Category Archives: Beans

Bacony Lentils with Adobo Sour Cream

This recipe would make a nice alternative to sugary baked beans at your next cookout.

These lentils are flavored with thick, smoked bacon, onion, garlic, celery, and carrot for a hearty main or side dish. Lentils are great when you want beans, but don’t want to spend all day cooking them, although I don’t really mind it since I’m home all day.

Bacony Lentils with Adobo Sour Cream

  • Servings: 6-8 as side
  • Difficulty: easy
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4 slices thick smoked bacon, diced

1 small onion, diced (about 1 cup)

1 stalk celery, diced (about 1/2 cup)

2 small carrots, diced (about 1/2 cup)

2 cloves garlic, minced or grated

2 bay leaves

1 lb dried lentils

4 cups chicken stock, packaged or homemade

  1. Brown diced bacon over medium heat in a 3 qt saucepan until crisp and much of the fat has rendered.
  2. Add the onion, celery, carrots, garlic and cook in the bacon fat until softened, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the bay leaves and lentils, stirring to combine.
  4. Add the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer, cover, and simmer until done, about 40 minutes.

Sour cream with adobo:

1 cup sour cream

2 teaspoons dried chives

1 teaspoon dried dill weed

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon adobo sauce from canned chipotle peppers in adobo

Optional: 1 chipotle pepper from can, chopped (that would be really hot)

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate until ready to eat. Serve as accompaniment to lentils.

White Bean Chicken Stew with Baby Spinach

This is one of my go-to chicken dishes, using poached, pulled chicken. I cook the white beans from dried beans, but you could use canned beans, as well. The dish seems both homey and special, something you could be proud to serve for company with some crusty bread and a salad, but also an everyday meal just for the family. Just don’t tell my husband that I categorized the recipe as soup, because he insists soup is not a meal. You’ll notice that I call it a stew in the title, to which he would not object. Semantics.

I gave the poached chicken breast recipe way back in November and that’s exactly how I prepared the chicken here. I used the poaching broth—which does not have a strong chicken flavor because of the short cooking time—to cook the beans during their second hour, but I boosted the flavor with some Better Than Bouillon® chicken base. An alternative would be to make your own chicken stock with a whole chicken and pull off the meat for the stew, but I find that those chickens have given up too much of their flavor to the stock. Cooking the beans in the same pot in which you are making the stock would make it a real stew, which to me means that all ingredients are cooked together, stewing. It’s a toss up as to the best way to put these ingredients together, but this method using the versatile poached breasts is one of our standard meals once every month or two.


White Bean Chicken Stew with Baby Spinach

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: a little time-consuming
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In any order, prepare the chicken and beans, then combine with spinach or arugula for a short simmer.

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, poached with garlic, peppercorns, bay leaf, and salt, then shredded. Save the poaching broth.

Recipe for Poached Chicken Breasts:

1 1/4 lb great northern beans

water or chicken stock or some kind of flavorful chicken base product

about 3 cups baby spinach or arugula, roughly chopped (or not)

  1. I usually start the beans first, because the quick-soak method takes two hours:
    1. Bring the beans to a boil in 3 cups water and boil for 1 minute. cover and turn off the heat, letting them soak for 1 hour.
    2. Return the beans to a second boil—at this point, I like to drain off the water and replace it with chicken stock or the poaching liquid fortified with Better Then Bouillon®—then reduce to a simmer, covered, for another hour.
    3. The beans can continue to cook in your recipe, even a recipe that goes into the oven. Beans stand up to a lot of cooking.
  2. Add the greens to the beans and simmer until wilted, then add the shredded chicken, cover and simmer for another 15-30 minutes. Two chicken breasts makes a lot of shredded chicken!

This is a simple dish, but it seems special, even though we have it all the time.

Chickpea, Bacon, Zucchini Salad

This is one of those posts that’s almost more about what we don’t like. We don’t like lettuce is number one. He doesn’t like cucumbers, and almost as much tomatoes and mushrooms. I don’t like sour, vinegary salad dressings, nor sugary sweet ones. So, you can see how salads can be a problem, but we are happy to eat a bowl of raw vegetables, minus the list above for him. Tonight is a frozen pizza night, frozen because I am less likely to eat much of it, since the frozen ones are not that great. By itself, the frozen pizza is not much of a meal, so some kind of salad helps it along. This salad is almost a meal in itself and easy for you to customize for your own purposes. I made a simple buttermilk dressing with no added sugar and a lot of garlic to dress it, with enough left over for dipping some chicken strips tomorrow.

