Tag Archives: black beans

Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Black Beans, Tomatoes, Cumin + Kale

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“Rain split the cherries. Cut your harvest check in half.” 


The line, straight from The Farming Game of my youth goes through my mind as I snap a small handful of cherry tomatoes from the vine in-between rain clouds.

I swear half my childhood was spent staying up into the wee hours of the mornings playing that game with siblings and anyone else who could be coerced to “become a real farmer.” If you’ve never heard or played, the game is a lot like Monopoly, only much more realistic and centered around the topic of all things farming. The largest takeaway, I think, is that crop diversification is key to farming/food growing success.

The same can be said in real life.

 

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Last year we were up to our elbows in zucchini, eating lots and lots of noodles. This year, the squash bugs came out in force and that crop was a major loss past early July, five plus cucumber plants never did make it beyond a few inches growth before they struggled, and the collards set to flowering early. William babied his first crop of corn so much I joked he’d get lucky and they’d all have worms. And then the team effort, me picking out the variety, him doing all the subsequent work and babying, me finishing up by harvesting every last ear at the right time and turning it all into tasty meals, worked out. The corn was the biggest success. And I’ve never been too keen on it, particularly.

The tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants too, blasted by a lot of summer heat, produced in leaps and bounds to the point that we’re almost out of nightshades, earlier by far than most years, and can I even tell you how glad I’m going to be when we pull all the plants out and I forego most tomatoes until next year?!

I’ve a friend who I told recently that I’m the most unattached and hands-off gardener, to which she replied, oh no, you’re not. But she’s wrong. I mostly don’t care about the bugs, often letting them grow in population a little too much, hence the squash bug outbreak that got past the manageable stage. And the amount we’ve been harvesting would be significantly reduced if it weren’t for William needing to detox from office life every evening through summer with his watering and audiobook situation. I left him happily to it and rejoiced in harvesting, planting, occasionally fertilizing and deadheading flowers. Oh and unemotionally yanking out whole plants and insect-infested sections, because as my mother always says, if a plant dies, just replace it with something else.

That’s pretty much my motto too. Along with crop diversity, so I have the luxury of being completely unattached to any one thing.

 

Anyway, enough chattering on. The rain did split my cherry (tomatoes). And in a couple weeks I’ll wipe out that whole section and plant winter cover crop instead. But for now, we’re enjoying the last of that particular summer treat atop oven-roasted sweet potatoes and black beans in this easy weeknight favorite that can be either fancied up or pared down, depending.

What about you? What have you been enjoying in this transitional seasonal?

 

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Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Black Beans, Tomatoes, Cumin + Kale, serves 4
The Recipe Redux September theme is Sheet Pan Meals, with the idea of throwing ingredients together on a sheet pan or baking dish and roasting for a simple dinner to make busy weeknights manageable. I may have cheated a bit since the only roasting that needs to happen here is the sweet potatoes, but this is one of my favorite simple dinners by far, and in a jif–and perhaps if you’re blessedly fresh out of summer tomatoes–if comes together quick with roasted sweet potatoes, canned black beans, a few handfuls of greens, some salsa and seeds. For a nicer, fancier version, take a few minutes more to slice and dice some peppers and tomatoes with toasted cumin and fresh lime juice and make your black beans from scratch. And perhaps enjoy the last couple weeks or two of warmer weather. Enjoy!

4 small sweet potatoes
2 cups cooked black beans
6-8 cups chopped kale
1 lb. cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 large sweet bell or Italian pepper, diced
small handful cilantro or parsley, minced
1 tsp. whole cumin seeds
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive or avocado oil, divided
2 Tbsp. lime juice, divided
a few pinches sea salt
additional lime wedges
pumpkin, sunflower, or hemp seeds

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Wash and dry the sweet potatoes, and then gently poke a few holes in their skins. Set on a piece of foil or in a baking dish and bake in the oven for 45 minutes or until soft when pierced with a fork or knife.
  • In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the cumin seeds until fragrant.
  • Slice the tomatoes in half, dice the pepper and parsley, and combine in a small bowl with the toasted cumin and half of the oil and lime juice. Taste and salt as needed.
  • Finely chop the kale and add to another small bowl. With the remaining oil and lime juice, massage the kale gently to soften.
  • To serve, top each sweet potato with heated black beans, the tomato + cumin salad, kale, and seeds.
  • Finish with additional lime juice as desired.

