Stove-Top Baked Beans

The other night I made these baked beans for supper accompanied by a mixed green salad and biscuits. It was delicious, nourishing, and filling. I usually think of baked beans as a side dish, but we love this recipe so much that it’s our main course (since I first made this a couple months ago, it’s been in regular rotation). And Jeremy happily anticipates the leftovers in his lunch the next day.

I typically soak and cook my own beans, but canned work just as well, feel free to add more beans if you want them a little less saucy–I often do that. I love that this is so full of flavor and spice with just a hint of sweetness. Try this recipe, for a main dish or a side, you’ll be glad to have it in your repertoire.

STOVE-TOP BAKED BEANS
(slightly adapted from Ellie Krieger)
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1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 bell pepper, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
8 oz can tomato sauce
2-3 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp yellow mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp smoked paprika (opt.)
1/4 tsp black pepper
15 oz can navy beans, drained and rinsed
1 c. water

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add all the ingredients up to the beans and whisk to combine. Add the beans and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the liquid thickens, about 30 minutes.

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Black Beans and Rice with Fresh Apple Salsa

I love black beans and was excited to find this recipe in the most recent Bon Appetit magazine, which takes the humble bean and ups the ante with a fresh apple salsa. The original recipe called for topping the dish with shredded chicken, but I wanted a vegetarian dish. This was full of flavor and I didn’t miss the meat. Plus this is a cinch to throw together, so you can enjoy this healthful, seasonal, naturally gluten-free, vegetarian meal on a busy weeknight.

BLACK BEANS AND RICE WITH FRESH APPLE SALSA
(slightly adapted from Bon Appetit, January 2012)
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1 c. chopped apple (I used Fuji because that’s what I had on hand, though Granny Smith was the original suggestion)
1/2 c. chopped fresh cilantro, divided
1/3 c. finely chopped red onion, divided
1 1/2 tsp lime juice
1/2 c. finely chopped bell pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
dash of red pepper flakes
3 c. chicken broth or water
2 15 oz. cans black beans, rinsed and drained
4 c. cooked brown rice

For the salsa: combine apple, 1/4 cup cilantro, 2 Tbsp onion, and lime juice in a small bowl. Toss to coat. Set aside.

Combine remaining onion, bell pepper, and oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until completely softened, 6-7 minutes. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and red pepper flakes; stir constantly for 2 minutes. Stir in broth or water and beans; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer briskly, mashing about half the beans with a potato masher or the back of a spoon, until sauce is thickened, 8-1o minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

On plates layer rice, beans, and apple salsa. Top each with cilantro and serve with lime wedges.

Lentil Pasta Soup

Lentil soup is pretty much one of my family’s favorites. It’s comforting, healthy, and just plain delicious. One thing I love about cooking with lentils is that they are quick and easy to prepare – you don’t have to soak the beans or let them cook for hours like most dried beans.

Anyway, I’ve made many variations of lentil soup and this one did not disappoint. I adapted it from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe. The pasta made it extra good and we definitely enjoyed this meatless, hearty soup. It’s heathy and easy – perfect for winter and perfect for these busy holiday prep days!

LENTIL PASTA SOUP
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2 Tb. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 (14 1/2-oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 1/4 c. lentils (I used a combo of green and red)
11 cups chicken broth (or vegetable to make it vegetarian)
3/4 tsp. dried thyme
1 c. dried elbow pasta
Parmesan cheese (opt.)
Olive oil for drizzle (opt.)

Heat the oil in a  large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots and saute for a couple of minutes. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper and saute until all the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes (do not drain). Simmer until the juices evaporate a little and the tomatoes break down, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add the lentils and mix to coat. Add the broth and stir. Add the thyme. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and simmer over low heat until the lentils are almost tender, about 30 minutes.

Return to a boil and stir in the pasta. Simmer until the pasta is tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

To serve: sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and drizzle with olive oil.

Vegetarian: Black Bean Enchiladas

Mexican food nearly always sounds good to me. I found this recipe while blog-hopping. It’s quite easy, and while I baked them, this recipe also works in the crock-pot. I pumped up the veggies in the recipe, because I like to do that. We both enjoyed this new (for us) take on Mexican.

These enchiladas are vegetarian, but you can easily add some leftover cooked meat to the filling.

SLOW COOKER BLACK BEAN ENCHILADAS
(slightly adapted from The Kitchn)
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Serves 4-6

1/2 yellow onion, diced small
1 bell pepper, diced small
1 tomato, diced small
Big handful of fresh spinach, thinly shredded
1 16-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups cheese, shredded and divided – we like monterey jack
2 16-ounce jars of your favorite salsa
12 6”-8” tortillas, flour or corn (use corn tortillas for gluten-free enchiladas)
Optional: 1 cup leftover meat – chicken, pork, hamburger, or shredded beef

In a medium bowl, mix together the onion, pepper, tomato, spinach, black beans, corn, spices, meat (if using), and 1/2 cup of the cheese. Pour about a cup of salsa (half a jar) into the bottom of the slow cooker and spread it around evenly.

Scoop about 1/3 cup filling into one of the tortillas, roll it up, and nestle it into the bottom of the crock pot. Repeat with the half of the remaining filling, rolling tortillas until the entire bottom of of the crock pot is filled. Spread another cup of salsa over this layer and sprinkle it with another 1/2 cup of cheese.

Continue with the remaining filling and tortillas to create a second layer. Top with another cup of salsa, but reserve the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese for later. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on HIGH for 2-4 hours. In the last 15 minutes of cooking, sprinkle the leftover cheese over the top and let it melt.

Serve the enchiladas with the remaining salsa. Leftovers will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator.

Cook’s Note: To bake these enchiladas in the oven, layer the rolled tortillas in a 9×13 baking pan and cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with cheese, and bake uncovered for an additional 5-10 minutes.

Vegetarian: Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos

Apparently I’m really into tacos right now. I’ve collected several out-of-the-ordinary taco recipes to try. This vegetarian taco recipe came from a new cookbook, Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free by Amy Green. I was surprised by how many recipes I wanted to try from this cookbook. She had lots of easy, tasty sounding recipes.

These came together super fast and tasted super delicious (bonus, they’re also super cheap to make!). Even my husband who thinks most meals should include meat, thought these were good. The sweet potatoes add a sweet edge to the tacos, which cut the spicy a bit, although we do like spicy foods around here. I loved these topped with sliced or mashed avocado, salsa and cheese. These will definitely be working their way into regular menu rotation at our house.

SWEET POTATO AND BLACK BEAN TACOS
(from Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free)
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1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced 1/4 inch
1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 onion, diced
1 14.5-ounce can black beans, drained, liquid reserved
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2+ teaspoon chile powder
10 corn tortillas
salt and pepper

Optional topping ideas:
guacamole
salsa
cheese
sour cream
shredded lettuce
shredded veggies

Preheat the oven to 200°F.

Place the sweet potato in a steamer basket with 1/2-inch of water in the pan. Cook for 10 minutes, or until cooked through but still al dente. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large nonstick saute pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook for 5-8 minutes, until soft. Add the beans, cumin, chile powder, and 1/4 cup of the reserved bean liquid. Mash some of the beans in the pan and add more liquid as  necessary.

Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and toast the tortillas until they’re warm and a little brown on each side. Wrap the tortillas in aluminum foil and keep warm in the oven.

When the sweet potatoes are cooked, add them to the beans and stir. Add more liquid if necessary. The taco filling shouldn’t be dry, but it shouldn’t be runny either. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Spoon the filling into the center of each tortilla. Top as desired.