Super-Simple Black Bean Salsa

Cameron and I have lived here in London for nearly a year now, and as much as I love it, I would be lying if I said there weren’t a few things I miss about living in the US. Luckily, the topic of this week’s post is something  I can actually fix, unlike the large distance between friends and family.

The heat waves we’ve had the past few weeks had me craving Mexican food– tacos, salsa, guac, you name it. The problem? I’ve been pretty disappointed with the salsas, guacamoles, and flour tortillas I’ve been able to find. Luckily I came across a spice shop near our flat that sells corn tortillas from the Cool Chile Co, which was started by the owner of one of my favourite restaurants in the area, Taqueria. With tortillas in hand I got to thinking about salsa.

I hadn’t made salsa in ages, but remember the principle being pretty straightforward (tomatoes, onion, cilantro, etc.), so after a quick google search for inspiration, got to chopping. I grabbed the best vine tomatoes I could find at the farmers’ market, some red onion, cilantro (coriander), and lime. Once I was home with my produce I remembered some frozen corn in the freezer, and black beans I’d made the day before, and decided to add those as well. I spread the corn out on a baking sheet and tossed it under the broiler for a few minutes to brown.

The result was even better than I’d hoped. Not to toot my own horn, but this might be the best thing I’ve ever made. No joke. We had friends over last weekend and I decided to whip up another  big batch assuming we would have leftovers. No such luck– it was a hit!

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The recipe below will make enough for 4-5 cups, but is easy to scale as needed.

Ingredients:

• 4-5 vine tomatoes, seeded and chopped

• 1- 1 1/2 small red onion, chopped finely

• one bunch cilantro/coriander washed and chopped

• 2c corn (fresh or frozen), roasted and cooled

• 2c black beans, drained (you could use canned to make this even quicker)

• optional, but delicious: 2 jalapeños, seeded and diced

• salt and lime juice to taste

Directions:

  1. toss everything together (except salt and lime juice) in a large bowl.
  2. add salt and lime to taste
  3. let sit for at least an hour to let the flavours come together
  4. Serve with your favourite tortilla chips or use to top tacos/any other food

This should keep for two -three days in the fridge, but I can’t verify this as it hasn’t made it that far in our house.

Happy snacking!

 

Friday Cocktail: Summer Shrub

A shrub? Yes. Well, no, not if you’re thinking about the garden variety, but definitely yes if you are thinking about a delicious, summery syrup that will keep in your fridge well into the fall, then the answer is definitely yes.

What is a shrub exactly? Well at it’s most simple it’s a sort of drinking vinegar. While that doesn’t sound terribly appetising, bear with me because it’s actually delicious. Using vinegar to preserve fruit has a long history, but it became especially popular in colonial America, making drinks with or without alcohol. And it’s exactly this ability to enjoy with or without alcohol that makes them so nice in the summer– they are super refreshing and full of flavour!

The prep work is wonderfully simple, but there is some waiting involved. Patience is definitely not a virtue that I have been particularly blessed with, but if I can wait two days for this, you can too. If you were to google ‘shrub’ lots of different recipes and combinations will come up, ranging from one with a single fruit, or multiple. The idea for this recipe comes from Renegade Kitchen and uses plums (one of my favourite summer fruits) and basil (one of my favourite herbs). Besides these two things you’ll also need some sugar, plain granulated works great, and apple cider vinegar (yay probiotics!).

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I definitely recommend using a granulated sugar rather than something liquid like agave or maple syrup since the friction will be your friend here. A lot of recipes call for white wine or golden balsamic vinegar, but I like apple cider here because it adds some good-for-you fermentation and hints at the flavour of kombucha.

Ingredients:

• 4-6 plums (your favourite kind), pitted and quartered

• large bunch basil, roughly chopped or torn

• 1c sugar

• 2c apple cider vinegar

Directions: 

  1. In a large bowl combine the plums, basil, and sugar. Use your hands (or a wooden spoon) to really coat the fruit with the sugar. Set this in the fridge at least overnight, stirring once or twice in between.
  2. The next day, strain this mixture through a fine mesh strainer (or a clean pair of stockings). There should be a lot of liquid around the fruit, but be sure to press/squeeze any excess out of the plums. Discard any solids
  3. Combine the strained juice with the vinegar and stir gently to combine. Decant into a glass container of your choice and leave in a cool place on your counter overnight.
  4. It will be ready to try the next day, but the longer it sits the more the flavours develop, and the more the vinegar mellows.

