Category Archives: beans

Black Bean Burgers

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Woohoo! Sunshine!

You could be out grilling in this weather. But, if you don’t feel like it quite yet (it is a little windy out there), this is a sunny meal that feels like summer whenever/wherever/in whatever weather it is consumed. I admit that it does not contain all local ingredients, but there is nothing like an avocado anywhere (even though I feel extra guilty because apparently they take a lot of water to grow, and in California no less. Ugh). If you feel particularly concerned you can skip the avocado.

Fortunately, we are so lucky as to be able to access local salsa (made from hydroponic Maine-grown tomatoes) and salad mix (greenhouses!). If you froze corn from the cob this summer (do it this year if you didn’t, it’s amazing), you’re set on that front, and should be able to get red onions still too (or find them sprouting in the corner). Plus, you can get whole wheat flour locally to make the buns. And local beans too! All in all, not bad.

Unrelatedly, here’s a funny sheep video, sheparded by a drone! What will they think of next?

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Burgers often require breadcrumbs, which are particularly necessary for the structural integrity of black bean burgers. I’ve always made my own breadcrumbs: toast bread (a lot, you want it super dry) and put it in the food processor until crumby. This sometimes takes me a while, I think because it’s not dry enough. The recipe I adapted (from Spoon Fork Bacon) also added oatmeal, which I like for a little extra texture (and fiber).

This also takes a little planning, since you have to cook the beans first (if you’re like me), and the batter (?) needs to chill for a few hours before you cook it. Something to keep in mind.

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Black bean burgers
1/2 onion
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
3 cloves garlic
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans, drained (or 1 can)
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup frozen yellow corn (optional; hopefully from an local ear!)
1 green onion, if you have it 
2 teaspoons cumin
Cayenne
1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs (make your own—see above)
1 egg
Salt and pepper
Oil for cooking (3-4 tablespoons)

Burger buns! (I used King Arthur's recipe with a little whole wheat, delicious!)
Condiments! 
Chipotle mayo: mix mayo with chipotle, and let sit for a little while
Cheese (cheddar)
Tomatoes
Avocado
More corn
Sliced onions
Lettuce/salad mix
Salsa! (necessary)
Hot sauce (optional)

Get out your food processor! I had to do this in batches with my mini one. Throw in the onion, jalapeno, and garlic, and pulse a bit. Add 1/2 the beans and everything else (except the oil) and pulse. Taste and adjust, scrape down, and pulse again—it should be a little chunky but come together. Add the rest of the beans and pulse once or twice, just to integrate them. Put in a bowl, cover, and chill for a few hours.

Remove from fridge. Heat oil in a heavy skillet, and turn to medium heat. Form the mixture into patties (size is up to you, and the burger buns). Cook (this is the tricky part) for at least 6 minutes on each side, probably longer (this feels like a super long time, and it is. Length of cooking time is the only way to make it hold together). Flip carefully. Each side should develop a crust and get heated through—adjust the heat as necessary if you feel like they are burning before getting cooked (turn down), or aren’t getting a crust (turn up).

Assemble burgers on buns with all the condiments (put cheese on right away or even in the pan if you want it to melt a little). Have fun.

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Goes well with beer, but what about afterward? How about pear brandy, with the pear grown in the bottle? Sweet, non? 

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Bean Squash Kale Chili

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Sometimes you need a good, hearty chili, heavy on the beans. To mix it up from classic tomato-based chili, add squash and kale, and extra garlic (we all know by now that squash and kale go super well together. I put them on pizza, flatbread, in pasta, and evidently in chili). Great with a nice chunk of cornbread on the side (hopefully made with local cornmeal).

I admittedly made this a few months ago when I had a few more fresh vegetables. But still manageable now, if you’ve got kale left, or soon when the farms have it again (the trouble with growing vegetables this time of year is the light, or lack thereof).

Basis for the recipe from Goop (the link keeps changing for some reason so if it doesn’t work and you’re dying to look at it, google “black bean squash chili goop”).