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Black Bean + Corn Chilaquiles

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I grew up in a town where purchasing tamales from a random kid selling them out of the family car in the Walmart parking lot was a completely normal and legit means of acquiring them. Growing up, there were more Mexican restaurants than I could count, at least two full-size Hispanic grocery stores, multiple panaderías, a carnicería, and many other specialty stores. Suffice it to say, I grew up eating a lot of amazing Mexican food and it’s this type of food that I associate with home.

My favorite place to eat when back for a visit is at the taco wagon. There are actually several, but there is one that everyone knows about when a trip to the taco-wagon is mentioned. It is a slightly sketchy-looking truck that sells the exact same thing at the same price as what I began purchasing 10+ years ago in high school. It’s a place where there’s always a wait, and all the locals can be found, from the hispanics to the farmers to the visitors back in town for a couple days to the locals that never left.

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Tacos are our ultimate fall-back food for busy days and we eat them in all sorts of variations. I won’t even attempt to make a taco that tries to compete with a taco-wagon taco, however, and all the thrown together versions we eat are hardly worthy of a recipe. So when The Recipe Redux challenged us to take a good look into the freezer, cupboards, and pantry and find an ingredient or two that had been forgotten for this month’s challenge, I took a good look at all the ingredients that needed to be used, naturally skipped over the fish sauce and wasabi, and gravitated right towards the makings for Mexican-food.

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William bought me a giant bag of tortilla chips last summer when I was running a lot and craving salt. They’ve been hanging around the back of the pantry since then because I forgot about them when the weather turned last fall and I never got back to them. They’ve since turned slightly stale.

They were perfectly in need for being made into a dish I’ve been meaning to make for months, Chilaquiles. Oddly enough, I did not grow up eating Chilaquiles. It wasn’t until a couple years ago that I had even heard of them. Basically, they are a way to use up stale corn tortillas and are cooked in a sauce with meats or vegetables, or scrambled with eggs. Most variations contain eggs, cheese, and/or chicken. I decided to forego all of those ingredients because I wanted a super tasty meal that can be made with only a few pantry staples, quickly.

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This variation fits the bill because it contains several ingredients already on hand: frozen corn, diced tomatoes, tortilla chips, black beans, and a dried poblano pepper.

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Black Bean + Corn Chilaquiles, serves 4-5

These can be made even easier by using canned black beans and enchilada sauce, but you will compromise flavor. I tend to make big batches of black beans using this simple recipe. I tossed the poblano pepper into the pot, adding even more rich undertones, and slow-cooked it for the better part of a day. It sounds slightly time-consuming but we eat them for multiple meals quite often because they’re super good! 

1 medium onion, diced

1 bunch of kale, stems removed and chopped

2+ cups tortilla chips

2 cups cooked black beans

2 cups frozen corn

1 batch of spicy tomato sauce, below

cilantro, to serve

lime wedges, to serve

salsa, to serve

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • In a medium sauté pan, cook onion until slightly soft, about 5-8 minutes. Toss in the kale and cook just until it wilts. Remove from heat.
  • In a large mixing bowl, toss together the chips, beans, corn, sauce, and cooked onion and kale. Use your hands and mix gently so as not to break the chips too much.
  • Turn the whole lot into a medium-sized baking dish.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the mixture is heated through and simmering.
  • Remove from the oven and serve with cilantro, lime wedges, and salsa.

