Black Bean Recipe Starring… Chia!

November 29, 2012 · 19 comments

Black bean recipes are hot stuff these days, and not just for the vegan Birkenstocks/natural fiber sporting set, either. Rick and I eat them, too. Although I do own several hemp t-shirts and a cotton broom-stick skirt… and we’re intensely bothered by factory farming practices… and we’re eating WAY less meat these days…

Never mind.

Have I mentioned that chia seeds are really hot stuff these days?! I know… what’s a chia seed, and why are they so hot in the foodie and weight loss world?

Rick made this dish for lunch on Monday. Why? Well, for one thing, the time is always right for a new table-banging good black bean recipe.

Also, I had a cup of fresh quinoa already simmering on the back burner. We had leftovers from two days earlier when we had soaked a bag of black beans overnight, drained and then cooked ’em for six hours in the slow cooker with a couple of bay leaves and salt. There was about a third of a cup of previously caramelized onions in the fridge that weren’t getting any younger. I had some chia seeds looking for a dish to be experimented in, and we have enough fun spices in the drawer that we could start our own British girl band.

Ack! Now I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want: I wannabe rid of this earworm, right now. Maybe focusing on the recipe might help…

Dice three or four gloves of garlic, chopped like this, in enough hottish olive oil to slick up the bottom of the pan.

Retrieve the aging carmelized onions from your fridge, or if you don’t have any, chop about a third of a cup, give ‘er take, and saute them alongside the garlic. You don’t want the garlic and onions to get brown, just translucent. If they look like they might be getting away on you, you can always “stop” them by splashing in some water or wine.

At least, that’s why Rick says there’s almost always an open bottle of wine nearby when he’s cooking. It’s a classic case of “It’s not for me… it’s for the children garlic.”

While the garlicy onioness bubbles, chop a tomato.

I post this photo not because I don’t think you know what a tomato is, but rather because you might not know the PROFESSIONAL way to chop a round slippery squishy ingredient, which is this, demonstrated by Rick’s lovely and intact fingers:

Grab a big SHARP knife. BTW, you don’t need a super expensive one, but every kitchen needs a good one. Rick is convinced you get just as good a blade with a reasonably-priced <$30 10 -inch Victorinox as you do with a $190 10-inch Wusthof. (For more, check our post on the range of knives and sharpeners Cook’s Illustrated recommends.)

Dig your nails into the top of the tomato, holding your fingers completely vertical, and then place the flat side of the scary blade firmly against the flat of your fingers, and push briskly.

You cannot hurt yourself, unless you are one of those people who simply cannot remember which way is horizontal and which way is vertical. If this is the case, step away from the knife, open a 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes, and use about half.

Did you know that, botanically speaking, a tomato is a fruit? Here it looks like a cross between a plum and a watermelon, only more tomatoery.

I digress… Chop the tomato in a medium dice and turf in the pot.

Let the tomato and alliums mingle a while until the ‘maters give it up and begin to release their juice.

Go ahead… stir the pot. You know you want to.

Spice girls! Ready? Welcome to the stage… a teaspoon of Cumin Spice!

Same with “O-Re-Gane-Oh.”

Add two-ish cups (or soup ladles, whatever is handy) of black beans.

Prepare yer own, or open a big can. Both work: PYO is less expensive but requires a continual kitchen (aka “planning”). Cans also require planning, but only the “put on the grocery list” type.

Add “chia seeds” while you’re at it. Buy them locally if you can, but if not, this is a decent price.

As I said, both work. Just save the bean liquid to top up the moisture at the end if needed.

Either way, it should amount to a hill of beans.

Here comes the secret seed for our secret sauce. We added two tablespoons.

Chia seeds absorb liquid. This means that for any recipe needing a thickener, or maybe just a new millennium make-over to impress guests with how you know that they’re are hot, throw in about 2 tablespoons of chia seeds, and… POOF! Problem solved.

Of course, if the viscosity of your dish is already perfect but you want to add the chia anyways (and who doesn’t want to be that cool?), add about a quarter cup of liquid per tablespoon of seeds.

