It was purely coincidence that I read another food blog about this being bean week. I was first because I started my New Year frugal cooking by restocking my cooked bean supply. All it took was a couple of $0.99 bags of dried beans, my Insta-pot and some timing. I try and soak my beans so it does not even take the 20-25 minute the Insta-pot says it will. I was doing a lot of errands on Saturday, running in and out of the house, so I put beans in the pot, set them to cook and left my partner to hear the tell-tale whistle of the steam venting each time a batch was done. Every time I came home from an errand, I would simply vent the pot if still needed, remove and drain the beans, wash out the pot and start all over again. By the end of the day, I had multiple bags of cooked black, kidney, white and pinto beans along with chickpeas which happen to be my absolute favorite. I love them for their nutty taste and firmer texture. They are also versatile, and I make a sandwich mix redolent of tuna salad that is frankly as delicious as it is cheap. I needed to replenish my beans because my partner had a hankering for my cowboy chili and we were gasp, down to just one container in the freezer. He was panicking so come late afternoon, I took all the remaining bags of beans (black, kidney and pinto) and dumped them into the slow cooker to make chili. By bedtime the chili was cooked, cooled and stored; a family chili shortage mercifully averted. And with my bean supply shored up, I am now free to make whatever bean forward dish I fancy. Another plus is that I do not have to contend with the usual high salt content found in canned beans or that frankly yucky thick mystery liquid that the beans usually come in.
Bob’s Cowboy Chili (or what my partner calls Crack in a Bowl because it is so addictive)
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped
1 large sweet red pepper diced or 8 small red, yellow and orange peppers diced
1 lb each ground beef and ground pork
1 and 1/2 cups to 2 cups each: cooked black, kidney and pinto beans
2 – 3 cups tomato sauce or chopped tomatoes in their own sauce depending on how thick you want your chili
1 cup water, give or take (swirl the water inside the tomato cans to get the rest of the sauce)
1 tablespoon each of cumin, pepper, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder and paprika
1 teaspoon Cyanne pepper and salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
Heat olive oil in a skillet and fry up the onion and sweet peppers until soft. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two. Remove the onion, garlic and peppers and add the ground beef and pork to the pan and cook until browned. Drain the meats well and add the onion mix and meats to a slow cooker. Mix in the beans, tomato sauce and water. Stir in the seasonings and cook the chili on low for 6 hours minimum, tasting for any seasoning corrections you may want to make. Cool and store in the freezer in airtight containers or serve hot with diced onion, grated cheese and sour cream as toppings.
Chickpea Sandwich Salad
2 cups cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup raw onion, any kind, diced finely (I like red onions for this but any sort you have on hand will do)
1/3 cup celery, finely diced
1/3 cup sweet pickles, diced finely
1-2 hard boiled eggs diced
3/4 cup or so good mayo
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix all the ingredients and then using a potato masher, smash the chickpeas leaving some whole for texture. Serve on toasted bread of your choice like you would tuna fish salad. I sometimes toss in finely diced hot peppers because I love this dish spicy but you can omit the hot peppers if you prefer a milder version.
White Bean Dip
2 and a 1/2 cups cooked white beans
2 cloves garlic, raw
1/2 cup pesto, homemade or store bought (optional)
1/2 cup each plain yogurt and mayo
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 cup finely diced raw red onion
Fist full of raw spinach or Swiss chard, whatever you have on hand will work
1/3 cup parsley
Place white beans in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Add all other ingredients and blend until smooth, adding a bit of cold water if necessary. Use as a dip with raw vegetables.