01 April 2013

the musical fruit

Ever since I was a little kid, I've been called Bean. It's been a pretty natural evolution - Jillian to Jilly to Jillybean to Bean. It makes sense. Does it make sense that I love to cook with my namesake beans? Of course it does! Does it make me a cannibal? Yikes, that's a scary thought. When I unpacked my kitchen after the big move, I unpacked what seemed like fifty cans of beans! Seriously, I must have bought out all the cans from my Brooklyn grocery store just so that I could make the move as clunky and heavy as possible. But it worked out for the best. Lately, with my attempts to cut a significant amount of meat out of my diet, I've been cooking with a lot of beans... and because of my abundance, A LOT of beans.

The other day I had the food processor out to make some hummus, one of my all time favorite foods that I've recently started preparing myself (more on that another time,) when I decided that I should try putting some of those other canned beans to work. Chick peas are not the end all be all, no matter how delicious they are. Naturally the second most common canned bean in my pantry was the versatile black bean. Opening the fridge and cupboard I realized that I had all the ingredients necessary to prepare a sort of guacamole - avocado, red onion, salsa,tomato, cilantro, even crunchy tortilla chips from the tortilleria down the street. I thought to myself 'what if I just mixed in some black beans?' So I did. And you know what? Amazing! It turned into a slightly chunky dip filled with the flavors of a traditional guacamole but with an extra oomph from the black beans. Not only did they add flavor, one $.89 can doubled the quantity while cutting the calories and fat (since there wasn't as much so good but so bad avocado,) and pumping up the protein! Between my kid sister and Honey I'm lucky I was able to taste any; and that I was able to get that taste and keep all my fingers in tact! It's a perfect dip for snacking or spreading and will most likely, based on it's popularity, become a staple condiment in our fridge.

black bean guacamole
1 can black beans
1 whole ripe avocado
1 tbsp diced red onions
2 tbsp fresh salsa
1 tsp dried cilantro
dash of cumin
pinch of salt
sprinkling of fresh ground black pepper
splash of favorite hot sauce
1. Blend all ingredients together in a food processor. Add extra salt, pepper and spices to taste. Yup, it's that easy. Garnish with fresh salsa and serve with chips, crudite, or your favorite crunchy dip-able food.

Ok, so that's two cans of beans put to good use with hummus and black bean guacamole. But two wasn't enough, not for this inspired gal! Meatless Monday came around, the first in our new home, and I wanted to make something special and delicious for me and Honey. I didn't want to spend a ton of money but I also wanted the meal to be fresh and tasty. Upon opening the fridge and cupboards I was greeted by beans. Everywhere, beans! It's like they're reproducing in there! I also came across a tube of firm polenta. Immediately, my brain combined the two and added red onion. I started a mental shopping list adding salad stuff to the red onion I needed to get from the grocery store (mixed greens, tomatoes, fresh cilantro, fresh salsa, tortilla chips) and a kitchen list of everything I could use that we already had (avocado, chipotle, cumin, cayenne, avocado oil, pepper jack cheese, black bean guacamole, sour cream, hot sauce, and of course, polenta and beans.) I started mixing and melding in the kitchen. Before I knew it, Southwestern scents wafted upstairs from the sizzling pan drawing both Honey and the cat down ready to dig in. The balance of heat and creamy favors from the peppers and beans and avocado and crisp salad all melded together deliciously making for another vegetarian success!

spicy, cheesy chipotle pink bean polenta (aka honey's melty bean stuff)
firm polenta, sliced
2 tbsp avocado oil
2 tbsp diced red onion
1 can pink beans
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salted chipotle seasoning
dash of black pepper
2 tsp chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 c shredded pepperjack cheese
1. In a heavy bottom skillet heat avocado oil over a medium heat and add onion, cooking until it starts to brown and soften. While the onions are cooking, season the polenta with peppers, cumin and chipotle seasoning. Being careful not to overcrowd the slices, add polenta to pan.
2. Flip the polenta slices to crisp and heat through. Add beans, stirring gently so as not to break polenta slices and cook until heated through. Turn off flame, sprinkle cheese evenly over beans and polenta. Top with cilantro and cover about 3 minutes or until melty. Serve with a dollop of sour cream alongside a green salad.

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