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A really lovely and refreshing way to enjoy this is to add a bit to the bottom of a collins glass, add some ice, and top with sparkling water or club soda. It’s a lot more interesting than soft drinks, and is a great way to enjoy a cocktail without any alcohol. An added bonus is the gorgeous pink colour from the skins of the plums.

For an more ‘adult’ version of the above, add a shot of your favourite gin, and a lemon twist for garnish.

I’m definitely excited to use this once the temperature begins to dip again as well– I think something like whiskey or bourbon combined with the summery plum and basil could be really interesting, so check back in a few months to find out.

If you liked this recipe and want some more inspiration, the New York Times has a great article on shrubs here.

Cheers!

 

Blueberry Pie & the Fourth of July

I couldn’t help myself with the rhyme in the title, so please forgive me if you’re cringing.

Being out of the USA on Independence Day is always a bit strange (at least I think it is). Seeing all of my friending posting photos on Instagram and Snapchat of fun parties, boat trips, and fireworks, especially fireworks, definitely made me a little jealous. Since we knew there would be no fireworks in London, and as we were pretty tired from spending most of the weekend at Henley, Cameron and I opted for a lower-key celebration. We had dinner at home and then headed to the American Bar at the Savoy for a celebratory cocktail.

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Cocktail from the American Bar at the Savoy

Rather than hamburgers on the grill we made black bean burgers, and found some gorgeous purple sweet potatoes that made some very blue sweet potato fries. I knew I wanted to make a fun, super american dessert, and pie was an obvious option. You may be thinking that apple would’ve been the more classic choice here, but I think blueberry is equally American (it’s the state dessert of Maine), is wonderful in the summertime, and also happens to be my favourite. Another added bonus? It’s so much simpler to make!

For the pie crust I used my favourite recipe, this coconut oil pie crust from the Minimalist baker, and used 1/2 white and 1/2 whole wheat flour. I love the whole wheat crust here because it adds a bit of nuttiness that I think works really nicely with the filling. I also love that this crust doesn’t use any vegan butter substitute, as I think it can leave an odd aftertaste in baked goods.

Ingredients: 

• Enough pie dough for 1 double crust pie. The link above makes enough for this, but of course you could sub your favourite.

• Blueberry filling

Blueberry Pie Filling:

• 4c blueberries, fresh or frozen (I used a mix of the two)

• 3 tbs cornstarch

• 3/4c sugar

• 1/2 tsp cinnamon

• 1-2 tbs cointreau (optional)

Directions:

  1. Split your dough and roll 1/2 of it on a well-floured surface into a large disk about 1/8 thick. Use your rolling pin to move the dough into your pie plate, and gently press it in. Set in the fridge while you prepare the blueberries.
  2. Add blueberries, cornstarch, sugar, cinnamon, and cointreau into a large bowl and mix gently until the blueberries are coated with the dry ingredients.
  3. Carefully add the blueberries to the pie shell, and set in the fridge.
  4. Preheat oven to 425°F  (220°C)
  5. Roll the other half of your pie dough to the same dimensions as the first crust. Then use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to make long strips about the width of your thumb.
  6. Use these to make a lattice on top of the blueberries. This video is super helpful and far clearer than me explaining it. Instead of using an egg wash, I like to brush the top with coconut milk.
  7. Bake the pie at 425°F for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 350°F (176°C) for 35-40 minutes. The top should be golden, and the filling should be bubbling lightly.
  8. Once finished, let cool for 2-3 hours before slicing. I know it’s a long time, but it will keep your filling from becoming a runny mess when you cut into it.
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The cornstarch will help the filling set so it doesn’t run when you slice it

Honestly the mist finicky part of this pie is the crust. If you’re nervous about rolling it out or making the lattice top there are tons of super-helpful youtube clips. I promise the lattice isn’t really that hard, but looks lovely and impressive anyway.

I hope those of you who celebrated had a very happy Fourth of July!

 

 

Super-Simple Granola

There are an unbelievable amount of granolas in the grocery store, and I always find it a bit  overwhelming. Finding one that tastes good, has the right amount of crunch, and that doesn’t have as much sugar as a donut can be a challenge though.

A few months ago when Cameron and I were visiting The Hague we stayed in an airBnB and had an absolutely lovely host who brought us some homemade granola. It was so good that I asked her for the recipe and have been experimenting ever since to arrive at this recipe. It’s super simple, wonderfully customisable, and delicious for breakfast or a snack.

