Savoring Home Grown Heritage Beans

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Blissful Bean Based Dishes

February’s continuing cold is making both gardening and daily walks a lot brisker. Though buds are slowly swelling and a few brave plants are blooming, most are on hold, waiting for warmer weather. Me too, and while I wait, I’m cooking for comfort. Yesterday, the grandkids baked bread, working the dough for about an hour before flattening it and cutting out shapes. The resulting puffy rolls look adorable and taste great, which says a LOT for the resilience of bread dough. We also made sour dough starters which have been bubbling away all night and today the kids will turn their little bowls of starters into real loaves, a process guaranteed to be satisfyingly hands-on and messy.

While their starters started, I soaked home grown dried beans, last summer’s bounty. To reduce their gassiness, I soak each kind in tepid water overnight, then change the water before cooking. Most of my cooking is vegetarian or vegan, so lots of beans, peas, or lentils make their way into my soups and vegetable stews, adding protein as well as satisfying heartiness. There are always a couple of jars of soup in the fridge, making quick meals for me and available for family and friends who drop by for a little rummage through the kitchen. Hot soup is definitely winter comfort food, especially when accompanied by homemade bread, toasted and topped with homemade hummus. If speed is an issue, Curried Garbanzos With Kale never fails to please. When something a bit more solid seems appealing, it’s time for New Boston Baked Beans, a lighter, vegetarian/vegan version with plenty of savor.

Happy Homemade Hummus

When making hummus, it’s important both to add ingredients in the right order and to process them longer than might seem necessary. You don’t need to remove the skins to get creamy texture and top notch flavor, just a little more patience. Smoked paprika is another key; a friend who often smokes meat generously smoked a bunch of my homegrown paprika peppers and the result is fabulous. Once ground, smoked paprika keeps very well and adds more depth and a tantalizing hint of the outdoors to vegetarian dishes. I often grind toasted pumpkin seeds to make a higher protein “tahini”.

Super Smooth Hummus

3 tablespoons tahini or ground pumpkin seeds
1 large organic lemon, juiced, rind grated
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)
1-2 tablespoons avocado oil or fruity olive oil
1-1/2 cups cooked garbanzos, rinsed and drained if canned
1/4-1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

In a food processor, combine tahini and lemon juice and puree until very well blended (about 1 minute). Use a rubber scraper to push material from the side of the bowl back to the bottom and process for another 20-30 seconds. Add garlic and salt and process for another 30-45 seconds. Clean bowl sides again, add oil and 1 cup of garbanzos and process for about a minute. Clean bowl sides again, add remaining garbanzos and puree for another minute or more. Adjust lemon juice and salt to taste, adding water 1 tablespoon at a time to get the density/creaminess you want, then add smoked paprika (start with 1/4 teaspoon) and process for 15-20 seconds. Store in covered glass jar in the fridge for up to a week. Makes about 1-1/2 cups.

Now Add Some Kale

When time is short and hunger is sharp, this quick stir fry makes a deliciously hearty meal in minutes. Try it with white beans, rosemary and a little lemon juice for a change of pace.

Curried Garbanzos With Kale

1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/4 teaspoon cumin and/or fennel seeds
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika or hot pepper flakes
3 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 big bunch kale, cut into thin ribbons (chiffonade)
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1-1/2 cups cooked garbanzos, rinsed and drained if canned

In a wide, shallow pan, combine oil, seeds, spices and garlic over medium high heat until fragrant and golden. Add onion and salt and cook until barely soft (3-4 minutes). Add kale, stir to coat, cover pan and cook until kale is lightly wilted (2-3 minutes). Stir in garbanzos, add 1-2 tablespoons of water, cover pan and heat through. Serves 2-3 as a main dish, 4-6 as a side.

New Boston Baked Beans

Growing up in Massachusetts, we often had baked beans for dinner, served in little glazed pots, with Boston Brown Bread on the side. I loved the beans but hated the globs of gummy fatty pork, so I use smoked paprika (again) for the bacon flavor and fragrance. Here’s my vegetarian/vegan take on classic baked beans. With dry beans, it takes two days because of the soaking but you can always use pre-cooked or canned, drained beans and enjoy baked beans the same day.

Vegan Baked Beans

3 cups dry White Navy or Great Northern beans, soaked overnight
OR 6 cups cooked beans, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon avocado or safflower oil
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup unsulphered molasses
1 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3-4 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon sea salt
2-3 cups vegetable broth or water
1-2 tablespoons maple syrup

If using a crock pot, combine everything but the maple syrup, adding broth or water to cover, and cook on low for 8 hours. Adjust seasoning, adding maple syrup to taste. If using the oven, preheat oven to 250° F. Combine first 8 ingredients in a Dutch oven, add broth or water to cover, cover pan and cook for 6-8 hours. Adjust seasoning, stirring in maple syrup to taste. Serves 4-6.


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One Response to Savoring Home Grown Heritage Beans

  1. Deirdre says:

    Thanks for the tips on the hummus.

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