Black Beans & Quinoa ‘Casserole’

I’ve got a ‘thing’ for black beans lately. Maybe it’s simply because they seem to be in vogue at the moment, but what I keep thinking of is their colour: it’s almost a nutritional fact that the richest, deepest coloured plant foods seem to be the most nutrient dense. Also known as turtle beans, they’re a ridiculously good source of protein, fibre, some vitamins & minerals. So I have a very large jar of them in my pantry. Because I don’t buy tinned products, I don’t even know if you can get these fellas pre-cooked in Australian supermarkets; I mean, I’ve never looked. I prefer to DIY. Y’know, prepare ‘from scratch’.Food Fervour

Because they’re a relatively new to my repertoire, I’m not quite sure what to do with them. Mexican predominantly comes to mind when I’m pondering what to make, but I often just throw them into salads as well. This time however, I wanted warm comfort food …and quinoa. I’d noticed a few black-bean-and-quinoa recipes floating around the net in the past, so I was confident I’d find something I wanted. And I did: three recipes, all quite similar… so I literally flipped between windows/tabs during the cook.

Having previously soaked, then slow cooked (overnight) the black beans, they were now ready to go. (Unfortunately I can’t recall the dry weight I began with, however I was lucky enough to have the exact quantity required for the recipe(s!) ….250gms.

This makes an absolute tonne, so as a single person I got about 4-5 meals out of it… and it tastes great cold so you don’t need to reheat it every time you want some. I should imagine it would freeze well too if you’d prefer to do that.

The ingredients I used were as follows:
a good dollop of EVOO, 1 diced onion, 1-2 finely chopped garlic cloves, ¾ cup (well) rinsed quinoa, 1 teaspoon cumin, ½ teaspoon chili powder, 1½ cups vege stock, black pepper & salt to taste, corn kernels (I used frozen) 250gm pre-soaked & cooked black beans, 200gm baby spinach.

In a large saucepan (over medium heat) add the oil then the onion and garlic, cooking for about 3 minutes or until the onion softens.

Add the quinoa, blending with the oil, onion & garlic, then add the cumin, chili powder, vegetable stock and black pepper. Give it a mix, increase the heat and once it has come to a boil, drop the heat back to low, pop on the lid and let it simmer for 20 minutes. Give it an occasional stir (mainly to loosen anything sticking to the saucepan base).

Finally, add the corn, beans and baby spinach, stirring gently then covering again for about 5-10 minutes …however long it takes to warm the beans, wilt the spinach and thaw the corn (if using frozen, like me).

Food FervourTo serve, use your imagination! You could easily just hoe in as it is, but I like to add more nutrients, so I went with a ‘warm salad’ theme and topped my serve with chopped avocado, fresh chopped tomato and crumbled feta. For a Mexican feel you could substitute my idea with (home made!) guacamole, (homemade!) tomato salsa and grated cheese ….as well as bit of sour cream (oooh! I just realised this would make a delicious vegetarian nachos topping!)

The next day I ate a serve cold, topped with freshly steamed broccoli, more feta (!) and a boiled egg for extra protein (pictured above). Go crazy …and don’t forget to let me know what you create. 😉

 

Sustainable Eating

Let me just say, from the outset, that this may sound weird to most: I just got excited about making beef stock.

food fervourWell, that’s not exactly true. I have thought of jumping on the ‘bone broth’ wagon for a little while now, but only grabbed my grass-fed cow-parts a couple of days ago. Via a recipe on Jo Whitton’s old Quirky Cooking website, I prepared it and left it to simmer on the stove for almost 24 hours. Er, yes, even when I vacated the house & overnight while sleeping… (I know, a bit of a dodgy move) But now I have 3 litres of nutritious, gut-healing broth.

The exciting part is, I feel great knowing I’m using parts of the animal that a vast majority of people waste. Now I’m no saint (because offal & sweetbreads I just will not be able to manage) but considering I don’t usually consume a lot of meat anyway, I feel like I’m “doing my part” for the environment …and the cows. (Ok, so I’m nowhere near as virtuous as the Vegans and Veggos…)

food fervourWhat made me super excited however, was discovering there was more than just a few litres of broth in this process: there was lard. Well, not exactly; having never used it before, I’m not sure what I’ll do with it…

What I meant to say was beef. Slow-cooked (braised) beef, from the stock bones. So not only did I have lots of broth, but also a substantial amount of protein left to eat. Meals for DAYS! That means my $8 for 2 kilos of cow bits has also saved me a fair bit of dosh.

The ready-cooked (falling-off-the-bone, melt-in-your-mouth) meat just needed a ‘theme’ and from the moment I saw & felt its texture, I knew I wanted Mexican. So all I had to do was fry up garlic, onion, spices, add the tomato passata, and some of my fresh broth before adding in the ‘shredded’ meat, to warm & soak up the flavours.

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Mexican Shredded Beef with grated cheddar & tomato guacamole on a bed of baby spinach, cucumber & capsicum

Making a quick guacamole in the meantime, my Mexican Shredded Beef salad dinner was ready in a matter of minutes. (Alright ….discounting the fact that it took nearly 24 hours to cook the meat in the first place….) And I have enough left for two more meals. I think that’s called “value for money”. And maybe also “sustainable eating” 😉