Tag Archives: beans

For the cold days

Remember that bread making class I took? I’m sure that you’re expecting more recipes for all thing yeasty.

I have plans.

Yet, right now, I’m going to tell you about beans. I know, I know, it doesn’t quite make sense. Trust me, it’ll be worth it.

The short version of this is that, at the end of my class, I bought one of the instructor’s books, wooed by the promise of step by step pictured accompanying the instructions on making sourdough. Then, as I was flipping through, I saw this recipe for red beans. Having just spent three days making bread, this went straight to the top of my must make this now list.

I love all things braised, particularly in red wine, but, since, all things considered, I’m still fairly new to eating so much read meat, I’m always looking for ways to get the flavors without all of the heaviness.

This hits all the right notes. It’s rich, without the weight of so much fat, but with enough heft to be a main course. And, if you substitute dried herbs, then it’s made with pantry staples.

Today promises to be a cold one, I’d suggest getting started on making this immediately.

Red Wine Braised Kidney Beans
Recipe from The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen

1.5 cups dried dark kidney beans, rinsed and soaked
3 TBS olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
1 small carrot, finely diced
1 small celery, finely diced
sea salt
4 TBS tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup full bodied red wine, like rioja or chianti
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried sage
freshly milled black pepper

Preheat your oven to 275 F

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine beans with 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Skim the foam and simmer on a low heat for about 1 hour.

In the meantime, in Dutch oven, warm the oil over a medium heat. Add the onions, celery, carrots, and a pinch of salt. Saute for 5 minutes, then add the tomato paste, garlic, and red pepper flakes and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Add in the dried herbs and stir.

Pour the wine into the Dutch oven and bring it to a boil. Add the vinegar and bay leaf. Then add the beans and their skimmed liquid. If necessary add more water so that the beans are covered.

Bring the beans to a boil. Cover the Dutch oven and cook for 1-2 hours, until the beans are creamy on the inside but still hold their shape. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4


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And so, we press on

I know, I know, after posting recently about transplants and stolen wallets, it feels a little anticlimactic to be telling you about bean salad.

I suspect it would be anyway.

This is the last of the Second Annual Indian Summer Picnic recaps. And, I’m not really sure that a humble bean salad stands a chance against pounds and pounds of pork or a cake so good my guests are still talking about it a month later.

And, yet, this bean salad is precisely what I’m choosing to share with you now.

It’s not by necessity—I have a whole series of recipes that I’m waiting to share.

Rather, it’s because my four bean salad is exactly the kind of thing that I need these days. It’s humble, yes, but it’s also infinitely adaptable. This is particularly important if, like me, you were raised by a woman who told you that if you didn’t have any leftovers, you didn’t have enough food. This is a maxim I still hold true, which is why, this is one of those recipes that’s meant to serve more as a guide so that, if three hours before your guests arrive you start to get nervous that you won’t have enough food, you can simply add more beans.

Or tomatoes.

Or, well, you get the idea.

And, on that note, I’m hoping to have more information to share about the stolen wallet saga soon, mostly because, in all honestly, I’m anxious to have this put behind me. I’ve already spent countless hours on the phone dealing with the aftermath, all the while trying to remind myself that, while this is something that happened to me, it’s not something that happened to me.

If you know what I mean by that, we should definitely be friends. In which case, there’s a very good chance I would be making you this very salad.

Four-Bean Salad

1 cup green beans, cut in 1″ pieces
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 bunch scallions
2 cups chick peas
1 cup black beans
1 cup kidney beans

For the Dressing:
1 shallot, diced finely
2 TBS cider vinegar
1 TBS red wine vinegar
1 TBS Dijon Mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

If you’re using dried beans, cook them according to the method outlined here. For canned beans, simply drain and rinse them and set aside until you are ready to use.

Blanche the string beans and set them aside.

In a large bowl, combine the shallots, mustard, vinegars, salt, and pepper and whisk to combine. Slowly pour the olive oil in to the mixture, whisking constantly to combine.

Mix the beans, string beans, and tomatoes with the vinegarette and toss to combine. Garnish with scallions and add salt and pepper to taste.

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Screaming of Summer

When I started this blog more than a year ago, I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t resort to posting about the weather. I’ve had a nice run of it, too. But, on the East Coast, last week was too hot to go without mention.

So, in the midst of the last epic heatwave, I did the only reasonable thing possible—I left the city.

Atlantic City has the benefit of being far enough from New York City to feel like you’re getting away, but close enough to make the trek in a day.

Plus, it’s quintessential Americana.

In the interest of full disclosure, I had never been to Atlantic City before, but after spending last summer at Fenwick Island and visiting Ocean City, I had list in mind—salt water taffy, a trip to the Casino (I won 15 cents! After spending 5 dollars!), a stroll on the boardwalk, and a trip the beach.

Did I mention how much I love Americana? Especially, this kind, that’s so specifically connected to the summer.