Spicy Tomato Sauce

1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes

2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbs. chili powder

1 tsp. garlic salt

1/4 tsp. onion powder

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

1/4 tsp. dried oregano

1/4 tsp. dried coriander

1/2 tsp. paprika

1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. black pepper

  • In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil and garlic over medium-high heat. Saute garlic until just beginning to brown, about 30 seconds.
  • Stir in the tomatoes and spices.
  • Bring to a boil and then turn down to medium-low. Simmer for about 45 minutes to thicken a bit and have flavors develop. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. At this point, the sauce can be pureed if you’d like a smooth sauce, but I opted to leave it slightly chunky.


Black Beans, the Last Tomatoes–And Moving On

 
 
 
 
                                                              When to the heart of man
                                                                     Was it ever less than a treason
                                                              To go with the drift of things, 
                                                                      To yield with a grace to reason, 
                                                              And bow and accept the end
                                                                      Of a love or a season?
                                                                                        -Robert Frost
 
 
 
 
 We knew the end was coming.  It’s been a while now and we’ve reluctantly given in.  It is time to move on.  Just like summer has finally given way to beautiful, glorious, crisp and radiant fall, it is time to move on from Corvallis, my favorite little (American)  city.  And while I may still work here, the living part will be sorely missed.  I think about all we’re giving up–the ease, comfort and sense of belonging to this place.  But we are also gaining wonderful things by leaving.  A lovely cottage in the country.  A little less worry off our shoulders.  A sense of beginning too.

This is how I’ve felt about the last wisps of summer that were thrown at our door.  The 20 pounds of late season tomatoes given before we’d have no more for many months.  The pots of tomato sauce.  W’s grandma’s spaghetti sauce.  Bruchetta on homemade bread gone wrong but still deliciously perfect.  Savory tomato herb crepes.  And Indian stew, the recipe gleaned from my favorite restaurant.

Because the scurry of using the last of summer’s bounty is fully upon us, and it truly is turning to the loveliest of seasons–crisp and blistery and beautifully gray–I thought I would share a dish we can’t get enough of right now–black beans and lovely salsa.  This one is simple and warming, so come in and enjoy after a long day outside.  You won’t be sorry you tried the deep complexity of flavors wafting from such a simple pot.

Creamy Black Beans, adapted from Martha Stewart
4 cups water, plus more if needed
1/2 lb. (8 oz.) dried black beans, picked over, rinsed, and drained
1/2 a jalapeño chile, halved and seeded
1 medium onion, quartered
2 1/2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
 
1. Rinse beans and let soak for at least eight hours.
2. Bring water, beans, jalapeño, onions, garlic, vinegar, 1/2 tablespoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper to a simmer in a medium saucepan.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender, creamy and falling apart.  The onion and chile pepper should be broken down and indistinguishable at this point.  Add water as needed throughout the cooking process.  We like our beans to be REALLY creamy; this takes between 4-6 hours.  Season with salt and pepper.
 
Fresh Tomato Salsa, adapted from The Best Light Recipe
1 1/2 pounds ripe garden tomatoes, diced
1/2 a jalapeño chile, seeded and diced
1/2 cup minced onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro leaves.
1/2 tsp. salt
Pinch ground black pepper
Juice from 1/2 a lime
 
1. Place diced tomatoes in a mesh sieve over a large bowl.  Set aside and drain for 30 minutes.  As the tomatoes drain, add the jalapeño, onion, garlic, and cilantro.  Shake the sieve to drain off the excess tomato juice; discard juice.
2. Add more jalapeño seeds and ribs to taste. I like mine a touch between mild and medium.
3. Transfer the drained tomatoes and vegetables to a blender.  Blend for a few seconds until it reaches your desired consistency.  
4. Transfer back to the mesh sieve and drain mixture again.  Now put salsa in a serving dish, add salt and pepper, and lime juice.  Serve with black beans, tortilla chips, brown rice, more cilantro and lime if desired, and tortillas. 
 
 

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