For centuries, many cultures have survived on beans with rice, or beans with tortillas or with pasta. Beans are a perfect source of protein, fiber-packed with vitamins and minerals. Whether you are soaking garbanzo beans for a minestrone or pasta e fagioli, black or pinto beans to accompany rice or tortillas, or lentils for dal with naan, the bean is as versatile as it is internationally delicious. For meatless Monday I am soaking beans tonight so that I can pop them in the pressure cooker tomorrow and have them ready to eat in less than an hour. I am sharing an excerpt from Bon Appetite Magazine on ideas to spice up beans from 5 great chefs written by Marian Bull. One of the ideas is from James Beard winner, Ashley Christensen, whose family resides in the North Fork! Try one of these ideas for your Meatless Monday dinner with beans.
Ashley Christensen, Poole’s Diner, Death & Taxes, AC Restaurants-Raleigh, North Carolina
Add turkey confit.
This past year, Christensen hosted roughly 20 guests at her house for Thanksgiving, and confited the legs of three turkeys in duck fat; the leftovers are still in the freezer, and she maintains that the dark meat confit is “so rich and luxurious, it can really turn any pantry item into something super delicious in very little time.” Make a note to definitely do this next Thanksgiving.
Michael Solomonov, Zahav Restaurant-Phildelphia, Pennsylvania
“Definitely fermented harif, which is the hebrew word for harissa that literally means “spicy.” Harif brings that good punch of heat, making it the perfect compliment to dishes that are more mild in flavor—like a dish of rice and beans. Harif is a combination of some of my favorite spices that are essential to my cooking. It’s a blend of sharp and peppery coriander, caraway, and cumin. Fermenting the harif actually brings out the garlic notes, which makes it even more delicious. At Zahav, we coat our eggplant in harif before it’s grilled al ha’esh. The smoke from the coals combined with the nuances of spicy harif tastes to me, like Israel.”
Amanda Cohen, Dirt Candy Restaurant-New York, NY
Blend up a gremolata.
“I’d make some sort of gremolata, some sort of parsley-garlic-chili pepper thing. Just really fast easy get it in the blender or the food processor or just pour it on top. Because it’s rice and beans, you need something peppy in there. I’d probably add a lot of Thai green chile peppers. So I’d cut some of those, add olive oil, and then because it’s so green, instead of lemon I would actually do lime. And then really whatever herbs we have—I love cilantro and parsley. We don’t do a lot of rice at the restaurant, but it’s what we eat a lot for family meal!”
Chandra Gilbert, Gracias Madre Restaurant-San Francisco, California
Make a Spicy fruit Salsa
“I recommend adding a fresh mango avocado salsa made with red onion, cilantro, jalapeño, lime juice, and a pinch of salt to brighten up the dish. Because the beans and rice have so much earthiness, the fruit and acidity will lighten the plate. A margarita is always great, as well.”
Roy Choi, Koji BBQ Restaurant-Torrance, California
Choi’s answer is simple, and we love him for it: “Melted butter. Because it’s buttah, baby.” Bonus: you don’t even have to go grocery shopping.