Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Beans, and more beans

I met with a nutritionist in early December – not exactly the best time of year to embark upon a major lifestyle change. But now that the holidays and new year have come and gone, I’ve been trying to make some of the changes in my diet she suggested. My cholesterol is a little high and I would very much like to avoid drugs, so she suggested I eat a half cup of beans several times a week. I figured that this would be fairly easy to do – and I was right.

We have a number of bean entree that we cook occasionally – red beans and rice, black bean soup, and our pork chili with black beans are all big family favorites. In the past week or so, we’ve tried a couple of new recipes that have beans as a major component: Pasta e Faglioli and Chunky Vegetarian Chili. I also made a batch of curried butternut squash to have as a snack on days when beans were not otherwise on the menu.

My niece over at My 1st word was chocolate wrote about making butternut squash hummus over a year ago and I’ve been wanting to make it ever since. One of our snowed-in days last week provided the perfect opportunity. The first time I made hummus, I followed this Mark Bittman recipe. It is a great basic recipe, but ultimately the cook has to decide what amount of lemon, tahini, garlic and cumin works for her. I perused several butternut squash recipes, but ultimately decided that was the philosophy to follow. I had not planned on making curried hummus, but I discovered that I was out of cumin so I chose the Murchi curry powder that has turmeric as the first ingredient and cumin as the second. I roasted a medium-size butternut squash for about an hour at 400 degrees, then combined that in the food processor with a can of chick peas, 3-4 cloves of garlic, the juice of a lemon and a half, and a couple of tablespoons each of tahini, curry powder, and olive oil. It’s all about seasoning to taste!

My food group is having a Northern Italian dinner in a few weeks, and I am in charge of making a soup. The hostess suggested Pasta e Fagioli so we made this Giada De Laurentis recipe. Pasta e Fagioli is a pasta and bean soup. The recipes I looked at had varying amounts of pork: pancetta, bacon, and Italian sausage. The only big change that we made to Giada’s version was to substitute an ounce of chopped prosciutto for the pancetta the grocery didn’t have. DH served the soup with croutons he made from some leftover foccocia. It was a great dinner for a cold night, but I think a little heavy for a first course in a multiple course Italian dinner.

For our Meatless Monday dinner this week, we made this Chunky Vegetarian Chili, chock full of beans. We doubled the spices and cut the bell pepper in half since it tends not to agree with me. It was a quick dinner for a snowy Monday night, but I think I would like to have a few more vegetables (zucchini? eggplant?) in my vegetarian chili.

I think my nutritionist will be impressed.


mesh said...

While not technically a bean, I really like this recipe using chickpeas...



mesh said...

PS. Love the photo of the Optis!

Lynn said...

Thanks -- that sounds good! I am making something similar tonight with cannellini beans -- I add some garlic and basil or mint, and leave out the cheese. You can also add black olive and/ or shallot.