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Husband and I came to a consensus at lunch this afternoon: we could eat Mexican inspired flavors every day. Even after tacos and quesadillas earlier, this was the perfect way to end the day. The bit of cocoa, spice and hearty texture made for a wonderfully comforting meal, and the avocado garnish brightened it up and balanced it to perfection. I’m in love! I must admit we were running a little late with dinner and I cheated on the tortillas crispies with tortilla strips – but next time I’m making them myself, for sure! And cooking the beans too – I bet the flavor will have even more punch.

Black Bean & Butternut Soup
via sprouted kitchen

1 Tbsp. coconut or extra virgin olive oil (I used avocado oil)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 a small head of cabbage, chopped (heaping 2 cups)
3 cups cubed butternut squash (sweet potato would be good too)
3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. cocoa powder
pinch of chipotle powder or cayenne pepper
2 cups cooked, black beans (about one can, rinsed and drained)
salt to taste

avocado, for garnish
cilantro, for garnish

// tortilla crispies //
3 corn tortillas
scant 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. sea salt

In a heavy bottomed pot, warm the oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and saute until just beginning to brown, about 6-8 minutes. Add the garlic, cabbage, squash and broth. Turn the heat down to a gentle simmer, cover the pot and cook for about 15-20 minutes for the vegetables to cook.
Add the spices and the beans and stir. Let everything continue to cook another ten minutes for the flavors to blend. Salt to taste. To thicken the soup, run just a bit of the soup through a blender or food processor, and add it back in to the pot. Or a sprinkle of cornmeal will help thicken it as well. Or do a few pulses with an immersion blender. Whatever works for you!

For the tortilla crispies, preheat the oven to 375′. Stack them and slice into thin matchsticks. Spread on a baking sheet, drizzle with the oil, sprinkle the salt and toss gently to coat. Spread them in a single layer on the baking sheet and bake for about 10-15 minutes until they are light brown and crispy, giving the pan a shake halfway through.

Garnish each bowl with some diced avocado, a handful of chopped cilantro and some of the tortilla crispies.

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I’ve always got one eye out for slow cooker meals, since there’s not many things better than coming home to the whole house smelling like dinner and being able to dive right in. I made this pot of chili the cheating way; I didn’t prep anything properly except the beans (and I left out the peppers since my stomach’s been a bit sensitive lately), but it still turned out amazing.

Black Bean & Mushroom Chili
adapted from eating well

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup mustard seeds
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds, or ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cardamom seeds, or ground cardamom
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
1 pound mushrooms, sliced
8 ounces tomatillos, husked, rinsed and coarsely chopped
5 1/2 cups mushroom broth
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1-2 tablespoons minced canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (optional)
1 1/4 cups grated Monterey Jack, or pepper Jack cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro

Soak beans overnight in 2 quarts water. Drain the beans, discarding soaking liquid.
Place the beans and all remaining ingredients (except the last three) in a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Mix well. Turn heat to high. Put the lid on and cook until the beans are creamy, about 8 hours.
Garnish with cheese, sour cream & cilantro and serve.