I made this succotash before the latest heatwave, when I could still stand the idea of turning on my oven, but I’m sharing it now because, much like my weekend daycation, it screams of summer to me.

Make it for your next picnic.

Summer Succotash

1 cup dried cranberry beans
4 ears of corn
1 TBS olive oil
6 strips bacon, diced
1 shallot
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 TSP red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Rinse the cranberry beans, bring them to a boil for 3-5 minutes, covered and let stand for 3 hours. Rinse and cook for 45 minutes in salted water. Set the cooked beans aside, allowing them to cool.

At the same time, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat the corn cobs with olive oil and salt to taste. Cook 45 minutes, and set aside to cool. Once the corn is cooled, cut the kernels off of the cobs and set them aside.

Heat a large skillet over a low flame. Once the skillet is hot, add the bacon, cooking until the fat has rendered, about 10-12 minutes. Remove the bacon and set aside.

Add the shallots and red pepper flakes to the bacon fat, sauteing for 3 to 5 minutes, until the shallots are soft. Add the corn and cranberry beans back into the skillet, stirring to combine. Add the red wine vinegar into the pan and stir, scrapping the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

Plate the succotash adding the bacon to the top. Serve at room temperature.

Serves 4 to 6

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Repeat Performances

I probably shouldn’t admit this, but there are very few things that I am willing to eat for days on end. In fact, aside from this bread, I can think of only one.

Greek style gigante beans.

I can’t explain it except to say that the interplay of the acidic tomatoes and creamy beans hits all of the right notes, tastewise. It’s complex, but also homey.

Honestly, now that I’d written that, it sounds overblown.

So, instead, I’ll say this: it simply tastes good.

I opted to use great nothern beans in my version because, honestly, when it comes to cooking, I’m not particularly good about planning ahead. By which I mean, I didn’t think to soak my beans the night before. I thought the smaller beans might cook in less time. Thankfully, I was right.

Of course, now that I know how easy it is to make these beans myself, I’ll be doing so again. Maybe, I’ll get my act together to do it the more authentic way that the original recipe suggests, ouzo and all.

Greek Style Beans
Adapted from Bon Appetit

8 ounces dried great nothern beans
3 TBS olive oil
2 small chopped onions
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups chicken stock
1 14 ounce can tomatoes, pureed
1 TBS tomato paste
3 TBS red wine vinegar
1 TBS lemon juice
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp red pepper flakes

Rinse beans and pick out any damaged ones. Then place the beans in a large pot or bowl and cover with water. Soak at least eight hours.

When you are ready to cook the beans, preheat your oven to 350. Then, in a large dutch oven, heat olive oil over a medium high heat. Add the chopped onions, garlic and red pepper flakes and saute until the onions are golden brown, about 6-7 minutes. Add tomato paste and heat for another 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock and simmer.

Rinse the beans and add them to the dutch oven along with the pureed tomatoes, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, and oregano. Bring to a boil and cover the pot. Place the covered pot in the preheated oven. Cook for 60 minutes covered, then uncover and cook at least another 30 minutes, until the beans are tender and the sauce has thickened.

Serves 6

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It’s All Been Done Before

Yes, I’ve already posted a recipe for a version of Chana Masala. But, this one’s far more authentic. And, even easier than the first.

And, as if the Chana Masala wasn’t enough, the pickled onions are guaranteed to be your go-to condiment for any meal, Indian or otherwise.

Authentic Chana Masala
Courtesy of Rajni and that Indian dinner from so long ago

1 TBS butter
1 large onion, diced
1/2 seranno chili
2 tomatoes, diced with seeds
1 TBS chana masala
1 TBS salt
2 cans chickpeas, drained
1/2 cup water
3 TBS cilantro, chopped

Over a medium flame, heat the butter and saute the onions and serrano chili, along with 1/2 TBS salt, about 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Then, add the tomatoes, with seeds and juice into the onions. Stir and add in the rest of the salt and chana masala and cook 2 minutes. Add water and chickpeas and bring the mixture to a simmer, heating for 15 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and pickled onions (recipe follows).

Serves 6 as a main dish

Pickled Onions
2 red onions, cut into slivers
Juice of 1 lemon
3 TBS white vinegar
1 TBS salt

Combine all of the ingredients and marinate at least 30 minutes prior to serving. Serve at room temperature.

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File It Away

And so we descend into the seasonwhereitstoocoldtoleavethehouse. (I’m hoping if I say it quickly, maybe it won’t last as long.)

Hope springs eternal, as they say.

But, while I wait for Spring, it’s time for some heartier fare.

Soup is, of course, a great option. But, on those really cold days in store, I want something a little more substantial, and I think these lentils fit the bill perfectly.

They’re quick to make, taking about 45 minutes, but taste like they’ve been stewed for hours, thanks to the addition of bacon which imparts a smoky flavor and the tomato paste that lends an added depth. But, you could easily make them vegetarian, too, and wouldn’t lose much of the complexity. And, they’re economical, so if, after many days of being housebound from the cold, you crack and order in, you don’t even need to feel guilt.

