Thursday, November 12, 2009

Cumin & Coriander Black Beans

Yesterday I featured cumin and coriander in a spiced lentil dish.

Today I'm featuring the same spices in a black bean dish.

Select lo0se spices are on sale at WFs this week and I made the most of that sale and bought several ounces of my two favorites.

I buy loose herbs and spices, ground and whole, in bulk, spooning just as much as I need into recycled Ziploc bags which I bring with me to the store from home.

I reuse those bags, over and over, washing them, drying them, and storing them in a utility draw in my kitchen.

I decant ground spices from my Ziploc bags into screw-top glass jars. Spices are best stored in the pantry away from heat and direct sunlight where they will stay fresh for 6 months to a year.

Once spices start to lose their aroma it's an indication that the aromatic oils in the spice, which give them their flavor, have evaporated and this means the spice is no longer fresh.

Ground spices with no flavor are not worth keeping. But throwing food out -- even spices -- is akin to tossing money in the trash.

This is why I buy spices loose, purchasing only a couple ounces at a time; it ensures that I use all my spices within months of their purchase and it ensures that I avoid throwing spices out.

I do tend to use ground spices more often with lentils and beans since pulses tend to be neutral in flavor.

Additionally, spices are pungent and thus as the weather fluctuates from cool to very cold, stews of spicy beans and vegetables are both warming while being budget-wise.

Cumin and coriander with black beans is one of my favorites. I like to add any number of root vegetables to the dish, but as you can see in the pics above this time around, I've simply added chopped onion, garlic and celery.

But consider adding diced potato, sweet potato, rutabaga, swede, carrots, leeks, cabbage to this dish. The addition of lots of vegetables stretches the beans further and gives the meal interest, texture and color.

Cumin & Coriander Black Beans

1) Chop half an onion a couple sticks of celery and a smashed clove of garlic. (Add additional vegetables if you wish.)
2) Toss veggies into a skillet lined with light olive oil; add a teaspoon each of cumin & coriander.
3) Saute over low heat, coating vegetables with spices.
4) Add a couple cups of cooked black beans, stirring into vegetables. Allow ingredients to simmer for a few mins and then add a little water or stock and simmer for a further 30-45 mins.
5) Taste test, adding salt if you wish; you might like to add a heaped spoon of tomato paste.

To Serve: As you can see in the pic below, I've used my black bean stew as the middle layer for a meal that consists of a bottom layer of rice, then a layer of black beans, followed by a fried egg, topped with chopped avocado and whole cherry tomatoes.

You could take the above combination and roll it into a flour tortilla, thereby creating a burrito. Or you could simply serve the spiced black beans with rice and a side salad or with a side of steamed greens.

Or consider popping your spiced beans into the blender with additional stock or water and whizzing them into a soup. Top the soup with banana sauteed in a little butter, a blob of yogurt and fresh chopped cilantro.

Experiment with serving your spiced black beans; they're incredibly versatile!

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