Tag Archives: beans

Vegetarian Chili (or, yet another good bean recipe!)

16 Jul

I hesitate in summertime to do beans from dry because I don’t want to simmer anything for an hour in this heat! (I am sure a slow-cooker would be a solution, but I don’t have one and don’t have room for one). So, it’s cans for me, and if they have a pull-off top, even better. I want to minimize all movement in the Hazy, Hot, Humidity of a Long Island summer (Ditto for wine bottles…a screw top is high up on my ratings rubric right now; corks take too much work!)

In fact, I want to keep cooking to a minimum, so rather than season my ground beef or even have to defrost and simmer the pre-made stuff I have stocked in the freezer, my “chili” has gone vegetarian. I call it “chili” because I add chili powder, but I make no claims to authenticity. If you want to call it rice and beans with chili seasoning, by all means do. “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” to quote a certain lovelorn 13-year-old from Verona.

Whatever you call it, it will be ready to eat in about 15 minutes, and I call that fast!

Vegetarian Chili (or rice and beans with chili powder!)

1 Tbs olive oil

½ medium onion, chopped fine (about 1/2 Cup)

½ medium red bell pepper chopped fine (about 1/2 Cup)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 heaping Tbs tomato paste

15.5 oz can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

½ tsp oregano

½ tsp chile powder

2 tsp chopped fresh cilantro

1 tsp thyme

Pinch red pepper flakes

1 bay leaf

Salt to taste

Heat olive oil at medium-high in a saucepan until loose and fragrant. Add onions, stir to coat and reduce heat to medium. Add red pepper and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes, or until vegetables are translucent and soft. Add tomato paste, stir in to coat and cook for a minute.  Stir in beans, oregano, chile powder, cilantro, thyme, red pepper flakes and bay leaf. Add ½ Cup water (more, if you want it more liquid) and cook for 15-20 minutes. Salt to taste and serve with white rice or wrapped in tortillas with cheese, shredded lettuce, salsa and all that fun Mexican restaurant-type stuff.

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Alubias con Chorizo (Cannellini with Hot Spanish Sausage)

19 Feb

When I first moved to Puerto Rico as a grown-up and got a job in San Juan, I lived several weeks with my godparents (from Confirmation, if you’re Catholic) in Ocean Park, in their art-filled, book-lined, sun-drenched house on the beach. When I found an apartment, I didn’t go far; for the next six years — más o menos — I lived around the corner, five houses away, and I spent almost as many dinnertimes there as in my own little house.

Carmen and I assembled lots of meals together, inventing pasta dishes, reviving old family recipes, experimenting with local ingredients from the farmer’s market, trying out exotic ingredients from whatever new specialty shop opened nearby and talking, talking, talking, to a soundtrack of the classical music station (Schumann, Schubert, Bach, come to mind) or old boleros from a more refined past (Trío Los Panchos, Rafael Hernández).

Those are some of my favorite memories from that time. So it’s always a pleasure to visit Carmen and Efrén when we are back in Puerto Rico — now I bring my son! — and, of course, get back into the kitchen. Over the holidays, Leandro, my parents and I stayed a few delicious days with them in Ocean Park (my parents and they have been friends for about 50 years now!), including visits from Carmen’s best friend, the noted playwright and director, Myrna Casas, and Baby Llenza, another notable chef!

Carmen made this as part of one lovely dinner and I couldn’t wait to try it myself. She recently sent me the recipe via email. It really is better with giant Spanish-style alubias in a jar, but cannellini from a can are a very tasty substitute if that’s what you have on hand. Just cook gently so they don’t fall apart!

Carmen’s Alubias con Chorizo

2-3 Tbs olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped fine

3 (or more!) cloves garlic, minced

15 oz can crushed tomatoes, drained (reserve liquid) or 1 ripe tomato, chopped or 2 Tbs tomato paste (you can add a handful of chopped grape tomatoes, if you’ve got, to freshen the flavor)

4 oz spicy Spanish chorizo (the hard, continental kind, similar to Italian hot dry sausage), peeled and chopped

19 oz jar of alubias from Viter – do NOT drain (or, 28 oz can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed)

Heat the oil in a pot until fragrant. Add onions and garlic, reduce to medium and soften. Add tomato and cook down a few minutes. Add chorizo and sauté briefly, just until it is releasing its oil. Add beans and cook until flavors incorporate (canned cannellini will soften very quickly, so do not overcook!). Use reserved tomato water, or just water, for a more liquid pot of beans.

According to Carmen, the Spanish eat this with sautéed Swiss Chard. In Puerto Rico, we accompany it with rice.

¿Que qué? ¡Quesadillas! (Camp stove friendly)

9 Jun

Finger food supreme

One day I will be an eater of sandwiches.

But for now aside from the odd grilled cheese, I am not a sandwich girl. Just don’t like all the bread, the sliced deli meats, cold salads inside…I just don’t get it. Unless of course it is a pressed Cuban sandwich, con todos los poderes, de Elegguá pa’bajo…you know, like real bread, toasted, mad quantities of stuff, greased up…I can do that. In Miami. Or San Juan de Puerto Rico (ah, Kasalta). Occasionally.

But not being a sandwich person in this American life is to miss out on a lot of convenience and portability. So, I have discovered the quesadilla. Take whatever you’ve got in the fridge, spread it over half of a tortilla toasting in a skillet, sprinkle melty cheese, fold it, flip it, and allí está…a sandwich worth eating. Slice it like a pizza and you can dip it into hot sauce too.

It worked very well on our camping trip. Leftover black beans, some Monterrey Jack and sriracha and go, baby, go. Other things I have stuffed into quesadillas include pollo guisado; cheddar cheese and tomato slices; leftover sliced steak; roasted vegetables; sundried tomato and smoked mozzarella…all awesome and all done in no time, sealed with a kiss of cheese. You can slip avocado in the middle where it won’t get hot to give a lovely creaminess (plus health benefits, I am sure, but who cares?)

Quesadillas (with your choice of stuffing)

1 package of large soft tortillas (flour or corn)

a spritz of cooking oil on a good iron skillet or nonstick

1-2 cups filling (LEFTOVERS! cooked beans, cooked veg, stewed meat, sliced cooked meat)

couple of fistfuls shredded meltable cheese

1-2 Tbs herbs/hot red pepper flakes/salsa – it’s up to you to make the matches

Heat the skillet and the oil to medium. Lay a tortilla on it. Cover half with filling (Not too thick! Maybe 1/4 inch – you don’t want a mess). Sprinkle cheese (especially around the edge to make a seal). Fold the empty tortilla half over. Allow to cook a minute, then flip with fingers if you are daring, or a spatula. Turn a few times until a bit crispy and transfer to a plate. Start again with another tortilla. You can slice into wedges and serve with whatever condiments go with your filling.

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