Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Pantry Stuff: Beans

I cannot say enough good things about beans.

They come in all sorts of colors and patterns.  They are super easy to grow, particularly the ones you allow to dry to maturity on the vine.  They store pretty much forever, kept in a tight lidded jar, and even longer if you put that tight-lidded jar in the freezer.  They are one of the most productive things in the garden, each seed making dozens and dozens more.

They are also quite delicious.

When the weather is hot, beans are my go-to protein choice.  Being both protein-rich and full of fiber, they are a great solution to keep me going in the garden, without needing to make the kitchen hot by roasting a chicken or something.  All I need to do is pop the lid off a can of pressure cooked beans (see how I make my own canned beans here), and then I can make all sorts of good, cool things to pull out of the fridge and snarf up between bouts of weeding.  I try to keep a good dozen jars or so on hand, of various types including King of the Early, anazazi, pea, garbanzo, black and pinto beans.  The great thing about canning your own beans is that you can try so many different kinds, and each adds something wonderful to even the simplest of dishes.

Wonderful, bean-alicious things such as....

Corn and Black Bean Salad, a super simple concoction of diced sweet bell pepper, frozen organic sweet corn nibblets and black beans, dressed with the juice of one lime whisked together with a slosh of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, ground cumin and fresh cilantro.

Homemade Hummus, whirled to perfection with garbanzo beans, tahini, plenty of garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and a pinch of salt.  This makes a perfect topping to falafel-filled pitas or served up with bagel chips, fresh cut up vegetables, and dark kalamata olives.

Bean and Bacon Quesadillas, a great way to use up leftover bacon from Sunday's breakfast.  Layer beans (possibly my own version of Mexican-style black beans) with bits of bacon and a good melty cheese of your choice, inside a folded-over flour tortilla and toast on a (preferably cast iron) griddle.  For extra bean-y fun, serve up with corn & bean salsa and a dab of sour cream or plain yogurt.

There's always refried beans, excellent with any meal, or warm beans on toast, possibly topped by a nice egg and some salsa.  Eggs and beans go fabulously together, and make a delicious omelet with a nice green salad picked fresh from the garden.  Or, added to cooked brown rice and assorted other yummy items, you can whirl them into a paste and make your own veggie burgers to cook up on the grill.  Beans are very versatile, and sadly overlooked by so many people.  I say, celebrate the bean!  Viva la bean!

If you have access to a pressure canner, I highly encourage you to make a few cans of your own prepared beans to store in your pantry.  If the thought of using a pressure canner gives you the willies (eeeeek!) at least go and stock up on a few cans of organic beans to keep in your pantry.  They are just the thing to pull out when the weather is warm.

1 comment:

  1. I typically spend an entire day cooking up dry beans in two crock pots. Then I freeze them for quick cooking (and healthy) recipes. We love beans too.


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