Cuisine: Spilling the beans

A new cookbook that will get you excited about trying new recipes.

It’s wonderful to find a cookbook that just makes you want to try cooking new dishes, isn’t it? And, that’s exactly what Spilling the Beans by Julie Van Rosendaal and Sue Duncan did to me.

There were so many recipes I thought looked delicious that I filled an entire sheet of paper with my list of pages with recipes to try: hueveros rancheros, pancakes, lettuce wraps, curried quinoa salad, curried sweet potato soup, couscous with roasted vegetables, wheat thins, chocolate crisps and granola bars—it was an incredible range of dishes that each included one sort of bean or another.

There’s also a wealth of information about how to deal with dried beans and canned ones, and how nutritious beans are.

It’s a fascinating book that’s well-written, with conversational-style comments on the root of the different recipes and about nutrition and how best to handle beans; and where substitutions will work.

While Julie is a well-known cookbook author from Calgary, her best friend Sue now lives at Silver Star, here in the Okanagan Valley. She also blogs about food: foodwhereilive.blogspot.com

They feel so strongly about the importance of including beans in your food every day that they even smush them up and hide them in baked goods like muffins and brownies.

This comprehensive cookbook on beans includes great recipes using everything from little white beans to black-eyed peas and chickpeas; lima, soy, pinto, red kidney and turtle beans, as well as yellow split peas, red lentils, green lentils and mixed beans.

Along with beans, their recipes include such grains and seeds as oats, brown rice and pasta, quinoa, bulgur and barley.

They say beans are low in fat, cholesterol-free, versatile, environmentally-friendly, Canadian-grown and inexpensive, along with being filling and high in nutrition like protein and fibre, B vitamins, iron, niacin and folate. I won’t argue.

While you’re picking this up at your local bookstore, grab a copy of my new book, Jude’s Kitchen, published by the Okanagan Institute.

 

 

Black Bean Brownies

 

 

I haven’t tried these, but I think they’d be excellent, with a punch of unexpected nutrition. Oh, to feel virtuous about eating decadent chocolate brownies!

 

 

1 c. (250 ml) black beans

1 1/4 c. (310 ml) broken pecan pieces

1/2 c. (125 ml) butter

2 oz. (60 g) unsweetened chocolate

1/3 c. (80 ml) flour

pinch of salt

2 eggs

3/4 c. (185 ml) sugar

1 tsp. (5 ml) vanilla

2/3 c. (160 ml) chocolate chips

 

 

Pre-heat oven to 350 F.

Rinse and drain canned black beans and dry well with paper towel, leaving them uncovered on the counter until you need them.

Spread the pecan pieces (optional) on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven until fragrant and slightly browned, about six or seven minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a small pot set over very low heat, melt the butter and unsweetened chocolate, taking care not to let the mixture scorch. Whisk to combine, then remove from the heat and let cool for a few minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour and salt together and set aside.

Place the dried-off beans and cooled chocolate mixture in the bowl of a food processor and process until very smooth, scraping down the bowl once or twice.

Add the eggs, sugar and vanilla and process again until combined.

Scrape the mixture into the flour mixture and fold gently, leaving streaks of flour still visible. Add the pecans and a good quality chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate, and pecans and fold to just combine.

Pour the batter into a lightly buttered eight-inch square pan and smooth the top.

Bake for 28 to 30 minutes. The batter should no longer jiggle when the pan moves. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Cut when they’re cooled and store in the refrigerator if you like a dense texture, or at room temperature if you lilke them softer.

 

 

Baked Penne with Sausage, Spinach & Beans

 

 

This is a nutrient-rich, filling dinner, but it’s also full of flavour. And, it’s an entire meal in one dish. We had extra to freeze for a second meal. This tasty dish was lovely with a full-bodied VQA shiraz or merlot wine, and we really enjoyed the Mt. Boucherie gamay noir with it.

 

 

1 large onion

3-5 garlic cloves

3 fresh Italian sausages

28 oz. (796 ml) can diced tomatoes

2 c. (500 ml) white beans

5.5 oz. (156 ml) can tomato paste

14 c. (60 ml) pesto

salt & pepper, to taste

3 c. dry pasta

10 oz. (300 g) baby spinach

1 1/2 c. (375 ml) mozzarella

1/2-1 c. (125-250 ml) parmesan

 

 

In a large saucepan, heat a drizzle of oil over medium-high heat and cook the chopped onion and minced garlic for a few minutes, until soft.

Squeeze the sausages out of their casings into the pan and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Stir in the pesto and salt and pepper.

Cook the pasta, until al dente, drain it well and toss it with the spinach, mozzarella and about half the parmesan cheese in a large bowl.

Stir into one or more baking dishes or one 9×13-inch pan, and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan.

You may cool it completely, covered and keep it in the fridge overnight, or freeze it for four months.

Bake at 350 F for about 30 minutes until bubbly and golden.

Serves 6.