Friday, April 22, 2011

Bean Cuisine

This first dish requires no cooking, and makes a perfect meal for a warm summer's day. Myself like to add a bit more 'green' to this dish, so would add some short pieces of cooked string beans or peas.
Tuna Salad with Beans and Red Onion: serves 4
1 can haricot or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
3 tblsp chopped fresh parsley
1 can tuna in oil, drained
6 oz (175g) cherry tomatoes, halved
1 clove garlic, crushed
zest and juice of 1 small lemon
6 tblsp olive oil
1 tblsp tarragon or white wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
pinch caster sugar (opt)
salt and pepper

Put the beans (canned and green if using)in a bowl with the onions and half the chopped parsley, adding seasoning to taste. Flake the tuna and set aside.
Make a dressing by mixing together the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic and whisk together. Add seasoning to taste, plus lemon zest, juice and sugar, and mix again, then add half of this dressing to the bean salad and toss before folding in the tuna and halved tomatoes.
Serve in one bowl or on individual plates, drizzling over the remaining dressing and sprinkling over the reserved parsley. Serve immediately at room temperature, with a green salad and warm crusty bread.

This next recipe starts as 'the basic' with suggestions as to how more flavours can be added (but only if you can afford - or even like - the suggestions). On its own its pretty tasty, so improve only as far as you wish.
White Beans in a Spicy Dressing: serves 3 - 4
1 lb (450g) tomatoes, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
pinch sugar
1 x 400g can cannellini (or other) beans, drained
salt and pepper
3 tblso olive oil
zest and juice of 1 small lemon
1 tblsp wine or cider vinegar
fresh parsley for garnish
pitta bread for serving

Put the chopped tomatoes, onion, pepper, garlic and sugar into a bowl and toss together, then fold in the drained beans and seasoning to taste.
Mix together the oil, lemon zest and juice and the vinegar, then pour this over the bean salad, and toss everything together lightly.
To allow flavours to develop, cover the bowl with a plate or cling-film and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
Serve with chopped fresh parsley and wedges of pitta bread.

Variation: As above, use mixed beans and add stoned black/green olives, quartered hard-boiled eggs and anchovy fillets (or canned and drained sardines).

Here is a recipe for a really tasty soup. Make extra and freeze the surplus.
Spicy Red Lentil Soup: serves 6
2 tblsp olive or sunflower oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
half teaspoon chilli powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander (or seeds)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 carrot, grated or finely chopped
1 tsp sugar
1 tblsp tomato paste
9 oz (225g) red lentils
3 pints (1.75ltrs)chicken stock
salt and pepper
finely chopped red onion, parsley
and lemon wedges for garnish

Heat oil in a large saucepan, and fry the onion, and spices for a few minutes, the stir in the garlic and fry for a further minutes, then add the carrot. Cook for 2 - 3 minutes before adding the sugar, tomato paste and lentils. Stir together then pour into the chicken stock, giving another good stir, then bring to the boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes or until the lentils are very soft and breaking up.
If the soup is thicker than you wish, thin down slightly with a little water, then add seasoning to taste. Serve immediately as-is, but if wishing for a really smooth soup, then blitz with a wand blender or in a liquidiser. Serve hot, sprinkled with chopped onion and parsley, and a wedge of lemon to squeeze over the lot.

Final recipe today is another useful one for the weekend, as the bean and beef 'filling' can be made a day ahead, covered and stored in the fridge. The 'burritos' must be assembled just before serving. Greek yogurt could be used instead of the sour cream.
Bean and Beef Burritos: serves 4
1 tblsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
12 oz(350g) minced steak
1 x 400g chopped tomatoes
1 tsp chilli powder (or to taste)
1 tsp sugar
1 x 300g can red kidney beans, drained
1 9" (23cm) flour tortillas
4 oz (100g) grated Cheddar cheese
2 - 3 tblsp sour cream/creme fraiche

Heat oil in a frying pan and fry the onion for a few minutes until softened, then stir in the garlic and cook for a further minute. Add the minced beef, making sure the 'grains' are broken up to avoid 'clumps', and fry until cooked through (about 10 minutes if best steak mince is used, up to half an hour for the cheaper mince). Stir in the chilli powder, the canned tomatoes, sugar and red beans, then simmer for about 15 minutes until the mixture has thickened. (Note: adding a heaped tsp of tomato paste helps to thicken more rapidly.
To make the 'Burritos', spread the filling over the tortillas, rolling to enclose filling, and secure each with a wooden cocktail stick/toothpick.
Place on an oiled baking sheet, sprinkle over the cheese and bake for about 10 minutes at 200C, 400F, gas 6 or until heated through. If using freshly cooked and warm filling this shouldn't take longer than 10 minutes, if using cold filling, allow extra time, tenting with foil half-way through to prevent the tortillas drying out and the cheese burning.
Serve Burritos topped with sour cream and a green salad. A guacamole (avocado) dressing goes well with these.