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.

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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.

Simple Supper: Cajun Shrimp and Rice

Before I jump into today’s recipe, I want to announce that the winner of last Friday’s Table Inspirations book giveaway is….Amanda! Her favorite summer meal is a BLT and sweet corn. Sounds delicious!

 

I’ve taken to purchasing a package of frozen shrimp about once a month on my quest to teach myself to like shrimp (I’m getting there!). They make a quick supper, which is a huge draw for me at the end of a long work day. I really enjoyed this dish; it’s filled with spice. And aside from researching and mixing up my own Cajun seasoning, this came together super quick. Jeremy was more than happy to take the leftovers for lunch the next day.

CAJUN SHRIMP AND RICE
(from Food Network Magazine, April 2010)
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1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails intact
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 plum tomatoes, chopped
2 bunches scallions, chopped
3 cups cooked rice
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Heat the butter, olive oil, and garlic in a large skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the Cajun seasoning and shrimp and cook, stirring until the shrimp begin to curl, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the tomatoes and scallions to the skillet and cook, stirring, about 1 minute. Add the rice and 1/4 cup water and continue to cook until the rice is warmed through and the shrimp is opaque, about 3 more minutes. Stir in the parsley and serve with lemon wedges, if desired.

Simple Supper: Curried Meatballs

I found this meatball recipe on the Everyday Paleo blog. We love curry around here and I enjoy trying different recipes that use curry. These meatballs are full of flavor and fabulous served alongside some curry-spiced stir-fried veggies. The sauce that coats them is just enough for the meatballs, if you want to serve these over rice or pasta, you may want to double or triple the sauce recipe to allow a little extra yumminess to mix in. 🙂

CURRIED MEATBALLS
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1 pound ground beef
1/3 cup finely diced red onion
1/3 cup finely diced apple
1/3 cup quick oats (use certified gluten-free oats for gf)
1 egg
1/2 – 1 Tablespoon curry powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F. In a large bowl, place all of the meatball ingredients and mix well (if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, I find it best to mix meatball ingredients with your hands). Form into golf-ball sized meatballs and place in a glass baking dish. Bake for 25 minutes. Makes 8-10 meatballs.

CURRY SAUCE

1 Tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 1/2 teaspoon honey
1 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup chicken broth

In a large skillet saute the garlic in the coconut oil over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the honey, curry powder, and tomato paste and whisk together. Add the chicken broth and continue to whisk until the sauce is smooth. Bring to a simmer. After the meatballs come out of the oven, add them to the sauce and turn to coat well. Cover and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes.

Simple Supper: Healthful Shepherd’s Pie

Remember me mentioning The Cleaner Plate Club a couple weeks ago? Well, I made another great recipe from the cookbook, a shepherd’s pie topped with mashed sweet potatoes. The recipe called for frozen veggies, which would undoubtedly be easier, but I decided to chop up a variety of fresh veggies I had on hand including cauliflower, spinach, carrots, and also frozen green beans. The result was quite delicious!

Take this recipe as a foundation and add the ingredients that suit your taste. This also makes great leftovers!

HEALTHFUL SHEPHERD’S PIE
(from The Cleaner Plate Club)
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1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup uncooked white rice
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
4 cups frozen mixed veggies ( about 2 packages)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 2 large), peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup milk
2 Tablespoons butter
1/3 cup grated cheese

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the onion and garlic until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the ground beef and brown until no longer pink, 10-15 minutes. Add the rice, tomatoes, and frozen mixed veggies (or chopped fresh veggies of choice). Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer for 15 minutes. Season with slat and pepper.

Meanwhile, steam the sweet potatoes until fork-tender, about 20 minutes. Put a couple of inches of water into a large pot, set a steaming basket in it, and bring to a boil. Set the sweet potatoes in the basket, cover, and let steam. Let the potatoes cool slightly, then mash them in a large bowl with the milk and butter.

Spread the meat mixture in the bottom of a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with the mashed sweet potatoes, and sprinkle the cheese on top. Bake until the cheese melts and starts to turn golden, 10-15 minutes.

Market Fresh: Eggs

Eggs are always in season and a wonderfully versatile ingredient. I am blessed to have access to local, organic eggs at $2.25/dz. I could eat eggs for breakfast and supper in the same day; I don’t, of course, but I could.

Today I want to share with you two great egg recipes that just might be out of your normal scope of egg cooking and eating.

Sometime ago, while flipping through an issue of Everyday Food, I came across several recipes that involved baking in parchment paper packets. The salmon recipe is amazing (will have to share another time). The egg recipe, equally superb. Combining eggs with seasonal veggies, you’ll have a balanced, semi-fancy meal within 20 minutes. It’s perfect for breakfast, brunch, or supper.

Parchment paper is a little pricey, but I find having a roll on hand is indispensable.

EGGS WITH ASPARAGUS AND MUSHROOMS
(adapted slightly from Everyday Food, issue unknown)
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2 teaspoons, extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
1/2 pound of fresh asparagus spears, woody ends broken off
4 ounces cremini mushrooms, coarsely chopped
4 large eggs
Salt and fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F. Prepare two 24-inch long pieces of parchment by folding each in half and then cutting into a half-heart shape. Place both pieces on a rimmed baking sheet. Brush half of each heart with olive oil. Place mushrooms and asparagus spears on oiled half. Carefully crack two eggs over each. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Pleat tightly around the edge to seal. (I’m not very adept at the pleating, so just do your best!)

