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Beans (And More Recipes)

November 10, 2013
Black Turtle Beans

Black Turtle Beans

Last week, we began shelling our dry beans. We started with the Black Turtle Beans, an heirloom bean from southern Mexico and Central America. They have been grown for over 7000 years! I have used these in soups, chili, salads, and dips/purees. They have a great flavor and hold their shape well. This week, we’ll work on the Rockwell beans. These are a rare heirloom bean, named after Elisha Rockwell, a pioneer who brought it to Whidbey Island, Washington, in the late 1800s. They have been grown there by home gardeners ever since and have just entered the larger marketplace the last few years. I have used these in the same ways I use the black beans, but I like them best in soups, chili and purees. I don’t usually make baked beans, but on Whidbey Island, that is how they are most loved. I love the flavor of these beans, but for me, they haven’t held their shape as well as the black beans.

Rockwell dry beans

Rockwell dry beans-sorry this is the same picture as a few weeks ago.

In case you haven’t cooked with dry beans before, they need to be soaked before cooking. I’ll give a few methods, one for when you are thinking ahead and one for when you are not quite so much (but still a little bit). Both of these methods are adapted from More-with-Less Cookbook by Doris Janzen Longacre.

Overnight Soaking Method

Rinse the beans (they might need a little rubbing as well) and place in a large pot, with 4 cups of water for every cup of beans. Cover and let stand 6-8 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse the beans.

Quick Soaking Method

Follow the directions for the overnight method, but instead of soaking, bring the water and beans to a boil for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover and let stand 1 hour. Drain and rinse the beans.

After soaking, to cook the beans, follow the recipe directions or, you can place them back in the pot and cover with cold water by a few inches. If the beans are tender (and they should be after soaking), add a big pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil, and then lower to a simmer. Let them cook until they are tender, stirring occasionally. If you like, you can add whole, peeled garlic cloves, a bay leaf and a chunk of peeled onions, for some additional flavor. These beans won’t take long to cook, maybe 5 to 15 minutes.  I say maybe 5, because when I use the Quick Soaking Method, I usually end up letting them soak for more than 1 hour, and by the time I am ready to cook them, they are so close to being done, that if I am making a soup or something like that, I let them finish up in the dish.

Now for some recipes. I have two soup recipes, a dip, and a bean side dish. And don’t forget the recipe from a few weeks ago, The Squash and Kale with White Bean Stew.

Black Bean Pumpkin Soup adapted from Gourmet, November 1996

  • 4-5 cups cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup canned tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 1 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup minced shallot
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T plus 2 t ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 4 cups stock (I used vegetable, since that was what I had)
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups pumpkin or winter squash puree (I chose to dice the squash into 1/4 inch cubes)
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry
  • 1/2 pound cooked ham, cut into 1/8 inch dice
  • 3 to 4 T Sherry vinegar

Coarsely puree the beans and tomatoes in a food processor. (I skipped this step and made a chunky soup instead of a pureed one.)

In a 6 quart pot, cook the onion, shallot, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper in the butter, over moderate heat, stirring until the onion is soft and beginning to brown. Stir in the bean puree, stock, pumpkin and sherry. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20-30 minutes, or until the squash is tender. (Or, if you are using the purees, until it is as thick as you like.)

Add the ham and vinegar and simmer until heated through. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with sour cream, cilantro and/or toasted pumpkin seeds.

Black Bean Dip adapted from Simply in Season

  • 1 T sesame seeds (toasted and ground–I left these out, since I didn’t have any on hand)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 2 cups cooked black beans
  • 2-4 T fresh cilantro (chopped)
  • juice of 1 lime (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • salt, hot pepper sauce, and ground cumin to taste

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and saute the onions until tender. Add the black beans and heat through. Place 1/2 cup of the bean mixture in a bowl with the sesame seeds. Puree the remaining beans in a food processor. Mix pureed beans with the beans and sesame seeds. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well. Serve warm or cold as a dip or a filling for tacos, burritos, or quesadillas.

White Beans with Rosemary and Garlic adapted from The Art of Simple Food

1 cup dried Rockwell beans, cooked (about 3 cups–see the cooking directions above)

1/4 cup olive oil

4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

1 t coarsely chopped fresh rosemary

In a heavy saucepan or skilled, warm the olive oil over low heat. Add the garlic and rosemary and cook until the garlic is soft, about 2 minutes. Stir in the beans, and add salt, if needed. Let the dish sit for a few minutes to allow the flavors to blend.

You could also let the beans cook further and mash them to make a puree.

Celeriac Soup adapted from River Cottage

Not a bean recipe, but a friend/customer told me her husband made a really good celeriac soup. I decided to look for a recipe and try it out. This may not be the same recipe, but we liked it.

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 celeriac, peeled and cubed
  • 1 potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 leek, trimmed, washed and roughly sliced
  • 1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced
  • 1 quart stock, chicken or vegetable
  • 1 hot pepper (whole–I added this )

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium low heat. Add the celeriac, potato, leek, onion, garlic and hot pepper and season with salt and pepper. Cook the vegetables gently for about 10 minutes, until they start to soften. Add the stock, bring the soup to a boil, then turn down and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the celeriac is tender. Remove the hot pepper and puree until smooth (I did not). Reheat and serve.

I saw another celeriac soup recipe I had saved from The Oregonian back in 2008. It was basically the same, but instead of potato, it used a Granny Smith apple and instead of the garlic and hot pepper, a bay leaf, black peppercorns and thyme (all removed before pureeing). It also added 1/2 cup heavy cream and nutmeg after pureeing, just before serving.

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