Bean squash chili
1 cup dry beans (any kind you want—black is more traditional, but I used Jacob's cattle beans because I love them and it's what I had)
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
A few diced tomatoes, or 1 small can
Other veggies (like sweet peppers), if you have them
Olive oil
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 hot peppers (chipotle would be best, although not what I had), roughly chopped
1/2 of a small butternut squash
3-4 large leaves of kale, washed and chopped
salt + pepper

Soak the beans overnight, or the morning before cooking them. I also roasted the squash a little bit first—it gives it more flavor, and makes it easier to chop up; but this is pretty flexible. You can either roast it in halves first, until pretty soft, and then scoop out and chop up and add it at the end; peel and chop before roasting (good for flavor but kind of a huge pain) and add at the end (or don’t even roast, and just boil with the beans); or a mix—roast it part way, enough to make it easier to peel, and then either roast the rest of the way or throw in the chili earlier. I did the last, which seemed easiest.

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Chop or mince all the veggies. Heat up your pan with the spices (not salt) and toast them for 30-ish seconds until fragrant (this is the secret to getting the most out of your spices). Then add the oil and sauté for a few minutes, until the veggies are getting soft. Add the beans, and stock (or water), and cook for a while, until beans are starting to get soft. Depending on how much you are pre-cooking the squash, add them at some point (the squash takes about as long to cook as the beans). When both beans and squash are mixed together and basically cooked, add the salt, pepper, and chopped kale pieces. Cook the chili with the kale for a few minutes (it will soften up), taste and adjust seasonings, then serve.

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If you have cilantro, sour cream, or a little cheese, little garnishes are an excellent supplement to any chili. Enjoy!

Winter Staples: Beans and Slaw

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Let me tell you a little bit about winter in Maine. It’s quite chilly. And there can be a lot of snow. (You may have noticed if you live here). Turns out that you can’t grow a whole lot outside in that weather.

Fortunately, you don’t need to. Eliot Coleman, the father of four-season farming in Maine (inspired by Helen and Scott Nearing), has shown us that even unheated hoophouses can supply significant quantities of vegetables throughout the winter. To grow salad mix, you’ll probably need a little heat. But hardier crops? Take that, winter, beaten by a plastic roof.

There are also many vegetables that you can harvest in the fall and store throughout the winter in a root cellar or just a cool spot in your house. I have a large amount of carrots, beets, cabbage, leeks, onions, garlic, turnips, rutabagas, and potatoes either in a box by the door (I figure it’s the coldest spot in my house) or in the fridge. Not too much of your traditional greenery in there (although kale was going strong for a while and I expect to see it again soon) but it turns out that you can still make salads, as well as a number of other vegetable-based delicacies in the winter.

Cole slaw is definitely a type of salad, in case you were wondering.

Throw it in with some beans, maybe a little melted cheese and some spices, and you’ve a meal. This amuses me a little bit because I generally think of beans (baked, I guess) and cole slaw as a Southern dish. Yet here we are, a staple of the Maine winter.

I’ve told you how to make beans before so I won’t get into that.

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Winter Slaw
Carrots (1 large one is good for one person)
Beets (1 small one is also good)
1/4-1/2 cabbage, depending on size
A few teaspoons of your favorite vinegar
1/2 tsp mustard
A few (more than the vinegar though) teaspoons olive oil
Salt, pepper, and spices: to go with beans I like cumin, paprika, maybe a little cayenne

Grate the carrots, beets if you are using them, and chop up the cabbage (core, then slice one direction and the other. Cabbage is delightful because you can chop a lot of it in a very short timeframe). In a large bowl, mix together the vinegar and mustard, and salt and pepper. When mustard is more or less dissolved, whisk in the oil. Taste and adjust seasonings. I like slaw dressing to be a little stronger than other salad dressings, especially if it’s going to sit for a little while. Stir in the vegetables and mix well. Let sit for a few minutes before consuming.

Cumin Bean Salad

This recipe is from the New Basics Cookbook, which is one of the best cookbooks ever. I haven’t ever made something I don’t like from there. Unfortunately I brought my bean salad to a potluck and forgot to take a picture. Travesty! I’ll make my post short due to lack of imagery, and see if I can add one later.

The dressing is excellent and good on green salads and other dishes as well.

Cumin vinaigrette
¼ cup cider vinegar
½ Tbsp Dijon
¾ tsp cumin
½ tsp minced garlic
Salt and pepper
¾ cups olive oil

Bean salad
1 red onion (or normal onion if you don't have a red one)
A few cloves of garlic
2 cups cooked mixed beans (or 1 can black beans and 1 can white beans)
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2-3 ears corn, husked and de-corned (yes, raw corn is fine and delicious, if you get the right kind!), or 1 cup frozen corn kernels
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
Other veggies: cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, more peppers...