Bake until the egg whites are set and asparagus is tender crisp, 8-10 minutes. Top with shredded Parmesan cheese, if desired.

(Note: If you make more than two servings, you will need to place baking racks in the upper and lower thirds and then rotate two baking sheets halfway through baking.)

Egg Drop Soup is a super easy and yummy first course for a home-cooked Asian meal. If you’re making this gluten-free be sure to use gluten-free soy sauce.

BETTER-THAN-TAKEOUT EGG DROP SOUP
(from The Cleaner Plate Club)
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1 Tbsp canola oil
2 scallions, chopped, white and green parts separated
4 c. chicken broth
1/2 tsp sherry (I used a splash of white wine)
1/2 tsp soy sauce (La Choy or San-J for gf)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp white pepper
1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
3 drops sesame oil
2 eggs

Heat the canola oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the white parts of the scallions and sweat for five minutes.

Pour 3 1/2 cups of broth into the pan, reserving 1/2 cup. Add the sherry, soy sauce, salt, ginger, and white pepper. Bring to a boil and let cook for 5 minutes.

Mix the cornstarch with the reserved broth in a small bowl, and add to the pan. Add the sesame oil. Turn the heat to low. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, then add to the broth while stirring rapidly in a clockwise motion. Stir for 1 minute, until the eggs have cooked and look like shreds.

Sprinkle the soup with the scallion greens. Serve hot. Serves 4.

Soup Pot: White Beans with Rosemary and Garlic

Do you know Alice Waters? I don’t know her personally, of course, but I have great admiration for Alice Waters. She started the restaurant Chez Panisse out in Berkeley, CA; she’s a slow food proponent; she loves good food; she writes recipes that highlight the natural beauty and flavor of the ingredients.

I own several of her gorgeous cookbooks! They are worth owning just for the joy of paging through them. The Art of Simple Food is a particular favorite. The recipes are simple, but deep. The book is filled with practical tips, and cooking fundamentals.

This is the second time I’ve made White Beans with Rosemary and Garlic. It’s incredibly easy, but the exquisite depth of flavor is something to savor from a humble bowl of beans. With just five ingredients, the garlic and rosemary sing out in each bite. Served alongside a nice green salad and some bread, you’ll have a well-balanced, easy, delicious meal.

WHITE BEANS WITH ROSEMARY AND GARLIC
(from The Art of Simple Food)
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1 cup dried white beans
salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon coarsely chopped rosemary leaves (I used 1/2 tsp dried)

Soak the beans overnight in 4 cups of water.

Drain and transfer to a heavy pot. Add water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and skim off the foam. Simmer gently for 2 hours or so, until the beans are tender. Add more water if necessary during the cooking. Season to taste with salt.

In a skillet over low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and rosemary. Cook just until the garlic is soft, about 2 minutes. Stir into the beans, taste for salt, and adjust as needed. Let the dish sit for a few minutes before serving to allow the flavors to marry (don’t you just love that description?!).

Market Fresh: Leeks

Leeks are intricately connected to Christmas-time for me. Growing up we ate them only once a year, but always on Christmas Eve when my mother made them into Potato Leek Soup. I realized there were many more delicious ways to use leeks when we lived in Scotland. There leeks are plentiful and commonly used for such things as soup, gratins, and side dishes. Similar in taste to an onion, but milder, leeks lend a lovely, savory taste to whatever dish they are added to.

Leeks come in a long, cylinder shape and need to be washed well before use. The easiest way to prepare leeks is to cut the very bottom off and begin slicing in thin rounds up through the white part and just into the green part. Separate the slices into little rings and gently wash. I use a salad spinner to wash and then spin dry the leek circles. If I don’t need a whole bunch of leeks at once, I freeze the extra on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper, removing them to a heavy plastic bag once frozen.

This week I have a great-tasting, easy recipe for using leeks: Creamy Chicken and Leeks served over a baked potato. It cooks up quickly and can be served with a salad alongside. For those of you interested in trying other leek recipes, let me suggest Alaina’s Potato Leek Soup, or this Creamy Baked Leeks with Citrus Crumbs, or perhaps just Buttered Leeks.

CREAMY CHICKEN AND LEEKS
(adapted from www.bbcgoodfood.com)

olive oil
6 strips bacon, chopped
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips
2 leeks, sliced into thin rounds
1 Tbsp. plain flour
1 1/4 c. chicken stock
1 Tbsp. grainy mustard
2 Tbsp. sour-cream

Heat the oil in a large sauce pan and fry the bacon for 2 minutes. Add the chicken, then cook with the bacon for a further 2-3 minutes, until the pieces begin to turn golden. Tip in the leeks and cook gently for 10 minutes until leeks are wilted and tender.

Stir through the flour and gradually add the stock, stirring constantly. Add the grainy mustard and sour-cream, stir again, then simmer gently for 5 minutes until the sauce is slightly thickened and creamy.

Serve on top of baked potatoes.

Serves 4-6.