14 October 2013

BLACK BEANS - AND A SURPRISE 'MEXICAN' WEEKEND

BLACK BEANS
Black beans, also known as Turtle beans, are very popular in Latin American cuisine, but  can be found here in health food stores. Or in the 'black hole' back of my kitchen cupboard, amongst other interesting, exotic things, waiting to be remembered ;-) With only a little shelf-life left, so having to eat them sooner rather than later, but being complete black-bean novices, we managed to find some fabulous recipes on the Web and ended up with the most surprising, delicious and mouth- eye-opening 'Mexican weekend'. 

BLACK BEANS
I made a large pot of beans and it filled several burritos, and a couple of Quesadillas. Although we cook and eat a lot of different beans and lentils, this was the first time we cooked black beans, but once we will be over the black-bean-weekend-shock (ok, I know they were a lot of beans for two...), definitely not the last. The beans are so interesting, and their beautiful black colour in contrast with the red, white and green vegetables and herbs was a real feast for the eyes too. 

BLACK BEANS
They have a meaty and velvety texture and a distinct, almost mushroom-like flavour. Named as one of the top health foods, they are full of protein and fibre, antioxidants and nutrients, and are high in magnesium, iron and calcium. See here and here for information. I found a fantastic recipe for BEEF AND BLACK BEEN BURRITOS and once we had made those, we had a good idea of the flavour combinations and all went on from there. Below recipe explains how to cook the dried beans. We followed only the first step for cooking and flavouring the beans as we needed them fairly neutral for the other recipes we had in mind. Once cooked, the beans can be used to make soup, can be re-fried, or added to burritos, stews, salads, pasta dishes, the list is long. Once cooked, they will keep for up to three days in the fridge in a covered dish. 

Recipe source: 'Refried Black Beans', by Elise Bauer on Simply Recipes
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Makes 6-8 portions:
500 g dry black beans
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 medium onion (I used a couple of shallots)
1 garlic clove
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander (which I forgot...)

Check the beans and discard any shrivelled up or broken ones. Check carefully for little stones that might be between the beans. 
BLACK BEANS
Put them in a colander and rinse them under running cold water. Place the beans into a large glass bowl (this is preferable to a plastic bowl as the dark purple-black bean soaking liquid might stain the bowl). Cover them with plenty of cold water, then cover the bowl and leave the beans to soak over night. If possible, drain off the water once during this time and replace with fresh cold water. Tip: In case the beans are not fresh, add 1.5 tsp salt per litre of soaking water. This will help to soften the beans when they cook later. If you don't have enough time to soak the beans, clean and rinse them, then cover them with a good layer of boiling water and let them sit for one hour. 
BLACK BEANS
On the next day drain off and discard the soaking liquid. 
BLACK BEANS
Peel and chop the onion, peel and mince the garlic. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large thick-bottomed pot on medium-high heat. Add 1/2 tsp cumin and cook until sizzling. Add the chopped onion and cook until translucent, app. 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for a further minute. 
BLACK BEANS
Add the drained beans and stir with the onion and garlic.
BLACK BEANS
Add 2 litres of water, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 2 hours. Remove any surface scum with a slotted spoon. 
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After 2 hours add 2 tsp of salt (if you added salt into the soaking water, add first 1 tsp, then taste and add only more if necessary). Add 1/2 cup chopped coriander leaves (we forgot...), then leave to simmer uncovered for another half hour or until the beans are tender. 
BLACK BEANS
The beans can be stored in the fridge in a covered dish for up to 3 days. 
BLACK BEANS


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BLACK BEANS 



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Makes 6-8 portions:

500g dry black beans
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 medium onion (I used a couple of shallots)
1 garlic clove
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander

Check the beans and discard any shrivelled up or broken ones. Check carefully for little stones that might be between the beans. Put them in a colander and rinse them under running cold water. Place the beans into a large glass bowl (this is preferable to a plastic bowl as the dark purple-black bean soaking liquid might stain the bowl). Cover them with plenty of cold water, then cover the bowl and leave the beans to soak over night. If possible, drain off the water once during this time and replace with fresh cold water. Tip: In case the beans are not fresh, add 1.5 tsp salt per litre of soaking water. This will help to soften the beans when they cook later. If you don't have enough time to soak the beans, clean and rinse them, then cover them with a good layer of boiling water and let them sit for one hour. On the next day drain off and discard the soaking liquid. Peel and chop the onion, peel and mince the garlic. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large thick-bottomed pot on medium-high heat. Add 1/2 tsp cumin and cook until sizzling. Add the chopped onion and cook until translucent, app. 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for a further minute. Add the drained beans and stir with the onion and garlic. Add 2 litres of water, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 2 hours. Remove any surface scum with a slotted spoon. After 2 hours add 2 tsp of salt (if you added salt into the soaking water, add first 1 tsp, then taste and add only more if necessary). Add 1/2 cup chopped coriander leaves (we forgot...), then leave to simmer uncovered for another half hour or until the beans are tender. The beans can be stored in the fridge in a covered dish for up to 3 days. 
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