I quick-sautéed the chick peas and zucchini in olive oil, but it could all be raw, except the bacon. It just depends on whether you want crunch. You might notice there are no juicy items in the title, and that’s where the options come in. For me, I found a couple of heirloom tomatoes, and for my husband, there are black plums—fruit makes a nice substitute for tomatoes in a salad. The last time I bought black plums, last summer, they were recalled after I had already fed them to  everybody. No one got sick, but it made me reluctant to buy them again, until today. It’s too bad that food can be risky, but nothing grows in our garden in the winter under 20″ of snow, so you have to risk what’s in the produce department. The plums seem okay for this time of year, a little juicy, if not as ripe as in the summer.

Chickpea, Bacon, Zucchini Salad

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Buttermilk Dressing

1 cup Hellmann’s® mayonnaise or any real mayo

1 cup sour cream

1/2-3/4 cup buttermilk, low fat or whole milk

2 cloves garlic, grated

2 teaspoons dried chives or up to 1/4 cup fresh (I love dried chives)

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Whisk all ingredients together, adding buttermilk to achieve desired thickness. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.

Salad preparation:

6-8 strips of bacon

2  15 oz cans chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and dried

about 2 cups diced zucchini

olive oil for frying

Optional fruits: plums, tomatoes, oranges, kiwi, pineapple, avocado—whatever fruits are available or seem to go well with the other ingredients. Roasted red peppers would be good in place of a fruit.

  1. Place bacon strips on baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes at 350° or until they reach your desired crispness. I have the best luck when I do not wait for the oven to preheat.
  2. While the bacon cooks, sauté the chickpeas and zucchini in olive oil over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon to serving bowl.
  3. Chop the cooked, drained bacon and add to the vegetables.
  4. Serve the salad at room temperature with the fruit options and dressing.

Country Style Ribs and Black Beans

Some of my favorite bean recipes come from Annie Somerville’s Fields of Greens: New Vegetarian Recipes from the Celebrated Greens Restaurant. (New York: Bantam, 1993). Today’s dinner is inspired by her “Warm Black Beans with Chilies and Cilantro” (p. 271), which first got me hooked on how much the addition of citrus and vinegar complement black beans. I don’t care for cilantro and am neither going to use peppers that are too hot, today, but a variation of this recipe will be combined with some slow-roasted pork ribs for one of those one-dish meals perfect for a Friday night.

The other influence today is Gordon’s Grub Rub®, a rub we came to like when we lived in Arkansas and Texas. It’s a tenderizer, as well as a flavoring, so when you want that feature, it’s a good product. We order it online, now, and while I wish they had a snazzier web site, it works.

Add a bottle of beer to the roasting pan and what could go wrong?

Country Style Pork Ribs and Black Beans

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy, but time consuming
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For ribs:

Preheat oven to 325°

3 lbs country style pork ribs, boneless or bone-in

1 cup Gordon’s Grub Rub® or your favorite meat rub

2 large onions, sliced 1/2″ thick and separated

1 12 oz bottle beer

  1. Line the bottom of a roasting pan with 1/2″ sliced onions.
  2. Shake the ribs and rub in a large plastic bag until well coated. It really does stick to the meat, as they say.
  3. Place the ribs in a layer on top of the onions and pour the beer in the bottom of the pan.
  4. Roast for about 3 hours. They should be fall apart tender and the onions and beer and rub should have caramelized into a sticky deliciousness. My intent is to pull the ribs into big chunks to add to bowls of the black beans, but really they will fall apart on their own.

For the beans:

1 lb dried black beans, rinsed and sorted

6 cups water

1 onion, diced

2 tablespoons chopped garlic—I had about 5 small cloves

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

salt to taste

1 cup ancho chile puree (see below), using 2 small dried ancho peppers and 1 cup of water

splash of rice vinegar, about 1 tablespoon

  1. Place beans in large saucepan with water. Bring to boil and boil 2 minutes, then turn off heat. Cover pan and soak for 1 hour.
  2. Return to boil, and then simmer, covered, for 1 hour.
  3. You can adjust the amount of liquid in the beans by cooking uncovered at a low heat (higher than a simmer) for the second hour. You can also thicken the beans by mashing some of them.
  4. While the beans are cooking, make the chile mixture:
    1. Sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil until tender.
    2. Add the cumin, oregano, and salt, stirring.
    3. Stir in the chile puree and vinegar. simmer for about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the chile mixture to the beans and continue to simmer for about 30 minutes.

Serve the beans with chunks of the cooked ribs and a big dollop of sour cream. You can top with some shredded Monterrey Jack cheese and salsa, too.

Ancho chile puree:

  1. Rinse dried chiles and remove stems and seeds
  2. Tear into pieces so they fit in a small container or bowl
  3. Cover with boiling water; cover container with plastic wrap
  4. Set aside for about 45 minutes
  5. Place reconstituted chiles in blender with part of the liquid, adding more as needed to make a purée about the consistency of tomato juice
  6. Strain puree through a fine strainer to remove remaining pieces of pepper skins