I can't help getting excited over new cookbooks, it is an addiction for me. Due to the number I currently have, I try to limit myself a bit but when I saw the recently published The Tropical Vegan Kitchen by Donna Klein, I had to buy it. Featuring recipes that are meat, egg, and dairy free from Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands, it seemed like a perfect way to keep on the eating healthy plan.
As you can see, my first quick run through the book yielded about a dozen recipes I want to try and I will be making some of them over the next few weeks, but I am starting with a basic: Traditional Cuban Black Beans over Rice. With all of the more exciting and exotic recipes in the book, it is strange that I wanted to start with this one but the stomach knows what the stomach wants. I used to make a lot of black beans and rice, it's cheap, filling and full of healthy fiber (especially if you use brown rice) but often the beans were from a can. Lately, I have been cooking more with dried beans; they take longer but are cheaper and have more flavor and texture than their canned counterparts.
Donna Klein says: "Not too spicy, not too sweet, these Cuban black beans live up to the time honored tradition of all-around appeal. Use them as a topping for baked white or sweet potatoes, as a filling for tacos, burritos and quesadillas or as a dip for tortilla chips in lieu of refried beans."Traditional Cuban Black Beans Over Rice
The Tropical Vegan Kitchen by Donna Klein
Makes 8 servings
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion (about 8 ounces), chopped
1 medium green bell pepper (about 6 ounces), chopped
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
5 cups water
1 pound dried black beans, soaked overnight in cold water to cover, and drained
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
2 Tbsp chopped pimentos (optional), drained
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 Tbsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
2 bay leaves
6 cups hot cooked rice
In a medium stock pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring 2 minutes. Add the water, beans, tomato paste, pimentos (if using), vinegar, sugar, salt, cumin, oregano, black pepper, red pepper flakes and bay leaves. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally, or until beans are tender. Discard the bay leaves. Serve warm, over the rice.
Per serving: Cal 478, Protein 18g, Total Fat 8g, Sat Fat 1g, Cholesterol 0mg, Carb 85g, Dietary Fiber 11g, Sodium 575mg.
Notes/Results: I made the recipe as written, except I was out of cider vinegar so I used a coconut vinegar I bought for a Filipino recipe instead. I had the optional pimentos in my pantry so I put them in. The beans took about 2 hours to reach the point I like--tender but not mushy and still slightly firm. I served them over brown rice to up the fiber content and nutritional value and topped it with some chopped cilantro and just a bit of salty, crumbly cotija cheese. They are delicious! As Donna says, the beans are not too spicy or too sweet, they are just right. If you like more spice you could easily up the red pepper flakes or put in some hot sauce.
I made these beans yesterday, when I was sitting out the pouring rain, high-wind warnings and cool weather from the storm front that moved over the islands. The kitchen smelled divine with the pot of beans bubbling away and they were the perfect comfort food on a very windy. cooler than usual day. I will make these again and I look forward to trying and posting more recipes from this cookbook.
Happy weekend! Don't forget Souper Sunday is tomorrow so if you made soup or a soup-like dish and want to be included in the round up tomorrow, let me know. You can find all the Souper Sunday details here.