As an added bonus, the lentils freeze well, so you can make a big batch and eat them throughout the winter. I’ll be doing just that.

Stewed Lentils
Adapted from Ina Garten

The biggest change that I made to this recipe was the addition of bacon, which takes the lentils from a simple side to a main dish. I also use black beluga lentils. They’re a little smaller than the French lentils Garten calls for and the texture stays intact despite the stewing. French lentils would work perfectly here as well. Avoid plain lentils as they tend to get mealy.

4 strips bacon, diced
2 TBS olive oil
1/2 cups black beluga lentils
2 cups chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 stalks celery, diced
3 carrots, chopped
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 tsp thyme
2 TBS tomato paste
3 TBS red wine vinegar

Boil lentils 15 minutes, drain and set aside.

In a large frying pan, heat up the bacon, rendering out the fat. Strain the bacon from the fat and set it aside.

Add olive oil to the bacon fat and allow it to heat up. Saute the onions until they are translucent, then add in the garlic and thyme. Cook for 2 minutes. Then, add celery, onions, and tomato paste and cook for 3 minutes.

Add the lentils and chicken stock. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until the stock has fully absorbed. Once the stock has fully absorbed, add the vinegar and simmer for 5 minutes.

Sprinkle with bacon before serving. Serve with rice.

Serves 4

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Curry in a hurry

chana masala

I order Indian food far more than I should. I can’t help it, and the fact that I live a stone’s throw away from New York’s Curry Hill certainly doesn’t make it any easier.

There’s just something about the cuisine with its heady mix of spices that I love. Perhaps its because the food makes me nostalgic for my student days in London, living on Drummond Street when my flatmates and I would scour every restaurant on the block for the best deals, eventually finding a place with a £5 thali and BYOB that became a staple. Or, it’s the intense flavor that characterizes the dishes, making them filling without being heavy.


I’ve had this nagging sense that I could save myself a ton of money if I could simply learn how to cook Indian food myself. And, yet it’s the cooking that’s always eluded me. Each dish would be good, but, not quite there. Or, that was true until I found the recipe below.

The ingredients were mostly things I had on hand, or at the very least was familiar with, and the method couldn’t be more simple. The trick here is making sure that your spices are toasted well before adding any of the liquid. Let them go until they fill your kitchen with perfume. You’ll be able to tell when they’re ready just by the smell. Another trick, I suppose, is getting pointers from a South Indian friend whose mother taught her how to cook (see note below).

onions onions and spice

So, finally, curry from my own kitchen! And, now, yours, too.

The best part, aside from tailoring your dinner to your own personal tastes? Knowing it’ll be on your table in far less time than delivery.

Chana-ish Masala

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

A few notes before you get started:

  • Don’t get discouraged by the amount of spices that this recipe calls for. Once you have them around, the dish is basically a mix of pantry staples. And, what could be easier, or cheaper, than that?
  • And with regard to those spices: Smitten Kitchen’s version of this recipe calls for Amchoor powder. I had no luck finding it despite going to Kalustyan’s, which sells every spice under the sun. It turns out it was there all along, I was just too short to find it. At any rate, I substituted Anardana powder, which is another souring agent made from pomegranate seeds. I’m sure that Amchoor powder, which is made from unripe mangoes, would be lovely as well. In either case, if you don’t want to make the investment in the spices, doubling up the lemon juice should also give you the desired sourness to tie the curry together.
  • About the beans. Traditional chana masala is made exclusively with chickpeas. I used a mixture of chickpeas, red kidney beans and roman beans in the dish pictured here because I like the mix of textures and happened to have those varieties on hand.
  • And, last but not least, a friend of mine whose family hails from Southern India mentioned to me that her mother used to add brown sugar to her curries to give them an added depth and curry leaves for the aromatic smell. I’ve added both here. They’re optional, but well worth it. Together they’ll make your dish taste far more authentic.

1 TBS vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp grated ginger
1 TBS ground coriander
2 TBS ground cumin
½ tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 anardana powder
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp garam masala
1 28 oz can of tomato puree
1 tsp crushed curry leaves (optional)
2/3 of water
6 cups beans
1/2 salt
½ lemon, juiced
1 tsp Tabasco Sauce
2 TBS Brown Sugar (optional)

Heat oil in a large pan or dutch oven. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook over a medium heat until browned.

Turn the heat down and add in your spices (everything from coriander to garam masala on the list above). Cook for about 2 minutes, until the spices get fragrant.

Add in your tomatoes, water, brown sugar, and curry leaves and stir. Once the liquid is incorporated with the spiced onion mixture, add in the beans.

Allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in salt, lemon juice and Tabasco sauce, and simmer for another 5 minutes so the the flavors have a chance to meld.

Serve with rice.

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