Cannellini Bean Dip

Makes 3 C

So, remember I said something about minimal cooking?  Well, doing what I can to minimize turning on the stove or oven?  This is another example.  Dip!  Bean dips are such a great way to get a good snack (or sometimes meal…let’s be real about this!) in the middle of the day.  They are also a wonderful appetizer.  I took the opportunity and cooked twice as many beans as I needed because it had been a while since we’d had these and a summer white bean salad had already made an appearance in my dreams.  Of course I dream about food!

Beans and I…we’re good friends.  I’m Colombian and like anyone of Latin origin will attest, beans are part of our everyday and sometimes several parts of our day!  As a vegetarian, I was more than grateful for this.  I relied heavily on various beans for protein, which much like animal protein, builds and repairs body tissue.  They are super blood sugar regulators and thus an excellent choice for anyone with insulin issues.  They’re low in fat and high in vitamins and minerals including calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, folate and other B vitamins.  They are also a wonderful source of dietary fiber.  There are 2 types, insoluble and soluble, and both are critical for our health.  Insoluble fiber does not dissolve so it acts as a sponge, literally “cleaning” up by ushering toxins out.  (That’s why our gut and colon stay healthy!)  Soluble fiber dissolves and becomes gel-like in our gut making us feel full, longer. Overeating, while tempting, is never good.  Quantity destroys quality in anything!  (I might have said that before.)  Anyway, thank you fiber and thank you beans!

For the record, Latinos aren’t the only ones with a bean habit.  Beans and legumes, “one of the earliest and most important cultivated crop, are grown everywhere that people farm”.¹  Indeed, most places I’ve traveled, I’ve run into some kind of bean along the way.  Honestly, I can’t wait to encounter more!

You’ll need:

1 C dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight

1 sprig thyme

1 sprig rosemary

1 1″ piece of kombu

1 bay leaf

2-3 cloves garlic confit*

3 T olive oil (from garlic confit)

1/4 C fresh squeezed lemon juice

To make:

1. Get the beans cooking!  Drain and rinse the beans, then add to a saucepan with water to cover.  Boil over medium-high heat for 10 minutes, skimming the foam that forms.  Reduce heat to medium-low, dd thyme, rosemary, kombu and bay leaf, a pinch of sea salt and partially cover.  Cook for about 45 minutes or until beans are tender.

2. Remove the herbs and kombu from beans, drain and let cool.

3. When cooled, add remaining ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth and creamy.  You may want to adjust the garlic, oil, lemon and salt so play with it until you get it to your liking.  These measurements worked great for me:)

4. Serve with crudite (my go-to choice for a super healthy snack that sometimes turns into lunch) crispy country bread, pita bread or flat bread.  Gluten-free crackers are also delish with this dip!

5. Enjoy!

*The Garlic Confit adds depth to the garlicky flavor.  It’s umami-ish which translates into deliciousness.  However, this dip comes out lovely using fresh, raw garlic as well.  Start with 1-2 cloves and adjust from there;)

¹ Rebecca Wood, The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia

Black Beans with Shredded Chicken and Apple Salsa

Serves 4

I really fell in love with this bean, also known as the turtle bean, when my husband (then boyfriend) and I were in Costa Rica for some time.  (Long story short, we came back home married, much to everyone’s surprise:)  Their ubiquitous “gallo pinto” is served as a side with everything and it is highly addicting!  The versatility of black beans gives them high marks in my kitchen.  They hold up well in veggie burgers and yet can be velvety smooth as soup.

Why eat black beans?  Well, there’s protein and fiber in a magical combination that supports digestive health, blood sugar regulation and cardiovascular health.  Then there are all those antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients…just eat them!  And if you can, do so regularly!

This particular recipe was in Bon Appetit not too long ago.  I deviated from it as usual, but rest assured that whatever variations you bring to the dish will surely be successful.  The stars of this show are the beans and the contrast of the apple salsa, so as long as those are full of love and flavor, this one will be a hit with almost everyone!  Even kiddies! (Vegetarians – seriously, omitting the chicken will not affect how delish this dish is!)

Pura Vida!

You’ll need:
for the rice and beans:
1 C brown rice, soaked in 2C water + 1T lemon juice overnight
1 C dried black beans, soaked overnight (alternatively, you could use 2 cans of organic black beans)
1 1″piece of kombu
1 bay leaf
4-6 C vegetable stock or water
1 large red onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 t cumin seeds, toasted (optional on the toasting)
1/2 t ground coriander

for the chicken:
1 lb chicken (I like to use thighs and legs)

some fresh lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

sprinkling of ground cumin

for the salsa:
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced
2 T cilantro, chopped (or more if you love it!)
2 scallions, finely chopped
juice of 1 lime (or lemon if you don’t have limes)
sea salt to taste

To make:

Preheat oven to 350.

1. Cook the rice- Add a pinch of salt and set on high heat until it reaches a boil. Then reduce to simmer and cover.  It should take about 40 minutes.  (Yes, you are cooking the rice in the same water it soaked in.)
2. Cook the beans- Discard soaking water and rinse beans.  Put beans in a pot with water (or stock), kombu and bay leaf over high heat until it reaches a boil.  Reduce heat to medium and cook until beans are tender.
3. Get the chicken in the oven- Once rinsed and dried, sprinkle with salt (be generous), pepper and some cumin and add lemon juice.  (Sometimes I add a touch of olive oil for good measure.)  Let roast in the oven until done, about 40 minutes depending on cuts used.
4. In a large saute pan, heat olive oil and add onions.  After about 5 minutes, add the garlic, cumin seeds and coriander.  Caramelize until tender and slightly browned.
5. When beans are done, add beans to onion mixture with just enough liquid as you would like.  Over low heat, let cook to allow the onions to soak the beans with flavor.  In the meantime, shred the chicken.
6. To serve- Place rice and beans on plate and top with shredded chicken.  Top that with the apple salsa and serve with extra lime wedges.
7. YUM!

P.S. There are ways to make this seemingly involved dinner easier such as using canned beans and buying a rotisserie chicken.  But to be honest, it takes me about 20-25 minutes to get everything prepped and cooking.  Once it’s on the stove/in the oven, dinner’s pretty much done;)