Beans are among nature's most important gifts to humans. Almost every great civilization has grown to greatness and sustained itself with the help of the bean. And to cook without the goodness of the bean is to rob all who eat at one's table of one of natures best foods. The number of bean varieties under cultivation is mind-boggling to any person who has briefly studied the issue. For practical purposes most beans can be compared to the following:
- Pinto Beans - refried beans and borrachos, in dips.
- Lentils green, red - dals, lentil salad
- Kidney Beans red, white (cannelini beans) - chili, tuna salad
- Black Beans - black bean chili, soup, salsa
- Grean Beans & Wax Beans - vegetable dishes and salads
- Soy Beans - tofu, tempeh
- Navy Beans (Great Northern) - baked beans
- Green Peas ( dried ) - pea soup
- Garbonzo Beans - curried, minestrone soup, flour
- Fava Beans - flour
- Lima Beans - succotash
- Mung Beans
- Black-Eyed Peas - boiled with bacon
- Adzuki Beans - Japanses cooking
- Anasazi Beans - as Navy Beans
Beans are one of nature's most ideal foods because they:
- Are packed with protein.
- Possess proteins that complement those in grains to provide a complete array of proteins required in the diet.
- Are constructed from very complex carbohydrates that digest very slowly and are released over a very extended period of time, sustaining even blood sugar levels, which may lower the risk of diabetes.
- Are inexpensive to produce and consume compared to all animal based foods.
- Keep in storage better than almost any food.
- Are rich in B vitamins and other essential nutrients. Some contain antioxidants that are presumed to help prevent aging.
- Are extraordinarily good sources of fiber and may lower the risk of colon cancer or atheroschlerosis.
- Actually taste quite good if cooked properly.
- Come in novel colors, some of which are rare among cooked foods - dark red, black or orange being some examples.
- Meld very nicely with vegetables, meats, or grains in a wide variety of dishes
Several complaints have been levelled against beans. One is that they are boring. This certainly can be the case if they are not cooked properly. But if they are cooked properly, the dishes can be at least as pleasing to eat as many or even most meat dishes. Vegetarian cookbooks and Indian cookbooks have done a great deal to promote the use of beans and they contain a large number of highly useful ideas.
The second complaint is that beans tend to be "windy." In the short term, this is an easy problem to correct; simply use the magical enzyme sold as "Beano" and the problem will go away. It is reported that orange juice taken with beans or carrots cooked with beans will eliminate the problem. But the issue is simpler than that. A person who eats beans regularly - say three times per week - will soon find that beans are no more windy than other foods. In fact, a person who eats plenty of beans may find that the whole digestive system works much more happily most of the time. It will only be when too much meat or milk is consumed that the problem recurs.
An excellent site on Beans can be found here.
Tuna Salad with Cannelini Beans
Hardly a week goes by during summer without this dish appearing at our table. It is delicious, nutritionally packed, speedy to prepare, and satisfying. It's hard to get much better than that.
- Open and drain one can tuna
- Open and drain one can cannellini beans ( white kidney beans)
- Clean and chop one red bell pepper
- Slice 12 green olives (pitted)
- Mince 1 tablespoon onion (optional)
- Crumble the tuna in a bowl
- Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 6 turns pepper
- Add 1/4 cup mayonaise and mix
- Add the vegetables and beans and mix
- Finish with a few dashes of dried chervil
This salad is great by itself. It is even better served on rice cakes or toasted bread. There is a terriaki-nori rice cake that is particularly good with it.
Curried Garbonzo Beans & Cauliflower
This recipe produces a subtle-flavored, fragrant curry dish that can seem just a little underwhelming at first, but whose subtle charms somehow grow more compelling. It makes for very good leftovers. It might well be served with one or two very intensely flavored chutneys, or pickles since its own flavor is so understated.
- Soak 1/2 lb garbonzo beans in water overnight.
- Drain,rinse, place in a slow cooker with 3 cups of water.
- Chop and saute 1 large onion in 2 tbs olive oil. ( If one is looking for more intense flavor one may use 2 onions and double the amount of curry powder. One can also add hot pepper flavors; the curries used here are quite mild)
- Add 1 tablespoon Rongan Josh curry powder and 1 teaspoon Maharajah curry powder available here.
- Add the onions to the beans and cook on medium heat for 4 hours, stirring hourly.
- At the end of 3 hours cut up a head of cauliflower in slices and saute it in 2 tbs butter until golden, about three minutes per side.
- Add the cauliflower to the beans.
- Clean and cut up a red bell pepper into 1/4 inch squares, and add to curry.
- Cook at least 30 minutes longer
- Meanwhile, make a batch of long grained brown rice.
- When the rice is finished cooking, Drain at least half the liquid from the curry, mix with 1/2 cup rice, puree in a blender or food processor, and add back with the curry.
- Stir in
- 1 tsp salt or 1 T Tamari
- 1 T butter or 1/3 cup sour cream or coconut milk 'cream.'
- Serve with rice.
- Garnish with lime wedges or lime pickle, cilantro.
Meatless Meatloaf - Lentils & Rice
This meatloaf provides the balanced proteins of rice and beans. It also delivers a flavor that some will find even more interesting than meat. The leftovers can be even better than the first helping.
- Cook 1 cup (dry) lentils and 1 cup (dry) long grain white rice per package directions.
- When rice and lentils are done cooking, set them aside and let them begin to cool.
- While they are cooling, dice and saute 1 onion, 1 red bell pepper, and 2 stalks of celery in 3 tbs olive oil - medium heat
- Once the onion has become transparent and started to color, add the following spices:
- 1 teaspoon rubbed sage
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons thyme
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley
- 6 turns pepper
- 1 clove garlic crushed and minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons Tamari or other soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- Continue cooking, stirring periodically, for one more minute. Remove from heat.
- Combine rice and lentils in a mixing bowl. Add the onion and spices.
- Form some rice and lentil into a ball. If the mixture is wet or sloppy, correct by adding up to 1/3 cup crushed crackers or bread crumbs. If the mixture is too dry, correct by adding an egg.
- 'Grease' two pyrex bread pans with butter or olive oil.
- Place the mixture in the bread pans and bake at 35o for 30 minutes.
- Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
- Serve with riced potatoes and a spinach and mushroom salad.
- Prickly Pear (cactus)
- Rose Hips
- Star Fruit
- Place a very heavy cast iron griddle on a burner set to medium and heat for 3 minutes.
- Preheat the broiler
- Meanwhile, clean a salmon filet - rinse it and pat it completely dry.
- Coat both sides of the filet eavenly with olive oil
- Place the salmon on the griddle and place the griddle in the broiler.
- Cook a 1 inch thick fillet 11 minutes, rest two minutes and serve.
Eat well and prosper
Copyright S.R. Brubaker 2002 - 2006.