If you don’t like much onion, heat it in oil in the microwave for a short time before mixing it in with everything else. Stir together the dressing ingredients, then add the onion and beans. Marinate for as long as you want/have time for. Before serving, add the pepper, corn, other veggies, and cilantro and toss together.

This keeps pretty well for a while—I had lots extra and brought for office lunch with a few pieces of good bread. You can also keep adding more veggies as the days roll by to make it more into a normal salad.

Falafel

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I have no idea why I’ve never made falafel from scratch before. It is SO DELICIOUS. And somehow very exciting. New. Fresh. Crispy. Crunchy. Nom. Falafel is interesting because unlike most bean/legume dishes, you don’t cook the beans (chick peas in this case) before incorporating them. Instead, you soak them until soft enough to grind up. Do so, mix with some herbs, spices, and lemon juice, and fry as little patties, or balls if you have enough oil.

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This isn’t necessarily something I’d recommend doing for just yourself. But it’s a great dish for company, and actually works okay for one person if you refrigerate everything partway through for Day 2 of falafel.

This recipe is from Mark Bittman, who I’ve mentioned is amazing.

Falafel
1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas
3 cloves of garlic (or to taste)
1 cup fresh parsley
1 small onion (I didn't have one but it would be good)
1 tsp ground coriander
1 Tbsp ground cumin
Salt and pepper
1/2 tsp baking soda (although I am curious as to how this changes it)
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Oil for frying

Let the chickpeas soak for at least 12 hours (I put mine to soak in the morning, but overnight would work too) in quite a lot of water—they will expand. Once soft enough, put most of them in a blender until minced nice and small.  Add the rest, along with all the other ingredients, and blend until fairly smooth but still minced rather than puréed. Taste and season, and add a tiny bit of water if it doesn’t stick together at all (go easy on the water).

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Meanwhile, heat up your oil—I only used maybe half an inch but more better if you have it—until quite hot. Spoon out the batter and kind of mesh it into the spoon before placing it into the pan. You may have to edge some escaped crumbs back into the patty. Cook until brown on one side, them carefully flip over and brown on the other side. They should be quite crispy. Remove from pan and place on some paper towels on a plate. Repeat with the rest of the batter (you can also refrigerate the batter if you don’t want to eat it all at once—much better that than eating leftover cooked falafel).

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Now, for the veggies (you may also want to prep these earlier, to eat the falafel hot). I like tomatoes, carrots, and cucumbers but you can add whatever you want. Radishes would be a good addition, or celery. Chop up until small.

Yogurt Dressing
Olive oil
Garlic, minced to your liking
Yogurt
Lemon juice
Tahini (optional)

Heat up the garlic in oil in the microwave for about 10 seconds. Mix in yogurt, lemon juice, and tahini and stir until blended together (there will be chunks of garlic still). This is also good on other things, like lamb meatballs (maybe add a little mint).

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Pita is traditional for falafel. I didn’t have any, but I was making bread that day so I flattened a bit of the dough and it sort of turned into mini-pitas, which worked pretty well. Stuff everything into the pita and enjoy. I sometimes like mixing it all together with the sauce first (or at least the veggies) to get the proper sauce-to-filling ratio.

Yum.

Zucchini Fritters with Beans

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Okay, so I actually used summer squash. I pretty much interchange them, although they are not the same.

These were good but I have a feeling they needed just a little something else. A drizzle of chili sauce, maybe. Or some other form of condiment. Or maybe a little kick in the batter. The problem must be that I didn’t totally follow the recipe, which called for a chili in it, because I didn’t have a chili. Oh well.

I’ll give you a few recipe ideas, since I have not yet perfected it: the ones I made were from Rancho Gordo, and I imagine they will be better later in the season when I get some peppers. However, I also (the next day, of course) came across this recipe from Saveur, which also looks excellent. Let me know what you come up with in the comments!

The basic of vegetable fritters/pancakes/whatever is grated vegetable that is strained, mixed with a few things, and fried/griddled. Same basic idea for latkes. Fresh corn cakes you don’t have to strain.

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Once fried, I topped them with local Jacob’s Cattle beans I had made the night before and some veggies. I love beans. I probably have told you that already. They are delicious and earthy. And Jacob’s Cattle beans are so pretty (granted, they are less so when cooked. But more delicious).

