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Down-East Baked Beans are flavored with molasses, dark rum, mustard powder and salt pork.

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In winter, there’s nothing more comforting than a warm, meltingly tender bowl of beans, whether as soup, side dish or cassoulet. Here, Tuscan beans with olive oil and aromatics.

Photos by Juli Leonard • Raleigh News & Observer ,

Recipes: Down-East Baked Beans, Tuscan Beans With Olive Oil and more

  • January 23, 2013 - 4:18 PM

DOWN-EAST BAKED BEANS

Serves 4 to 6.

Note: Adapted from “Serious Pig: An American Cook in Search of His Roots,” by John Thorne with Matt Lewis Thorne.

• 1 lb. (2 c.) Maine yellow-eye beans (or Great Northern or white navy beans)

• 1/4 lb. salt pork

• 1/2 c. dark, full-flavored molasses

• 2 tbsp. dark rum

• 1 tsp. mustard powder

• Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Pick over the beans, removing any debris or pebbles. Place beans in a nonreactive pot, cover by 3 inches of water and let sit for 6 to 8 hours.

Place beans and what remains of soaking liquid into a large pot, adding more water if necessary to ensure the beans are covered. Bring this to a simmer, and after 15 minutes, check every 5 minutes until a sharp knife will split the skin of a bean. Then drain the beans into a colander, sitting on top of a bowl to catch the cooking liquid. Return cooking liquid to pot and let simmer on the stove while preparing beans for baking.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Cut salt pork into bite-sized pieces and pour boiling water over to cover well. Drain after several minutes, discarding the liquid. Mix the salt-pork pieces into the prepared beans and pour them together in a 2-quart bean pot. Stir in the molasses and rum. Dissolve mustard powder in a bit of water and mix this in well. Add seasoning to taste, starting with about 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Pour over just enough of the simmering bean liquid to be visible through the beans.

Turn off the heat under the pot of simmering bean liquid. Reserve to add to baked beans as needed.

Cover baked bean pot and put in the oven. Bake beans for 5 hours, tasting occasionally, noting texture and seasoning, and adding more of the remaining bean liquid (or else water) as necessary. When beans are soft and succulent, stir them well, uncover and bake 1/2 hour more to thicken the liquid into sauce.

Nutrition information per each of 6 servings:

Calories 450 Fat 12 g Sodium 167 mg Saturated fat 4 g

Carbohydrates 68 g Calcium 230 mg

Protein 19 g Cholesterol 12 mg Dietary fiber 12 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 3 bread/starch, 1½ other carb, 1½ lean meat, 1½ fat.

 

TUSCAN BEANS WITH OLIVE OIL AND AROMATICS

Serves 6 to 8.

Note: This dish could be a main dish with bread and a salad or a side dish to grilled chicken breast, pork chop or steak. From “The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook,” by Nancy Harmon Jenkins.

• 1 1/2 c. dried white beans, such as cannellini, soaked overnight and drained

• Any or all of the following aromatics: 1 small onion, quartered; 1 garlic clove, lightly crushed; 4 or 5 sage leaves; 2 bay leaves; 2 bay leaves; 12 black peppercorns; 1 small dried hot red chile

• 1/4 c. best-quality extra-virgin olive oil

• Sea salt and freshly ground black or white pepper

• 1 tbsp. minced flat-leaf parsley

Directions

Set beans in a saucepan and add 3 1/2 cups water and any or all of the aromatics. Do not add salt. Bring water to a boil, turn the heat down, cover the beans and simmer gently for 30 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, adding boiling water from time to time if necessary to keep the beans from scorching. Be attentive; if the water gets low, the beans will scorch very quickly. Cooking time depends on the size and age of the beans, which is hard to assess. At the end of 30 minutes, start testing the beans to judge how tender they are and continue testing periodically until the beans are done. They should be very tender but not falling apart.

Remove beans from the heat and drain them, reserving the cooking liquid. Discard the aromatics used in cooking the beans. At this point, if you wish, remove about 1/2 to 3/4 cup cooked beans and crush them gently, using a fork, in about 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking liquid. Then stir in the crushed beans with the whole cooked beans. Add more cooking liquid if you wish to reach the desired consistency. Or leave all the beans whole and add 1/2 cup or more of the reserved cooking liquid.

Add olive oil to the beans while hot and stir to coat the beans well. Dress them with one of the combinations or devise your own:

• 1 garlic clove, minced, and 6 green onions, both white and green parts, sliced on the diagonal

• A little chopped raw onion and finely slivered fresh green chiles.

• Juice of 1/2 lemon along with 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin and chopped fresh hot red chiles or a pinch of hot red pepper flakes.

• Finely minced fresh green herbs, such as basil, dill, fennel tops, chervil, sage, lovage, borage or others.

