13 Mar Simmered Black Beans
Recipes for Health
This series offers recipes with an eye towards empowering you to cook healthy meals every day. Produce, seasonal and locally grown when possible, and a well-stocked pantry are the linchpins of a good diet, and accordingly, each week’s recipes will revolve around a particular type of produce or a pantry item. This is food that is vibrant and light, full of nutrients but by no means ascetic, fun to cook and a pleasure to eat.
Beans are nature’s health food. They have an exceptionally high fiber content, and they’re a fine source of protein, as well as calcium, iron, folic acid and potassium. Black beans stand out because in that shiny black coating, there are at least eight different flavonoids, which are antioxidants. Called anthocyanins, they’re found in red grapes and red wine, red cabbage and other dark red fruits and vegetables. Black beans also contain small amounts of omega-3 fats, three times as much as other legumes provide.
Any successful dish made with black beans begins with a great pot of beans, sufficiently seasoned and slowly simmered with lots of onion and garlic until the beans are soft pillows suspended in a thick, inky, savory broth. There’s no comparison between that pot of black beans and the black beans that come in a can. Canned beans lack both flavor and nutrients.
Simmered Black Beans
The key to a great pot of black beans is using enough onion, garlic and salt for seasoning, and then cooking the beans for a long time at a slow simmer. In
1 pound black beans, washed and picked over for stones
2 quarts water
1 tablespoon canola oil or extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, plus additional for garnish if desired
Salt, preferably kosher salt, to taste
1. Soak the beans in the water for at least six hours. If they will be soaking for a long time in warm weather, put them in the refrigerator.
2. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven, and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until it begins to soften, about three minutes. Add half the garlic. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about one minute. Add the beans and soaking water. The beans should be covered by at least an inch of water. Add more as necessary, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, and skim off any foam that rises. Cover and simmer one hour.
3. Add the salt, remaining garlic and cilantro. Continue to simmer another hour, until the beans are quite soft and the broth is thick and fragrant. Taste. Is there enough salt? Does it need more garlic? Add if necessary. Let sit overnight in the refrigerator for the best flavor.
Note: If you can get hold of a sprig of fresh epazote, add it to the beans in step 3.
Yield: Serves six
Advance preparation: The cooked beans will keep for three to four days in the refrigerator and will freeze well.
Courtesy NY Times of March 13, 09)