One of the best things about making your own granola is that you can copy your favourite brand, and tweak it to make it perfect for you. Love the about of nuts and seeds, but hate raisins? Easy. Think your granola could be vastly improved with some chocolate? Add it in. It can also be a great way to add in some extra protein and healthy fats by including chia seeds, flax seeds, and chopped nuts. This also happens to be naturally gluten free as long as you’re using gluten-free oats, and totally vegan as well.

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The nuts and seeds not only help me make it through to lunch, but are full of good-for-you minerals and vitamins. Flax seeds are loaded with omega-3’s, a healthy fat, as well as magnesium and some key B-vitamins. Sunflower seeds are another great source of B-vitamins, as well as skin-nurturing zinc and vitamin-E. Chia seeds are famous for their healthy fats and general health-increasing properties. Coconut can help reduce cravings for sweets, as well as lowering blood sugar. Combined, all of these things pack quite a bit of protein, fibre, and healthy fats– add abut of fruit, of some vegan yogurt for a probiotic boost, and your day is already off to a good start.

If you make this recipe and find there isn’t quite enough sugar, you can always add more the next time. I like to add relatively little not just because it’s better for me, but because I love to add a sliced banana or some berries when I have this for breakfast, and prefer to get some extra finer with the added sweetness.

The recipe below makes about five cups of granola, which is enough for about ten 1/2c servings. It’s super-easy to double or cut in half though. In fact, I’ll often make half of a batch when I’m trying new flavours.

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granola before heading into the oven

Ingredients: 

• 3.5c rolled oats (gluten-free)

• 1c coconut chips

• 1/4c flax seeds (whole)

• 1/2c sunflower seeds

• 2 tbs chia seeds

(• 1/2-1c of chopped almonds, optional)

• 1/2-1 tsp cinnamon

• 1/4c oil*, melted

• 2-3 tbs sugar of your choice (date paste is really lovely here, but brown rice syrup or maple would also be really nice)

* I generally use coconut oil,but you could also use olive (I know it sounds weird, but it adds a lovely richness)

Directions:

  1. preheat oven to 180ºC/350ºF
  2. combine oats, seeds, and nuts if you’re adding them into a 2-3 in. deep, 9/13 casserole dish, stirring to combine
  3. in a small bowl, combine the oil and sweetener of your choice
  4. drizzle the oil/sweetener over the granola ingredients, and toss gently with your hands or a wooden spoon to coat.
  5. sprinkle the cinnamon, if using, and gently stir again
  6. bake for 30-40 minutes, removing every ten minutes to stir, everything should turn a really lovely golden brown and your house will smell amazing
  7. let cool completely before storing in an airtight container for up to one week
  8. enjoy with almond milk or yogurt
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out of the oven

I know it seems like there are quite a few steps, but the total ‘active’ time is actually quite short. I love to make this on a Sunday when I tend to be a bit lazy anyway, and do some reading while its in the oven. It’s also a great way to make sure I have breakfast covered for the rest of the week.

Let me know in the comments if you give it a try, and if you customise it!

 

 

The Perfect Blend of Sweet and Savoury

In case you hadn’t heard, Valentine’s day is on Sunday this year, which makes brunch the prefect way to celebrate whether you’re having a day with friends, your partner, or celebrating on your own (self-love totally counts on Valentine’s day!).

When I was thinking about some of my favourite breakfast/brunch items, baked goods were definitely at the top. I have a serious sweet tooth, but often want something a little bit savoury in the morning as well, otherwise I feel like I’m having dessert. Scones are a particular favourite of mine not only because they are delicious, but because they are so easy to make. In fact, recipes often explicitly tell you not to mix the batter for very long, or you will have dry, overly-hard scones, perfect for someone who has very little patience like me. Stumbling across this recipe from The Minimalist Baker, I knew I had found the perfect recipe for a fun, relaxed brunch.

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I was a little war of the rosemary-blueberry mix at first, but deduced to give it a try anyway, and was pleasantly surprised. It’s definitely an unexpected flavour, but strikes a really nice balance between sweet and savoury, with the rosemary giving them a herby, grounding flavour– sort of the prefect combination for the end of winter and beginning of spring. It may even replace blueberry-ginger as my favourite flavour combo! The recipe originally calls for frozen blueberries, but I was lucky to find some really delicious fresh ones at the market, so subbed them in instead, adding a few extra because why not?

