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The Name’s Bean — Black Bean

black beansWe’re talkin’ beans here, dried beans – navy, pea, kidney, garbanzo, etcetera, etcetera. But the queen of them all, the ones that tastes best and actually is the healthiest for us, is the little shiny black bean (aka black turtle beans). Beans are high in fiber and protein, phytochemicals and if nothing else, are filling. For more on health benefits of black beans, go here. black bean nutrition

We love black beans at Chez Siberia because…they taste great all by themselves but you can dress them up with all sorts of spices and then they taste..greater. Your dear Aunty was introduced to them by the DH because part of his family hales from Central America, where the black bean has a focal point in the cuisine. All dried beans can, with the addition of a whole grain, become ‘complete protein’ and with a little bit of clever nutritional legerdemain, black beans can be everything from soup to nuts. We always have at least a half dozen cans of black beans on the shelf because they can be turned into good, cheap stick to your ribs hearty meals – fast, fast, fast.

Basic Black Bean Stuff – can be used all by themselves as a side dish, fillings for tortillas, dips, etc.
One can of canned black beans, rinsed
Olive oil
2 big cloves of garlic, chopped fine.
1 onion small fist size, diced fine.
Chile powder – start with a teaspoon and work up from there if you like things spicy

In a big frying pan, put in a couple of table spoons of oil and put on a low light with the chopped onions and garlic. Cover and stir, cooking until soft.

Add rinsed black beans, stir around and put back on the lid.
If what you want is a side dish, stop here.

If you want a dip, at this point:
Take a potato masher, large fork and some muscle and start to mash them in the pan.
Add water (1/3 to ½ cup should do the trick for one can) and keep mashing until you get the consistency you want. If you want to up the protein (and yes, it also ups the fat too, but), add up to a ½ cup of grated sharp cheese and stir until it’s melted.

If you want filling for tortillas:
Mash up half the beans, add a little water and stir in the rest of the beans.
You might want to add more chili powder and perhaps some chilantro
Fill tortillas with the bean filling, grated cheese (we like cheddar), sautéed onions and peppers.

If you want to do enchiladas:
Do filling for tortillas, line up in a baking dish. Cover with:
Enchilada sauce (commercial or make your own here Easy Enchilada Sauce) or
1 large can of crushed tomatoes either by itself or combined with any or all of the a couple of teaspoons of the following: chili powder, cumin, chilantro, oregano.

Sprinkle more grated cheese on the top and back for 30 min. at 375 degrees.

And here’s the surprise:
Believe it or not, black beans can be used in desserts too. When I was thinking about this, I remembered having Japanese sweets made with what they called ‘red bean paste’ and wondered if black beans had been used for desserts. I have not tried this but the reviewer said it was awesome. Not that I am of the ‘add dried protein to all the sweets to rationalize eating them’ group (actually Aunt Toby’s mom, The Grandma, used to do this and was the queen of adding things like dried milk and soy flour to baked goods. The whole ‘Cornell Bread Book’ movement is based on the position that there are certain people on this earth who are going to eat nothing but baked goods no matter what you do, so you might as well make sure that there is some protein in it. The only problem with this position is this: there is a certain point where the ‘beany-ness’ takes over, so a light hand is advised), but making something that carries the additional benefits of higher fiber, high protein, vitamins, minerals, and anti-inflammatory chemicals is, as Martha Whatshername says, ‘a good thing’.

Amazing Black Bean Brownies (courtesy of Black Bean Brownies)

(this is Aunt Toby here – Before you get started with this, take a look at this recipe – there is NO flour of any sort in this. They are depending on three things to hold this stuff together: cooked black beans, a granulated coffee substitute or dried instant coffee and chopped up walnuts, bound together with eggs. If you don’t have or don’t want to use coffee or coffee substitute, you will need another dried substance to take up the slack here – it’s only ¼ cup so you could use anything from various flours, bran, etc. The other thing is that if you don’t have/want to use nectar or honey, you have a liquid issue. You can use a dry substance such as sugar to sweeten with, but you will need to put liquid back in. I’ll experiment and report back)

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups soft-cooked black beans, drained well (reviewers note: canned is fine – I’d rinse them well)
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ cup (granulated) natural coffee substitute (or dried instant coffee, for gluten sensitive)
¼ teaspoon sea salt
4 large eggs
1½ cups light agave nectar – you can substitute honey 1 for 1 with this. If you choose honey, use something like clover which basically doesn’t have a strong flavor.
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line an 11- by 18-inch (rimmed) baking pan (hs note: or jellyroll pan) with parchment paper and lightly oil with canola oil spray.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a glass bowl in the microwave for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on high. Stir with a spoon to melt the chocolate completely. Place the beans, 1/2 cup of the walnuts, the vanilla extract, and a couple of spoonfuls of the melted chocolate mixture into the bowl of a food processor. Blend about 2 minutes, or until smooth. The batter should be thick and the beans smooth. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the remaining 1/2 cup walnuts, remaining melted chocolate mixture, coffee substitute, and salt. Mix well and set aside.

In a separate bowl, with an electric mixer beat the eggs until light and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the agave nectar and beat well. Set aside.

Add the bean/chocolate mixture to the coffee/chocolate mixture. Stir until blended well.

Add the egg mixture, reserving about 1/2 cup. Mix well. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Using an electric mixer, beat the remaining 1/2 cup egg mixture until light and fluffy. Drizzle over the brownie batter. Use a wooden toothpick to pull the egg mixture through the batter, creating a marbled effect. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the brownies are set. Let cool in the pan completely before cutting into squares. (They will be soft until refrigerated.)
Makes 45 (2-inch) brownies.

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  1. kathleen says:

    I love black beans. I make black bean soup as often as the soup police here will let me. They also make great burrito filling and salads as well. I’m not so sure about the brownies though 🙂

  2. Toby Wollin says:

    I agree it’s sort of a leap of culinary faith, but I have had Japanese sweets made with red bean paste and although they are definitely ‘different’ than what we are used to in terms of ‘dessert’ (which is all based on flour, white sugar/honey/some other sweetener, eggs, etc.), it was definitely good. And for folks who have gluten sensitivities (and a lot of people have this and do not know it because they don’t have the really bad symptoms of celiac disease), having something like this as a treat is huge. Another thing is this – it’s low in terms of glycemic index – between the agave nectar (which is relatively low in terms of GI) plus the huge protein and fiber balancing effects from the beans – I’m definitely going to try this.

  3. cidell says:

    How funny is our timing on these posts?! My roommate is from Gautamala and she’ll make black beans for breakfast. It’s a whole new way to think about food.

  4. Aunt Toby says:

    It’s really important to think about particular food items in terms of what they bring to the table (so to speak) – with beans, especially black beans, it’s not only flavor, it’s fiber and protein and a lot of vitamins and minerals. People tend to think about meals as having a certain appearance in this country, which is why ‘meat, potato and veg’ is such a mainstay for dinner, when a nice veggie omelet would be even better. It’s important to remember what we need and when we need it – we really should be eating very lightly for the evening meal and much heavier earlier in the day because that is when we are theoretically more active and need more of the nutrients. But black beans are fantastic –

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