Posts Tagged ‘Beans’

I recently had really good food on an airplane.


Well, to be honest, I bought it at the airport, and ate it on the airplane.  Unless you fly first class, you don’t get real meals from the airlines anymore.  Which is just as well, when you can buy yummy things like this and eat them in flight.  I remember what they used to serve, and, believe me, this is a big, big improvement.  In fact, I liked it so much, I tried to memorize the list of ingredients to recreate the dish at home.  Here’s my best approximation…

It starts with couscous, but you could up the nutritional content and make this with quinoa or millet or even brown rice, and it would be higher in fiber and virtue.  But the original was made with couscous, so I started there.  Cook the couscous as you normally would (1 cup dry couscous to 1 1/2 cups boiling water), but add curry powder or curry paste (my favorite) to the water.  Add chopped vegetables, diced dried apricots, drained and rinsed garbanzo beans and chopped fresh herbs.  Drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil.  Toss a few cashews on top for crunch.  And sit down to a fabulous light lunch, with plenty of leg room to spare.

Curried Couscous Salad with Apricots and Garbanzo Beans


3 cups dry couscous

4 1/2 cups water, brought to a boil

1 tsp salt

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp curry paste, or curry powder, to taste

2 stalks celery, diced

1/2 cup dried apricots, diced

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1 large shallot, minced

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped

Zest of one lemon

Juice of 1-2 lemons

Olive oil for drizzling on top


Place dry couscous in a shallow casserole or 9 x 13 pan.  Cover with boiling water, which you have added the salt, oil and curry paste (or powder).  Cover and let sit for 15 minutes.  Uncover and fluff with a fork.  While you allow this to come to room temperature, diced and chop the celery, pepper, apricots, shallots and herbs.  Add these and garbanzo beans to the cooled couscous, tossing gently to combine.  Drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil.


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Lamb has become our “go-to” meat when company is coming for dinner.  It’s tasty, it’s local, and it’s a bit uncommon. In fact, most of our guests either have never had lamb, or are a bit wary. Sometimes they have bad memories of dried out lamb with gooey mint jelly, or maybe they’re thinking of how cute the little guys are. In every case, though, we win them over and they leave our table converts to the delights of eating properly cooked lamb.

Lamb can be grilled with great success, but this weekend I made a delicious stew, with Moroccan spices, apricots and garbanzo beans. Like any stew, the work is front-loaded. You do all your prep, get it cooking, and then go about your day, maybe getting ready for guests, while it bubbles away and comes together into sweet spicy goodness on your stove.

I like to serve this with couscous flavored with chopped mint, toasted slivered almonds, and grated lemon zest. Lightly steamed green beans provide a touch of contrast, and a full-bodied red wine like Shiraz or Malbec is a fine complement.

Note: Shoulder is a good cut for stew, but I’ve had success with leg of lamb, when shoulder wasn’t available.  A leg is usually close to five pounds, so double the recipe and invite a few more friends.

Serves 6.

Adapted from Bon Appétit


1 tablespoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 1/2 pounds trimmed lamb, cut into 1 1/2- to 2-inch chunks

4 Tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 Tablespoon tomato paste

2 cups low-salt chicken broth

15 ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained

1 cup dried apricots (about 5 ounces), halved

15 ounce can diced tomatoes

2 cinnamon sticks

1 Tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger

2 teaspoons (packed) grated lemon peel

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro


Mix first 6 ingredients in large bowl. Add lamb and toss to coat. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add lamb to skillet and cook until browned on all sides, turning occasionally and adding 2 more tablespoons oil to skillet between batches, about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer lamb to another large bowl after each batch.

Add onion and tomato paste to drippings in skillet. Reduce heat to medium; sauté until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add broth, garbanzo beans, apricots, tomatoes, cinnamon sticks, ginger, and lemon peel and bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Return lamb to skillet and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until lamb is just tender, about 1 hour. Uncover and simmer until sauce thickens enough to coat spoon, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer lamb and sauce to bowl. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

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“Enough with the sweets already!,” you’re saying.  I understand. It’s time for dinner, and you’re wondering what I’ve got in the light, nutritious and flavorful category. Well, fear not.  I’ve got just the thing — baked tilapia over nutty brown rice, black beans, pineapple and salsa.  How’s that?  You’re welcome.

