Posts Tagged ‘black beans’

Fresh Zucchini & Corn

Monday, June 14th, 2010

I love versatile recipes. Ones that can be used throughout the year – that are appropriate for gray, rainy days as well as warmer, sunny ones. For the past weeks, until just a few days ago, it’s been grim here in Seattle. Endlessly wet. What seemed like a record-breaking number of back-to-back rain-filled days. A warm, soothing casserole seemed in order, so I whipped up some Zucchini, Corn & Black Bean Enchiladas. And I was all ready to write about them this weekend when, lo and behold, the sun returned. Spring has arrived – just in time for summer. No complaints here – but it feels improper to be writing about steaming casseroles today. So I am thrilled that the recipe I was intending on sharing is so adaptable.

Zucchini and corn are coming into their prime. Though Seattlites really need to wait until July for the locally grown variety, both are becoming more abundant, and affordable, at the grocery store. And I always equate my first taste of sweet, fresh corn with the true beginning of summer. It’s tough to beat right off the cob, but I love incorporating it into salads and other dishes. And this recipe is no exception. The sweet, crisp burst of the kernels serve as a perfect complement to the soft, savory mouthful of the zucchini and black beans.  This is a recipe in which I would have to insist that fresh corn is used – frozen just won’t cut it I’m afraid.

Back to the versatility aspect. As I mentioned, the main filling can be used in a delicious casserole or individual enchiladas. But on days like today, when it seems a shame to turn on the oven, scooping the mixture into slightly warmed corn tortillas is an excellent alternative. Top it with a dusting of queso fresco, a few sprigs of fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime and you’ve got an amazingly tasty, and healthy, summertime soft taco.

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Zucchini, Corn & Black Bean Filling

 Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 medium zucchini, diced into small cubes
  • 2 large ears of corn
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 small can diced green chilies
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 small bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime

Instructions

Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add diced onion and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add minced garlic and continue to cook for about 3 minutes – until soft. Add zucchini and sauté with onion and garlic for another 3-4 minutes. Add the cumin, chili powder, garlic salt and crushed red pepper. Continue to cook over low heat for approximately 5 minutes.

Add the black beans and diced green chilies and mix thoroughly.

Husk the corn and remove all the kernels by cutting down the sides of the cobs. Add the kernels to the zucchini and black bean mixture. Turn off heat and fold in the chopped cilantro and lime zest and juice. If there is a lot of liquid, continue to cook on low heat for about 5 minutes – allowing most of the liquid to evaporate.

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Enchilada Casserole

You can easily an enchilada casserole by using the Zucchini, Corn & Black Bean mixture above and following a few simple steps:

Ingredients

  • Zucchini, Corn & Black Bean mixture
  • 1 19-ounce can enchilada sauce
  • 10 medium corn tortillas
  • Vegetable oil spray
  • 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese

Instructions

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray the bottom of a 9×13 glass casserole pan with cooking spray. Spoon in about 1/3 cup of enchilada sauce and coat the bottom of the pan. Layer two whole tortillas and cut an additional tortilla and fit it in so the bottom of the pan is covered. Spoon 1/2 the Zucchini, Corn & Black Bean mixture over the tortillas. Drizzle another 1/2 cup of sauce over the top. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup of the cheese. Layer another two whole tortillas and cut an additional tortilla to fit in. Spoon over the remaining Mixture. Cover with remaining tortillas and pour remaining sauce over to cover well. Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top.

Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15-20 minutes, or until bubbling slightly.

Top with sour cream and fresh cilantro (if using).

Spontaneity, Black Beans & Bliss

Monday, April 26th, 2010

I originally intended to write about salad dressings for this week’s post. They are one of my specialties – balsamic , citrus, tarragon and rosemary-infused.  And I will write more about various varieties in the not-too-distant future. But I started cooking this past week in anticipation of this blog post and I got a little off track… I began with one of my favorite salad dressings – Lime, Pepita & Cilantro. It’s something I concocted a few years ago and I love its tangy, highly flavored punch. So I whipped up a batch to toss onto thinly sliced cabbage, as I usually do. Then I got to thinking…

I used to pair this Mexican-influenced slaw with grilled halibut for zesty soft tacos. And that is still a delicious pairing. But I’m a vegetarian today so thought I’d heat up some black beans. Then I had a crazy idea. Why not make them from scratch? Something I had never done. Too much trouble, I had thought. How very, very wrong I was! Sure, it takes some forethought. But I’m a meal planner, after all.

So I soaked the beans according to the package – choosing the “quick soak” method because I am, at my core, impatient. Following a quick boil and an hour-long soak I drained and rinsed them and returned them to medium heat with some fresh water and let them simmer for a few hours while I went about my day. When they started to soften I added a small can of diced green chilies and a few tablespoons of cumin along with a teaspoon of red pepper flakes. The cooking continued and what resulted was a pot of black beans with an earthy aroma, a soft bite and a taste so far superior to canned beans that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to go back. I made the entire bag and was able to freeze half so I have some waiting in my freezer for another day. Bliss.

Once the beans were done I slathered them on a tortilla and topped it with my cabbage, carrot and onion slaw mixture (see recipe below) and a dusting of crumbled cotija cheese (jack cheese would do just as well) and sat down to a healthy, fresh and terribly inexpensive meal.

What I love about how this transpired is that it wasn’t planned. Amazing things can happen in your kitchen if you follow your instincts and listen to your stomach and feel empowered to try new things. What resulted for me this week is a new, favorite dish.  Something I will prepare again and again. I hope you will try it. Or at least let yourself go to explore new possibilities and expand your culinary horizons.  ¡Buen apetito!

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 Tri-Colored Slaw with Lime, Pepita & Cilantro Salad Dressing

Ingredients

  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup pepitas – AKA pumpkin seeds (roasted and salted)
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Zest and juice of two limes
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 head red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 head green cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup grated carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

Instructions

Combine the garlic and pepitas in a blender or Cuisinart or the bowl section of a submersion blender. (A quick note about these tools – they are indispensible. I use them for blending dressing, chopping nuts and garlic, blending hot soups, whisking sauces. The uses are endless. A great investment, in my opinion. If you’re not familiar with these amazing utensils – read more at this link.)

Once the garlic and pepitas have formed a paste, add the water, lime juice and zest and honey. Mix until well blended. Add half the cilantro and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper as needed.

Mix the dressing with the cabbages, carrots, onion and remaining cilantro. It’s best to let this mixture sit for about a half hour before serving.

As noted, serve alongside any kind of soft taco you like. Or it can be served as a separate salad. The dressing can also be used to make a salad entrée – served over lettuce, corn, red peppers, and whatever protein you prefer.