Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Black Beans

The black bean also known as a turtle bean is not only delicious with its many preparations but also highly nutritious. They are high in fiber, (one cup of cooked beans can provide half the amount of daily fiber needed by a person). They are high in antioxidants, like cranberries also high in molybdenum (Black beans are one of the best sources around for this trace mineral. Molybdenum serves the useful purpose of breaking down sulfite (preservatives) found in food which some people are sensitive to.) folate (or vitamin B6) and they may also help in weight loss. This is because they are low in fat, only 85 calories for 1/2 cup, high in protein and also because of the high fiber content, it will help reduce food cravings. They are also a great source of iron and magnesium. All of this packed into one little bean.

Ok so how do you prepare a black bean? The easiest way I can think of is black beans and rice. Soak one or two cups of black beans (depending on how many people you are cooking for, two cups should serve about four people) in a bowl of water, put extra water the beans will expand over night. The next day drain and rinse them, then put beans in a pot and cover with water again put extra water we will drain the excess water if needed later. In the pot I like to add chopped onion and garlic, bring beans to a rapid boil then reduce heat just enough to keep them at a simmer. Cook until tender. Once they are cooked drain any excess water, season them with salt and pepper, fresh herbs and I like to use just a touch of cumin, serve with brown rice (see previous post). Now this may seem a little boring but I find it delicious plus its virtually fat free but full of nutrition, serve with some steamed or stir fried veggies and you have an easy well rounded meal. But there is so much more you can do with the black bean, if you have ever eaten anything mexican then you should have a good idea that they are used in almost everything. As much as I like black beans and rice thats not what I made for dinner, we had fajitas with black bean and corn salsa and and black bean paste, with sauted peppers and chicken, served with a side salad, mouth watering good.

For the two black bean dishes I followed the recipe above then divided the beans into two different containers.

Bean Paste:

Saute 1/2 an onion in vegetable or olive oil, add the onions to the beans, reserving any extra oil, use a hand blender or a traditional blender to puree the beans, slowly incorporate the oil until you have a smooth consistency. I like to add just a touch more cumin, and then season with salt and pepper if needed. Thats it your done you have a delicious addition to your fajitas or use a dip with tortilla or flat bread. (Whole grain of course)

Black Bean and Corn Salsa

So this is a little more labor intensive, but well worth it, and you can certainly make some substitutions.

Turn the broiler on in your oven (try using the barbecue or a handy little kitchen torch) and on a sheet pan place one medium size red pepper and one cob of corn (you could also use thaw out the equivalent amount of frozen corn and use that), place in the oven and give it a little flip occasionally until pepper is blackened and the corn is nice and golden brown, it too can be a little blackened that won't hurt. Once this is done remove them from the oven and place the red pepper in a bowl and cover with cling wrap, this will make it easier to remove the skin, let the pepper and corn cool down enough to handle.

Once cooled remove the pepper from the bowl and remove the skin, it should peel off easily, cut the pepper open and remove the seeds then cut it into a small dice.Remove the corn from the cob or if you used the frozen corn just sit aside. In a skillet saute a shallot or some white or red onion with garlic, and a few chili flakes then incorporate the reserved black beans that I spoke of earlier. Remove Bean mixture from heat allow to cool then add peppers and corn. Add some chopped cilantro the juice of one lime and a drop or two of your favorite hot sauce, season with salt and pepper if needed, and mix ingredients thoroughly. And there it is a black bean and corn salsa to use on your fajitas, tacos, with nacho chips or even heat it a little and have it on rice.

You could even add some fresh pineapple or mango for a little extra flare or use this recipe and turn it into soup and add chicken, the options are endless. If none of these recipes appeal to you there are many more out there waiting to be found, all I am saying is give the black bean a chance I think you will enjoy it.

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