For this month’s Kitchen Bootcamp, Jen challenged us to work with legumes or grains. I was pleased this challenge did not come earlier in the year because after our trip to Mexico at Christmas, we were a little “beaned out” – having eaten some form of beans with pretty much every meal. They really are very versatile and I don’t cook enough with them so was happy to experiment with a dish inspired by our trip.
Take a look at these pictures from our trip (sorry – a few poor quality iPhone pics there…) and see if you can find something they all have in common…
Yup, there’s always a little side of some form of mashed beans, usually topped with queso fresco and sometimes with an accompanying tortilla chip. I was a big fan of this – it’s a nice, tasty way to build some extra protein into a meal (though you will also notice the abundance of eggs – another food we didn’t eat for a month after the trip!! Protein overload!).
I was excited to try to recreate this little side dish for this month’s Kitchen Bootcamp and was even more excited to find a recipe for a black bean mash on page 819 of The Professional Chef. As you can see from the pictures above, black beans were served much less often than say, fava beans, so I wanted to recreate something with a lighter bean. I found myself with a large amount of white navy beans, leftover from my New Mexican green chile stew so I soaked some of these overnight and got to work, tasting along the way to make sure it was on track..
- 1lb (454g) dried white (navy) beans
- water (or chicken stock) as needed
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons oregano powder
- salt, to taste
- 2 shallots, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- crumbled feta and cilantro, to serve
- Rinse the beans well in cold water.
- Soak the beans overnight.
- Drain and rinse the beans.
- Place the beans in the stock or water combined with the oregano powder and bay leaf (there should be a couple of inches more water than beans)and simmer, uncovered, for about 60-90 minutes or until the beans are tender enough to mash against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon. Most of the water should have evaporated. If you have more than about ¼ cup, drain the excess. Remove the bay leaf and remove beans from heat.
- Add the minced shallots, garlic, cumin, cilantro and oregano and, using an immersion blender, mash until the mixture is as smooth or as lumpy as you like it. I like to keep it a bit lumpy - prefer the rustic look.
- Mix the olive oil into the beans. This is not a creamy mixture - it's more dry - so if you are serving it a few days later a drop of olive oil should be mixed in to moisten it a little.
- Sprinkle with a little crumbled feta and cilantro and serve as you wish - with breakfast scrambled eggs, with tortilla chips as a dip, in a quesadilla…. The possibilities are endless!
I served this to Neil for his breakfast yesterday with huevos revueltos con tocino y tortillas (scrambled eggs and bacon with corn tortillas) but since he had been up all of 5 minutes, he found it “too hard” to eat before a coffee. I say that if someone serves you breakfast as you are seated at the breakfast table, you shouldn’t complain. He did say thank you though
** Don’t forget to check out next month’s “Forever Nigella” event – I’m hosting a street party in honour of the Royal Wedding and would love for you to join me. All the details here.