Saturday, October 21, 2006

Ten Minute Black Beans (with another half-hour of enhancement)

Today is my sister's birthday. Happy Birthday Anne!

I don't believe I've ever shared my sister's wonderful Ten Minute Black Beans with Tomatoes and Cilantro recipe with you, and today seems like an appropriate time. It's quick, easy, and super delicious. The onions, while cooked, are still crunchy and the flavors all stay distinct, rather than blending together the way they do when you cook something for a longer time. It's excellent with brown rice.

Everyone I have shared this recipe with has loved it and makes it regularly. The only ingredient I don't always have on hand is cilantro, and I often do have that. It's a super handy dish to make when I need something for work lunches and don't have much time. I made these Thursday night when I got home from the knit shop, and even with the prep time it takes less than half an hour to make.

And now for the enhancement . . . I've mentioned that we're all on Weight Watchers at work, right? Generally, it's not changing my eating habits too much, except that I have to be a little more vigilant about how much oil I'm eating, and on the core plan I'm only allowed to have brown rice, whole wheat pasta or potatoes once a day (without having to count them). Well, I've had brown rice with the last couple of dishes I've made and I want to have some whole wheat pasta but I don't want to have to count it, and for that to happen I have to stop making brown rice.

But as good as these beans are, they really need something to go with them, and I was hard-pressed to think what could be better than, or even as good as, brown rice with beans.

And then I remembered polenta. Bingo! Black beans and polenta seem made for each other, and I knew that would work out beautifully. And this morning I made salsa with most of the rest of the serrano peppers Nicole gave me. I wanted to put that on the beans, but it seemed a little redundant, as the beans have pretty much the same ingredients in them as the salsa, so I needed something to keep them separate so the slightly different flavors of each would come through.

And I had just the thing:

Presenting Ten-Minute Black Beans on Polenta with Yogurt and Salsa. Sour cream would work just as well (and probably taste better), but this was mighty tasty and much healthier.

And only added about half an hour more to the process.
Ten Minute Black Beans with Tomatoes and Cilantro

1-1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 cups cooked black beans, or 2 14.5-oz. cans rinsed and drained
1 serrano or jalapeno pepper, chopped
1 14-oz. can diced stewed tomatoes
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

Heat oil in small skillet or saucepan over moderately high heat. Add onions, garlic and pepper and saute, stirring, until onion is almost translucent but still firm, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring frequently, 2 minutes more.

Add black beans and salt and stir to combine. Cover and cook until beans are heated through, approximately 2 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in the cilantro.

Serve over polenta topped with sour cream or yogurt and salsa.

Adapted from The Brilliant Bean Cookbook, by Sally and Martin Stone (Bantam Books, 1988)

Serves 4.

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