I love beans because they taste good, have an excellent texture and are versatile. I have learned to love beans also because they are rich in Protein, Fiber, Essential minerals, B vitamins and Folic acid. And I love beans because they are low in fat and good for cholesterol ( which happens to be a big issue in my family!).
Due to my exxesive love of beans I often begin with beans when planning my meals. This week I bought a bag of dried organic black beans and thought Hmmmmmmmmm wherever will these little tiny flavor pockets take me this week? True to form (and inspired by my very good friend Lilian Galante) They took me to Mexico.
Last Year I ventured down to Mexico to celebrate in the wedding of my friend Lilian and her lovely partner Pape. While I was down there I joined 50 of my new Mexican best friends and enjoyed three breathtaking days on the Pacific Ocean. As usual, I was very excited about the food we were eating. For the first time in my life I didn't feel a hint of guilt snacking on the Avocados that only ventured a small distance to the beach property we were camping on. Lilian and Pape hired some lovely local women from the nearest village (a 20 minute walk away) so come and cook the meals for us. These meals were very much centered on BEANS (i was thrilled!). So long story short here is a meal that was inspired by this journey and by beans...i suppose you can call it a partnership between Mexico and Beans. Yes..
Black Beans1. Soak 3 cups of black beans for 2-4 hours
2. Drain and rinse beans taking out anything out of the ordinary (rocks? weird looking bean?)
3. Put in a pot with 6-8 cups of water and bring to a boil. Once you have reached boil bring the heat down to simmer.
4. Allow to simmer for 1 hr or until tender...you don't want the beans to get too mushy so keep an eye around the 60 minute mark and take a few test bites!
Rice1. Sautee Onion and garlic for several minutes.
2. Add Rice and coat with the mixture, when heated through add the needed amount of water for your rice variety
3. Follow the directions on your rice package as far as proportions of water to rice and to timing ( I used Brown rice which took about 45 minutes and was 1:2::rice:water
4. While bringing rice to a boil add 1-tbsp of chili powder (depending on how spicy it is and how spicy you like it), 2 tsp of salt, 1 tblsp of Paprika, 1 tbspn of cumin, 1-2 tblspn of cayenne pepper. Allow the rice to cook regularly with these spices added.
5. Once the rice is cooked add those beans! along with another batch of spices (this varies depending on how spicy you like your food...for me I didn't add too much more cayenne pepper, but I did add several teaspoons each of coriander, paprika, salt and chili powder).
6. Add chopped coriander along with half a can of whole tomatoes.
7. Turn up the heat and bring to a small boil so that all of these tasty things can mix together.
8. Turn heat off and mix well.
When cooking for myself this dish would be plenty for a meal but I was lucky enough to have three hungry guests over so we added several other things to our menu.
- 3 tomatoes
- 1 red pepper
- 1 green chili (for mild spice...add more for spicier foods!)
- 1 onion
- 1/2 lime
- 4-8 tbspn of fresh cilantro
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- salt and pepper to taste
Directions:1. Chop everything and Put it in a bowl!
2. Mix it together
3. Eat it!
The thing about Salsa...is that it shouldn't be an intimidating thing to make. You really only need several basic ingredients, some way to flavor it (either with fresh cilantro and chilis or with dried spices..whatever you have available) Tracy is pictured on the Right Showing us the most important step...how to Eat the Salsa!
Our last component of our Mexican Inspired Fiesta was some crumbled up tofu sauteed with mushrooms onions and garlic (oh my!)
BBQ Tofu Crumble
Ingredients:- 3 cups of mushrooms
- 1 Block of Tofu (nice and locally produces from Essence of Life Organics!)
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 onion
- 2 tsp Paprika
- 1 tblspn Cumin seeds
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tsp cayenne
Directions:1. Saute Onions and garlic for 2 minutes.
2. Add Chopped mushrooms and cook for another 2 minutes.
3. Crumble in tofu so that it is a "ground beef like consistency"
4. Season and allow all things to cook through. The tofu will be done when it has shrunk has dried out a bit.
We made little fajitas with Corn Tortillas like the ones I encountered while eating in Mexico. Added some chopped avocado, cheese and lemon to turn into one heck of a filling meal.