Sunday, February 22, 2009

Black Beans with Okra and Cumin

I'm about to share a fifth, main meal idea prepared from items on the Feb 5th grocery list.

I've been mentioning that list in nearly every post of late. My intention is to stress how easy it is to create delicious, colorful and nutritious meals from a shopping list of groceries purchased for around $60.

I'll also mention that it's Sunday, and my fridge is almost empty. By the end of the week, which is Sunday for me, I'm out of groceries because I'll have cooked and eaten almost everything I purchased the week before.

When you grocery shop from a list that you've created by planning ahead and approximating the number of meals you'll be eating at home for the week, and then if you use groceries purchased from your list to prepare the week's meals, and then if you eat those meals and use leftovers to prepare additional meals, by the end of the week there's a very good chance that you'll have nothing left in your fridge too!

But just because my fridge is empty doesn't mean I have nothing in my cupboards and the freezer. During the winter months, I often pick up a couple packs of organic frozen vegetables to keep in the freezer.

Corn, okra, edamame, spinach, peas etc., I like to have a selection on hand for soups and casseroles. Additionally, I like to have dry goods in my pantry such as beans, grains, lentils and so on. It's amazing what you can prepare with dried pantry items and frozen vegetables ...

Black Beans with Okra and Cumin
1) Soak overnight or power soak a cup of black beans (1 cup of dried beans cooked will feed 2-3 people).
2) Bring soaked beans to the boil in a pot of water, reduce heat and simmer a couple hours till beans are soft.
3) Toss onion, garlic and a teaspoon of the powdered cumin (which is not on the 2/5 list, so leave it out if you don't have it in your cupboard) in a pan with olive oil; saute over med heat for about 10 mins.
Note: You can substitute cumin with curry powder, or chili powder, or coriander, or one of your other favorite spices.
5) Toss in the cooked black beans and a cup of frozen okra (again it's not on the 2/5 list so leave it out if you don't have it on hand). You could substitute okra for celery, which is on the list.
6) Add a little water, or stock, and gently cook over low heat for about 30 mins or until the flavors have infused. Add salt and pepper to taste.

To Serve:
Spoon beans and okra over boiled rice or millet, which you can cook in any leftover stock -- grains cooked in stock have a wonderful flavor. And if you have any braising greens left over from the 2/5 list, toss in pan with garlic and butter; this makes a wonderful side to the black beans.

Tip: I love cooking with frozen okra; added to stews, casseroles and bean dishes it will act as a mild thickening agent.

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