mayocoba) Beans, sorted and rinsed
    • 1 can coconut milk
    • 1 teaspoon oil
    • 1 fresh jalapeno
    • 1 large red onion, chopped
    • 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped
    • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
    • 1 Tablespoon cumin (or to taste)
    • salt, to taste

    1. Place sorted and rinsed Canary Beans in large pot and cover with water.
    2. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
    3. Lower heat and simmer, partially covered, until beans are tender (~1-2 hours, depending if you soaked them overnight ahead of time).
    4. Once fully cooked, drain beans, reserving ~1 cup of cooking liquid.
    5. Warm oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook chopped onion, garlic, jalapeno and ginger for 3-5 minutes or until translucent.
    6. Add spices and salt, cook 1-2 minutes.
    7. Add cooked beans and small amount of reserved cooking liquid (adding to get the consistency desired).
    8. Cook ~20-30 minutes, or until flavors begin to blend.
    • Serve over rice.  
    • Will be better after 24-48 hours.

    It wasn't pretty, but after a couple days was yummy!

    Have a great week
    (hopefully I'll catch up on belated posts in a few days though)!

    Tuesday, March 11, 2014

    Week 10: Flageolet Beans

    So I didn't manage to get this posted last week, but does it count that we ate it last week? This week I again grabbed whatever bag my hand landed on in my box from North Bay... and viola! Flageolet Beans. Which are French. So the whole "viola!" really felt appropriate.

    Since these are French beans, I decided to make something French with them. A dish I always wanted to enjoy, but was always put off by the copious amounts of meat in it is Cassoulet. It's a rich, slow-cooked bean stew with more types of meat than I can count. So I was delighted with this healthier version I found from a 2008 Gourmet magazine recipe.

    I once again forgot to soak the beans, overnight, so I sorted, rinsed and cooked them directly.  I covered them in water and boiled ~2 hours, until soft.  I took them off the heat, added salt and let them sit ~15 minutes.  Meanwhile, I started on the vegetable portion of the soup...

    Shockingly, I actually followed the recipe.  And I could not be more pleased that I did.  The beans are what I think Navy Beans should taste like (but have always been disappointed by).  They're dense, strong with a nice earthy flavor...perfect for this dish...

    Vegetarian Cassoulet
    Gourmet Magazine, March 2008 

        For Cassoulet:
    • 3 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only)
    • 4 medium carrots, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch-wide pieces
    • 3 celery ribs, cut into 1-inch-wide pieces
    • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
    • 1/4 cup olive oil  2 Tablespoons oil
    • 4 thyme sprigs
    • 2 parsley sprigs
    • 1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
    • 3 (19-oz) cans cannellini or Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained 1lb cooked Flageolet Beans
    • 1 qt water
        For Garlic Crumbs:
    • 4 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs from a baguette
    • 1/3 cup olive oil 2 Tablespoons oil of your choice
    • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
    • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
      • Halve leeks lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces, then wash well (see cooks’ note, below) and pat dry.
      • Cook leeks, carrots, celery, and garlic in oil with herb sprigs, bay leaf, cloves, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a large heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden, about 15 minutes. Stir in beans, then water, and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender but not falling apart, about 30 minutes.
        • Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
        • Toss bread crumbs with oil, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a bowl until well coated. Spread in a baking pan and toast in oven, stirring once halfway through, until crisp and golden, 12 to 15 minutes.
        • Cool crumbs in pan, then return to bowl and stir in parsley.
            • Discard herb sprigs and bay leaf. Mash some of beans in pot with a potato masher or back of a spoon to thicken broth. Season with salt and pepper. Just before serving, sprinkle with garlic crumbs.


            Superb, hearty and a wonderful late-winter dish!

            Have a great week!

            Monday, March 3, 2014

            Week 9: Pink Beans

            So coming off of my harried week, it was school vacation week!  Our weather was cold, but beautiful, so we were having fun each day (hence why I, once again, didn't get the week's bean posted).

            When I picked the bean for the week, I reached into my box and grabbed what my hand landed on, which was... Pink Beans!  

            I've made pink beans before, many years ago.  They are vaguely similar to pinto beans and are popular in refried beans and chili.  I was craving coconut lime rice, so I went for a Caribbean feel.  

            I forgot to soak the beans, overnight, so I sorted, rinsed and cooked them directly.  I covered them in water and boiled ~2 hours, until soft.  I took them off the heat, added salt and let them sit ~15 minutes, and then drained them.

            Then, the rest I made up as I went along...

            Caribbean Rice, Beans and (optional) Sausage 

            • 2 cups rice (I use jasmine rice from Trader Joe's)
            • 15 oz can coconut milk
            • 2 Tablespoons lime juice 
            • ~1 teaspoon salt

            • cooked, well-drained, Pink Beans (cooked plainly, see above)

            • 1 package chicken sausage, to taste
            • 1 medium red onion
            • 5-6 oz arugula
            • salt, to taste
            1. Cook rice with coconut milk, lime juice and salt (I use a rice cooker to make it easy).
            2. If making a non-vegetarian version, you can... chop onion and cook until beginning to soften.
            3. Add cut-up chicken sausage and cook until warm.
            4. Add arugula and cook until beginning to wilt.
            5. Salt to taste.
            6. Serve rice, topped with beans and served with pepper sauce for a vegetarian version.
            7. Add sausage on top for a non-vegetarian version.

            • Not bad, but I would have tried to make refried beans with the pink beans if I had tried this first.

            Have a great week!

            Week 8: Canned Fava beans

            Some weeks get away from you.  Or two, as the case may be!

            Week 8 was a rough week here.  With my husband in sunny California, and us getting hit with two plowable snow storms during his absence, there wasn't a ton of time to focus on cooking, and certainly not posting!  So, this is behind...  I contemplated not posting at all.  Then I realized, this is exactly the kind of thing I should document.  A week of making do with what was on hand.  And so, I present my thrown together bean meal for two weeks ago...

            Quinoa Salad with Canned Fava Beans

            • 15 oz can Fava Beans
            • English Cucumber, ~half 
            • Grape Tomatoes, ~dozen 
            • Arugula, 5-6 oz
            • 1 cup dry quinoa, 
            • salt, to taste

            1. While prepping the rest of the salad, cook one cup of dry quinoa in 2.25 cups water (salt to taste) in a rice cooker.  I know there are other ways to cook quinoa, but this is the way I cook it.
            2. Chop cucumber and grape tomatoes. 
            3. When quinoa cooked and cooled, mix together with chopped cucumber, tomatoes, arugula and rinsed can of fava beans. 
            4. Salt to taste.
            I ate this for several meals (since my husband was away and there was lots of snow to manage) over salad greens, with olives.  It was quick, nutritious, and delicious.

            Have a great week!