Dried beans are much tastier than canned beans, and feel more like a dish in themselves than an ingredient. Dry beans are also very cheap, so make for good budget food. If you like, you can make a big batch and them freeze them so you have them on hand for quick meals.

I like soaking my beans, although I’ve cooked them successfully unsoaked before, so if you are unprepared, you can still enjoy them. Keep in mind that they do take a while to cook though, and cooking time can be a little unpredictable (depends on elevation, the season, the weather, your mood…).

Basic Beans
Beans
Water
Seasoning (cumin is great, whatever you like)
Salt (wait!)

Put the beans in a large-ish pot (at least twice the size of the amount of beans you are cooking) and cover with at least an inch of water. Let soak for 12 hours or overnight.

Keep the soaking water! It will make them juicier and more delicious. Add a little extra water if they have soaked everything up, and spices if you like (these can also be added partway through the cooking process). Bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer (you should have a nice burbly sound happening) for about an hour. When they are getting tender, THEN you can add the salt (otherwise they won’t cook. I’ve never actually done that, but everyone says). Cook a little more until nice and soft (there still should be some thick juices in the bottom, don’t let it go dry. If you have to add water I like adding boiling water. You can also add stock if you like, or even cook them with some bones or bits of meat to make them a little richer).

Top with whatever you like, and enjoy! I had the fritters, beans, tomato, parsley, tomatoes, and some slivered cheese. I look forward to doing them again with a little corn on top, or maybe a cilantro sauce.

Bean Tostadas + Salad

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Sometimes one is not in the mood for something fancy. Sometimes you come home, maybe go for a run, and cannot be bothered to come up with a complicated recipe. And/or are limited by ingredients in your fridge.

A quesadilla is a good solution to this predicament. However, if you are like me, you also have a bunch of vegetables in your fridge from your CSA (a one-person CSA means you can’t skip veggies with dinner or they will take over your kitchen) and maybe even some beans that were cooked for something else (in this case, these were made for chili for an event and not used up). In which case, make it a tostada. Which is basically an open-face quesadilla with a bunch of stuff piled on top. Or large crispy taco.

This tortilla is not particularly special, although I did enjoy it. But you can get really excellent Maine-made tortillas from Portland-based Tortillería Pachanga.

This takes about 15 minutes to make. Including prep, which most cooking shows do not include in their estimated making time.

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Tostadas
Tortilla (or plural, depending on how hungry you are)
Cheddar-like cheese, grated
Beans (either pre-cooked (recommended), or from a can)
Cabbage or lettuce (I used Napa cabbage chopped thin)
Tomatoes
Cilantro
Radishes
Hot sauce/salsa
Avocados, if you have them (I didn't)

Start the tortilla by itself in a hot pan, then flip it over and put the cheese on top. I then put some beans on, but they were a little too liquidy and ended up making the bottom scorch so… don’t do that. I recommend warming up the beans separately. Or just don’t put the juice on your tortilla as well. Let it warm up relatively slowly while you prep the other ingredients. Chop up the cabbage or lettuce, tomatoes, and slice the radishes thinly. Once the cheese is all melty on the tortilla and it’s all warm and toasty, put it on a plate and pile on all the veggies. Top with salsa/hot sauce (this is essential, don’t skip the hot stuff). Eat.

You can do this with whatever. I definitely liked the cilantro and tomatoes (which will be better when they are in season, although Backyard farms does have pretty good hot-house tomatoes). I’m looking forward to having fresh corn to put on these. You can sauté some greens in some garlic first, and then top with that (there’s a great food truck in Belfast, Maine, Good ‘N’ You, which does this).

The only problem here was that I ended up with a bunch of extra chopped veggies. I had used up the last tortilla, so I decided to make the rest of my ingredients into a salad. Which was just all the veggies piled together and topped with balsamic reduction and hot sauce. And some shaved parmesan because it needed something creamy-ish. I’m going to be honest, I liked the salad better than the actual tostada. Maybe it was the vinegar, which you could definitely add to the tostada as well…

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I’m getting better at taking photos, aren’t I? And in case you were wondering, I do keep butter in a shot glass on the table. It’s actually a measuring glass. Not that I’m measuring the butter in it. But I don’t use up much butter on my own so I figured leaving out just a small container would do nicely (I hate buttering toast with cold butter. And toast is the best).