Posts tagged beans

peruvian potato salad with pepper black beans

Apparently, there is a fantastic Peruvian restaurant in our hometown, slightly less than a mile from our house.  In a neighborhood with plenty of low- or no-frills taquerias, this sophisticated little spot is more than it seems from the outside.  Sure, it’s not as cheap, but again, in a town that has more than its fair share of Mexican food from various parts of Mexico, there’s astonishingly little food from the rest of Latin America, despite the fact that our immigrants are certainly diverse.

Our gregarious waiter recommended the causa, a popular Peruvian cold potato salad.  Usually, the potato salad is made with vegetable oil, lime juice, and aji amarillo (a spicy local pepper), then spread thinly with mayonnaise and layered with avocado slices and a salad of chilled tuna, chicken, crab, or other protein.  Usually it is accompanied by hard-boiled egg and olives.  In the search for a meatless alternative, I thought some saucy, peppery black beans, though untraditional, would be just the thing.  In lieu of avocado slices, I just used a smear of guacamole to make things simpler.

Peruvian Potato Salad with Pepper Black Beans (4 servings)

Ingredients:

For the Potato Salad:

  • 8 medium Yukon gold potatoes (or if you want to get really crazy and alliterative, use purple potatoes!)
  • aji amarillo paste or peppers, to taste (I used 4 minced pickled hot wax peppers, but I also hear that hatch, anaheim, or jalapeno peppers can all be used)
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 sliced avocado, or 1/2 c. guacamole

For the Black Beans:

  • 1 onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. ancho chile powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 can of black beans, undrained
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Place potatoes in a saucepan and cover them with cold water.  Bring to a boil and cook through.
  2. Meanwhile, cook minced onion, garlic, and bell pepper in olive oil over medium heat until softened.  Add spices and saute another minute, until fragrant.  Add the black beans and their juices.  Stir until well combined, and then simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Take off the heat before chilling the potatoes.
  3. When the potatoes are cooked through, run through a ricer or food mill (I used the grater on my food processor).  Add peppers, olive oil, lime juice, cayenne, salt, and pepper.
  4. Line ramekins or miniature loaf pans with plastic wrap.  Press potato mixture into the containers and wrap ends of plastic wrap over the top.  Chill until cold, about 30 minutes or so.
  5. Unmold cold potato salad onto plates.  Top with a spoonful of guacamole and spoon the bean mixture over the top.

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Black Beans and “Rice”

We love beans in this house.  Inexpensive, healthy, vegetarian, and infinitely variable: red beans, black beans, white beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans.  Interestingly, this is probably a rather short list in what I understand is a wide spectrum of bean species.  I admit that this is because we normally go for the canned beans – more expensive?  Yes.  More sodium?  Definitely.  Not requiring of pre-planning so I can make them on a whim?  Precisely why I use them.  Still, I recently read that you can pre-soak beans and then freeze them, so that they would have a shorter (though still longer than canned) cooking time.

Also, I was reminded the other day that you can purchase an astonishing variety of beans via mail-order, and they are sure to be fresh, meaning that they will soak in less time and cook up to be soft and delicious.  Of course, in order to do this, I have to eat up all the soup STILL taking up space in my several dozen glass jars in our freezers.  That’s right, I said freezers, with an “s.”  We have a chest freezer in our house, right next to our fridge.  I bought it so that I could do things like make broths from scratch, and freeze them – so far I have not done this, waiting on, again, the soups.

But I digress.  This week, I really wanted to make a dish with black beans, because it has been a while since we partook of beany goodness, fulfilling our twice-weekly vegetarian meal requirement mostly with cheese protein.  I also had a cauliflower.  Cauliflower is all right, though a fairly plain vegetable, and I plugged it into http://www.foodblogsearch.com to get ideas, and one that popped up was of Cauliflower Rice.  I was intrigued.  I tried it.  I ended up with…

…cauliflower couscous, apparently.  It was my own fault for chopping the cauliflower into couscous-sized pieces instead of rice-sized pieces.  As for the taste?  It passed with me, although it’s not as chewy or hearty as rice would have been.  J was not really as thrilled, but admitted that with cheese, it would probably have been very edible – ringing endorsement, I know, but I don’t expect everything I make to be knock-your-socks-off delicious.  I do expect that some people WILL find this a fantastic substitution for rice (or couscous) and will dance a jig finding this.

Cauliflower “Rice” (2-3 servings)

This “rice” is not suitable for use in recipes where its primary purpose is to soak up some of the liquid, such as in soups, where the rice cooks in the broth.  However, it will be great under heavier, well-seasoned sauces.  Curry sauce, for example, would probably be excellent with this.

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cauliflower

Directions:

  1. Grate or chop the cauliflower florets into the size of rice granules, or couscous.  I used the food processor – I would recommend doing it in small batches at a time and watching very carefully to be sure it isn’t chopped too small.  I did it all at one time, and struggled to get it all chopped, which is why it ended up the size of couscous.  You could also use the grater attachment with a food processor, and chop the strands manually if they are too long.
  2. Place in a microwave-safe bowl, and cover with plastic wrap.  Microwave for about six minutes, or until cauliflower is tender.  Fluff with a fork just as you would rice.

Freakin’ Hot Black Beans (2 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 chipotle in adobo sauce, minced
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • juice of one lime
  • 1/2 c. – 1 c. chicken broth

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a pot over medium heat.  Add vegetables, and cook, stirring frequently, until they are beginning to get tender, about five minutes.
  2. Add remaining ingredients (more or less chicken broth as you wish), and cook, stirring often, until vegetables are tender.
  3. Mash some of the beans with a potato masher to thicken juices.

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