Adapted from Ingrid Hoffmann


1 cup long grain brown rice

2 cups chicken broth

1 Tbsp. olive oil

Zest of one lime

Juice of one lime

Cilantro, chopped

Salt & Pepper

4 (~6 oz.) tilapia filets

2 cups of your favorite chunky tomato salsa (jarred or homemade), drained

15 oz. can Black Beans, rinsed and drained

2 cups diced pineapple (fresh is best, but canned works in a pinch)

Fresh limes for garnish


Combine rice and chicken broth in a pot.  Bring to boil.  Lower heat to “low” and cover.  Cook for 45-50 minutes, or until rice is tender and broth is completely absorbed.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Stir together the cooked rice, salsa, beans, and pineapple. Spread in a 9×13 pan or other shallow 2-3 quart casserole dish.

Brush tilapia with olive oil.  Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.  Squeeze lime over the fish and lay the filets over the top of the rice mixture.  Sprinkle with chopped cilantro.

Bake until the fish flakes easily, is opaque and cooked through, 25-30 minutes.

Serve with lime slices.

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Today, we are going to be talking about Yankee food (and I don’t mean hot dogs at the ball park). To understand Yankee food, you have to answer the question, “What is a Yankee?” To people in the Western Hemisphere, a Yankee is someone from North America (think “Yankee, go home!”). To North Americans, Yankees live in the United States. To Americans, a Yankee is someone above the Mason-Dixon line. People in those northern states would say a Yankee is someone who lives in New England.  To New Englanders, a Yankee lives in Vermont. And Vermonters would say a Yankee is someone who eats apple pie for breakfast…

… or maybe baked beans and brown bread.  This recipe was given to me by an old friend whose family had been in New England so long that they had land that had been given to them as payment for service in the war — you know, the Revolutionary War.

Food can reach back and teach us about the past.  In those early days when white folks first settled New England, they ate what they could grow. Beans were (and still are) cheap and filling, and meat was used sparingly. This bread uses modest amounts of wheat, which was less available than other grains, contains no precious oil or butter, and is steamed in the manner of old English puddings.  The result is a delicious, hearty and healthy meal and a lesson in American history.

Nancy’s Boston Baked Beans

Warning! This makes a massive amount of beans.  Feed your family.  Feed your neighbors.


One onion, quartered

2 lbs. Jacob Cattle Beans, or other small white bean (I used Great Northern beans)

8 oz. salt pork (can substitute bacon if necessary)

1/4 cup brown sugar

2/3 cup molasses

2 tsp. dry mustard

4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper


Soak beans overnight in a large pot with water covering the beans by two inches.  In the morning, parboil the beans for 30 minutes or until the skins start to come off when you blow on them.  Drain.

In large bean pot or dutch oven, place quartered onion, and cover with beans.  Place salt pork on top of beans. Mix the sugar, molasses, mustard, pepper and salt with 2 cups boiling water. Pour mixture over the beans.  Add more water to cover the surface of the beans.  Cover the pot with a lid and bake at 300 degrees F for 6 hours or more, adding more hot water as the beans cook.  Serve with brown bread (recipe below).

Brown Bread

This is traditionally made in old coffee cans, but coffee doesn’t come in cans so often anymore, so one has to improvise. Improvising makes real Yankees happy.  Do not go to your local kitchen supply store and buy a fancy pudding mold.  That would offend those thrifty folks, whose motto was “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”


1 cup yellow cornmeal

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup whole grain rye flour

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

2 cups buttermilk

1 cup molasses

1 cup raisins or dried currants


Generously butter one 9×5 inch loaf pan or 2 clean 28 ounce tin cans.  Mix first 5 ingredients in large bowl.  Add buttermilk, molasses and raisins and stir well to combine.