Our black bean beauties were swimming around in a fair whack of liquid at this point, which is what inspired the “Quick! Chia seeds to the rescue!” move.

Salt according to your doctor’s concern about your blood pressure.

Let the wonderfulness simmer until the liquid is reduced to where you want it, and you can’t stand the fabulous aroma another second.

Before we leave this page, however, let’s zoom in on the chia darlings.

See how their outer layer has dissolved into this lovely gel? They still retain a slight “pop!” when you bite on them, somewhat akin to nibbling on a delicate caviar. The interesting thing about chia seeds is that they have almost zero flavor of their own, instead taking on the flavor of what’s around them.

They’re flavor agnostic.

Cilantro, on the other hand, is definitely not a fence-sitting kind of herb. Its extraordinary list of health benefits notwithstanding, people either like it or hate it, period.

If you’re pro-cilantro, chop a bunch and toss it in. If you’re anti-cilantro, skip it. (And here’s an anti-cilantro haiku site you might enjoy. Everybody loves to find their peeps.)

Mmmmm… quinoa. It ranks at the top of the list beside rice for usage flexibility, except it’s roughly a bajillion times better for your insulin stability, colon health, and breath. (I just made up the breath part, but I wouldn’t be surprised.)

How to cook quinoa: Soak a cup in hot water for at least 15 minutes. (I know… much of it is sold as “pre-rinsed,” but soaking even for that short period will cause the little tasties to sprout and amps the nutrition that becomes available.) Rinse and put in a pot with 1.5 cups of water. Cover and bring to a boil, immediately reduce to the gentlest of simmers, and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, lid on, for another five. Remove lid and fluff. And… voila! It’s that easy, that quick, and that friggin’ delicious.

We often will add a dash of sesame chili oil and a sprinkle of salt, but that’s driven by personal preference and whatever else shows up on the plate. In the case of our black bean chia bowl, the quinoa was served naked, but at the table, Rick decided the dish wanted a bit of heat, so he added a splash of the mild green Tabasco sauce. I tasted his and then added some to my serving as well.

Serve with carrot fingerlings, pinky side up. Even the steam will “heart” this dish.

 

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

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Louise December 5, 2012 at 5:16 pm

found a bit of info on chia and other seeds
http://blog.fooducate.com/2012/12/03/a-guide-to-edible-seeds/

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rickandkathy December 6, 2012 at 6:48 am

Yup! They’re packed with good stuff!

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Zinc November 30, 2012 at 3:23 pm

How’s your plumbing?….criminy! My mouth is watering too. Put out the cookbook and I’ll be first in line to buy a copy (autographed of course).

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rickandkathy November 30, 2012 at 5:03 pm

Can’t you DO something, Zinc?
Thinking about the cookbook. Meanwhile, we’re just a’cookin’ and a’snappin’. And I’d sign a cranky grizzly’s southern exposure for you if it would make you happy. And then I would run very, very fast.

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Kristie Pham November 30, 2012 at 2:50 pm

This made me hungry!

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rickandkathy November 30, 2012 at 4:59 pm

Eat something!

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Gail November 30, 2012 at 11:58 am

And who says healthy food can’t be awe-inspiring?

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rickandkathy November 30, 2012 at 4:59 pm

Not us. Never.

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kathy p. November 30, 2012 at 10:47 am

I so enjoy your patter — so clever and amusing!! : ) I simmered a deliciously flavored pot of red beans and rice, apple sausage and cilantro last night, but clearly could have reached further bliss with chia and ‘maters too. Next time!

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rickandkathy November 30, 2012 at 4:59 pm

Thanks, Katie P.!

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Sue November 30, 2012 at 9:45 am

Yummy Bean dish! How’s your plumbing?

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rickandkathy November 30, 2012 at 4:57 pm

Plumbing in top notch condition! Thanks for inquiring. The soaking and boiling for 6 hours removes almost all of the “pre-flatulence” badness mentioned in an earlier post on the subject. What remains we embrace for its value as a source of amusement in the long winters here. Did I mention we don’t get TV?
You’re bad, in a good way.

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