It’s been so long!
I’ve been busy with things; new jobs and a new apartment have had me pretty tied up. However, I’ve recently started cooking more frequently, and a post I saw on Mark Bittman’s blog got me inspired to try an experiment with black beans. I decided to combine a few recipes: Cuban Black Beans and Skillet Asparagus from Linda Watson’s excellent Cook for Good plus some scallops for good measure.
This past weekend, house-sitting for my aunt, I found myself in a beautiful kitchen full of good food. I took advantage of the opportunity.
You will need:
- 1 ½ — 2 cups dried black beans
- 3 bay leaves
- 4 — 6 cloves garlic
- 1 onion
- 1 green pepper
- 1 tomato
- 1 ½ tsp cumin
- ½ tsp chipotle or cayenne pepper
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- Asparagus spears (as many as you’d like; 2 — 3 per person is plenty)
- Scallops (omit these to keep it veggie-friendly, but they make a lovely addition to the plate)
Pre-soak the black beans if you are using dried beans. 6 — 10 hours should be plenty. As always, I highly recommend dried beans over canned. They are cheaper and taste better. Black beans, when soaked, produce a lovely deep purple broth.
If you are using canned beans, skip straight to the cooking. Place the beans in a pot with more than enough water to cover them. Add several bay leaves and bring the pot to a boil, then reduce it to a low heat. Let the beans simmer on low heat for about an hour.
As they boil, foam may form on the surface of the pot. Skim it off with a spoon and dispose of it.
Once you have the pot simmering, the liquid will start to reduce a little bit.
After about an hour, grab your non-tomato veggies: the green pepper, onion, and three or four cloves of garlic. The tomato will be added later.
Finely mince the garlic, and dice the green pepper and onion.
Toss your chopped vegetables in with the beans and stir to mix.
To the mixture, add the cumin, chipotle, and oregano. When I made it, I didn’t have any oregano, so I omitted it. It was still very good. Mix in your spices.
Meanwhile, prepare a little rice in a separate pot. You can use whatever variety you like. Basmati is always a good choice.
Now for the fun part. Get a medium-sized pan over medium heat and throw some butter in there. A generous hunk will do.
While the butter melts, mince another couple cloves of garlic and toss them in the pan.
Place your asparagus in the pan and let them roll around with the garlic for a few minutes. Shouldn’t take more than five. They should turn a much brighter green when they are cooked.
Once the asparagus is cooked, put it aside, perhaps wrapped in a paper towel to keep it warm while the scallops are being prepared. Into the same pan, drop a few scallops. You can make as many as you like.
By this time, the seasoned beans should be coming along nicely. Dice a tomato and toss it in. The original recipe doesn’t call for a tomato, but I think it adds a lovely bit of colour and flavour to the dish. I chose to add it later in the process so that it wouldn’t get all mushy and purple from being in the broth for a long time.
Remove the bay leaves now, if you haven’t already.
Give the tomato a few minutes to warm up. If all goes well, the rice should be done by now and everything should be finished.
Serve the beans over rice with a few asparagus spears placed on top. A couple drops of lemon juice will suit the asparagus nicely, if you have it. If you made scallops, set them to the side to avoid getting the scallopy flavour on the other things.
Enjoy with a glass of white wine and good company.
If you make this recipe, please leave a comment and let me know your thoughts!