Transfer batter to prepared loaf pan or divide between the two prepared cans.  Butter a piece of foil and use it to cover the pan well, buttered side down.  Secure with kitchen twine.  Place loaf pan in a large wide pot (I used my stock pot).  Pour enough water into pot to come halfway up sides of loaf pan or cans.  Bring water to boil, then reduce heat to low.  Cover pot and simmer until tester inserted into center of bread comes out clean, about three hours.  Add more water to pot as necessary to keep water halfway up sides of pan or cans.

Remove pan or cans from pot.  Cool bread in pan for 15 minutes before gently removing.  Slice and serve, either warm or at room temperature.  Brown bread is very good smeared with cream cheese.

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A while back, someone asked my daughter what she thought my favorite food was. I was contemplating all the various possible pastries competing for that honor, when I heard her confidant answer… “soup!”  (Soup?!)  I had to laugh. But she’s right, I do love soup.  And I can’t blame her for thinking it’s my favorite, given how often I serve it.  A standard weekly dinner at our house is “Soup, Salad, Bread.”  You can travel the world’s cuisines by eating soup and never be bored. Soup is infinitely variable, reliably healthy, and always a comforting end to a long day.  I usually make a big pot of soup early in the week.  It’s dinner for us the first night, and lunches for me all week.  Soup is my secret weapon in my personal battle of the bulge.

Now, I’ve never been to Italy.  But this particular recipe is a so full of flavor and color and texture, that I can pretend I’m there, at some villa in the countryside, with a good bottle of local wine, and some crusty bread.  And, afterwards, I’ll still have room for one of those pastries I was dreaming about…

Serves 8, generously


1 15 oz. can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

2 oz. salt pork, bacon or pancetta (optional)

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 cup diced carrot

2 ribs of celery, diced

3 garlic cloves, chopped fine

2 zucchini, diced

1/4 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 pound shredded green cabbage

4 cups spinach, stems discarded

28-ounce can diced tomatoes

8 cups chicken or vegetable broth (preferably homemade)

Rind of parmesan (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

freshly grated Parmesan


In a heavy kettle cook the pork in the oil over moderate heat, stirring, until it is crisp and pale golden, add the onion, and cook the mixture, stirring, until the onion is softened. Add the carrots, the celery, and the garlic and sauté, stirring, for 4 minutes. Add the zucchini, the green beans, and the cabbage and cook the mixture, stirring, until the cabbage is wilted. Add the tomatoes, beans, spinach, broth (and the cheese rind, if using). Simmer the soup, covered, for 1 hour.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

As with most soups, the flavor improves with a little time, so be sure to save some to enjoy the next day for lunch!

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Recently, I served this stew to some friends who were transitioning to a vegan diet. Talk about “a healthy abundance!”  This dish is a delicious, filling and flavorful main course, and no one missed the meat.  One of my guests (Greg, you know who you are) proclaimed it “one of the best things I’ve eaten all year!”

Most of us could benefit from eating less meat, and the planet would be better off, too. Some studies say that, globally, meat production dumps more carbon into the atmosphere than transportation!  Turns out that switching to a vegan diet could do more to reduce your carbon footprint than switching from an SUV to a Prius.  Lucky for us, saving our own health and the health of our planet can be a tasty undertaking.

adapted from Epicurious.com

Serves 6, generously


2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups finely chopped onions

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 1/2 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams; about 2 medium), peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 cups orange juice

2 tablespoons minced garlic

2 15 oz. cans black beans, rinsed, drained

2 poblano chilies, seeded, chopped (Roasted, if you have them)

1 red bell pepper, chopped

2 15 oz. cans diced tomatoes

1/4 cup (or more, if you really like it) fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)


Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add ginger, chili powder and cumin and stir 2 minutes. Add sweet potatoes, orange juice and garlic and bring to boil. (Add water if needed to cover potatoes.)  Reduce heat, cover and simmer until sweet potatoes are almost tender, about 30 minutes.

Stir beans, poblano chilies and bell pepper (and tomatoes, if using)  into sweet potato mixture. Cover and simmer until chilies are tender, about 15 minutes longer. Add cilantro, if using.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over low heat before continuing, stirring occasionally.)

Top with sour cream, diced avocado and orange segments, if desired.  Garnish with more cilantro.

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