Taste and add salt and freshly ground black or white pepper after dressing the beans. Whatever the flavors or garnishes, however, the beans should be sprinkled with minced parsley before serving. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Nutrition information per each of 8 servings:

Calories 180 Fat 7 g Sodium 7 mg Saturated fat 1 g

Carbohydrates 23 g Calcium 87 mg

Protein 9 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 6 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1½ bread/starch, ½ lean meat, 1 fat.

 

 

CHICKPEA STEW

Serves 4.

Note:  This Turkish dish has a lot of ingredients but it’s easy to cook and delicious. Drained yogurt is made by draining the yogurt in a cheesecloth-lined strainer for several hours. This dish keeps well for a few days in the refrigerator and benefits from being made ahead. From “Mediterranean Harvest: Vegetarian Recipes From the World’s Healthiest Cuisine,” by Martha Rose Shulman.

• 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

• 2 onions, sliced

• 4 garlic cloves, chopped

• 1 tsp. cumin seeds, crushed

• 1 tsp. fennel seeds, crushed

• 1 tsp. brown sugar or 2 tsp. pomegranate molasses

• 1 tbsp. white wine vinegar, sherry vinegar, or lemon juice

• 4 tomatoes, peeled and chopped; or 1 (14-oz.) can of tomatoes, drained and chopped

• 1/2 tsp. Aleppo pepper, or 1/4 tsp. sweet paprika and 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

• 4 oz. leaf spinach

• 1/2 lb. dried chickpeas, cooked and drained; or 2 (15-oz.) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained

• Salt

• 1/4 c. chopped fresh herbs, preferably a mix of flat-leaf parsley, dill and mint

• Lemon wedges

• Drained yogurt (see Note)

Directions

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and add onions. Cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes, and add garlic, cumin and fennel seeds. Cook until onion has colored slightly, 5 to 8 minutes. Add sugar and stir together for a minute, then stir in the vinegar, tomatoes and Aleppo pepper or substitutions. Cook, stirring, until the tomatoes have cooked down a bit, about 10 minutes.

Stir in spinach, chickpeas and about 1 teaspoon salt. Add enough water so the dish can simmer. Simmer uncovered over medium heat, stirring often, about 20 to 25 minutes. The stew should be saucy but not watery. Add salt to taste and stir in the herbs. Serve with lemon wedges and yogurt.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 320 Fat 10 g Sodium 630 mg Saturated fat 1 g

Carbohydrates 46 g Calcium 136 mg

Protein 13 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 13 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 3 bread/starch, ½ lean meat, 1½ fat.

 

 

CARIBBEAN BLACK BEAN SOUP WITH ROASTED GARLIC AND TOMATOES

Serves 6 to 8.

Note: Follow general instructions on cooking the black beans, reserving beans and broth to add to this soup. Adapted from “Heirloom Beans,” by Steve Sandoz and Vanessa Barrington.

• 6 garlic cloves, unpeeled

• Olive oil

• 4 whole fresh or canned plum tomatoes, with juice

• Salt

• 1/2 lb. black valentine or black beans with cooking liquid

• 1/2 medium yellow or white onion, chopped

• 1 jalapeño, chopped

• 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped

• 1 tsp. cumin seeds, toasted and ground

• 1 tsp. dried oregano

• 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

• 2 c. chicken or vegetable broth

• Freshly ground pepper

• Sour cream, optional garnish

• 1 avocado, pitted, peeled and sliced, optional garnish

• Fresh cilantro leaves, optional garnish

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Put garlic cloves on a sheet of aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil and wrap in foil. Put tomatoes in a baking dish. (If using fresh tomatoes, cut them in half and put them cut side down in the dish.) Season with salt and drizzle with olive oil. Roast the tomatoes and garlic in the oven until soft, fragrant and brown, about 20 minutes.

Place beans and their broth in a soup pot and warm over low heat.

Warm 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, chile and carrot and saute until fragrant and beginning to caramelize, about 10 minutes.

Add onion mixture, cumin, oregano, cayenne and chicken or vegetable broth to the beans.

Peel roasted garlic cloves. Chop garlic cloves and tomatoes coarsely and add to the beans. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring soup to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook till the vegetables are soft and the flavors are blended, about 15 minutes. Let soup cool slightly.

Transfer about half the soup to a blender. Blend until smooth. Return to the soup to the pot, stir and adjust the seasoning.

Ladle soup into warm bowls and garnish with sour cream, avocado slices and cilantro, if desired.

Nutrition information per each of 8 servings:

Calories 124 Fat 2 g Sodium 220 mg Saturated fat 0 g

Carbohydrates 20 g Calcium 37 mg

Protein 7 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 7 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1½ bread/starch, ½ lean meat.

 

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