Another thing these scones have going for them is that they just so happen to be vegan. You could, of course, sub the flax egg for a chia egg, or other egg substitute, but I think these are pretty perfect as they are. I did need to add a bit more flour than the recipe called for, probably because I didn’t use spelt flour, which would have soaked up a bit more of the moisture, so be aware when you’re mixing and adjust accordingly.

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Ingredients:

• 1 flax egg (or one real egg, if you’re into that kind of thing)

• 1/4 c almond milk (unsweetened)

• 2 & 1/4c flour

• 1tbs baking powder

• 1/4 sugar

• 1/2tsp sea salt (finely ground)

• 1 tbs fresh rosemary, chopped (don’t sub for dried)

• 6 tbs room tempt. coconut oil (not liquid)

• 1/3 c plus 1 handful blueberries

Instructions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F, mix dry ingredients in a large bowl (flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, rosemary)
  2. mix wet ingredients in a smaller bowl (flax egg, almond milk)
  3. add coconut oil to dry ingredients as use a fork (or pastry cutter) to combine until it looks a bit like sand
  4. slowly add the wet ingredients, stir until just combined, then gently stir in the blueberries
  5. turn out onto a lightly floured surface, form into a 1-inch high disk, cut into wedges. (You could also make this recipe even simpler by making drop scones instead)
  6. sprinkle the tops with a little bit of sugar, then place on a baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes

(click here for the original recipe)

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How are you celebrating Valentine’s day? Let me know in the comments!

 

Christmas Eve and a Holiday Favourite

It’s Christmas Eve!  All of my presents are wrapped, and food is prepped, so not it’s time to relax and celebrate. Christmas Eve is always the bigger celebration in our house, with Christmas day more relaxed. One of my favourite things to make during the holidays is my family’s recipe for bourbon balls, which we’ve been making since I can remember. I have no idea where my grandmother got this recipe, but it’s definitely a favourite. Over time I’ve tweaked it a bit, most notably by adding a bit more bourbon than the recipe calls for.

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I’ve made a few other small changes, altering the sugar in the recipe, and the type of cookie used–the recipe itself calls for vanilla wafers, but since it can be hard to find these in dairy-free versions, I sub another wafer cookie,like Newman’s Own Alphabet Cookies, which give the same texture. I’m not a huge fan of adding corn syrup, so I like to sweeten with maple syrup, which also adds a bit more flavour rather than sugar. Sometimes I’ll coat them in cocoa powder rather than confectioner’s sugar for a more chocolatey flavour

Here is the adapted recipe as I actually follow it now. The coconut oil, one it solidifies, helps to hold them together without the corn syrup. You can tweak the maple syrup a bit to taste. I like to use a food processor to help crush the cookies and walnuts, but I recommend doing them separately, as you don’t want to cookies to be completely broken up, but to have some texture left.

Ingredients: 

• 7.5oz vanilla wafer cookies

• 4oz walnuts, chopped finely

• 1.5 tbs coconut oil melted

•2 Tbs dark cocoa powder

• 2-3 Tbs maple syrup

• 3-4 tbs bourbon (or rum)

• 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

• 1/2 c confectioners sugar

Directions: 

  1. combine cookie crumbs, cocoa powder,  and chopped walnuts in a large bowl
  2. add the bourbon or rum, vanilla, and coconut oil and mix until a cohesive dough forms. If the mixture seems a bit loose, add more bourbon (or maple syrup if you prefer).
  3. form the mixture into small spheres with about 1-1.5 tsp each.
  4. Let dry for at least 30 minutes, but ideally an hour, then roll in confectioner’s sugar or cocoa powder

You may want to double the recipe as they go quickly! These would also make a fantastic new year’s snack , or a super last minute gift that is both thoughtful and delicious.

Merry Christmas if you’re celebrating!

Tuesday Transformation- Leftover Brown Rice Pudding

The advice about making a large pot of beans, rice, or other hearty filler at the beginning of the week, then tossing them into salads, soups, or whatever ever else along the rest of the week is genius. No longer do I have to impatiently wait for something to cook while my stomach grumbles loudly after I get home from class– I can just reheat what I’ve already made and get back to work.

Sometimes though I get tired of what I’ve cooked before it runs out (you can only have so many burrito bowls!). Extra black beans? No problem, you can use them to make black bean burgers. Leftover veggies? Toss them into pasta! Brown rice is an especially versatile leftover– you could add it to just about any soup to make it more filling (great in the winter), or you could turn it into dessert!

I know rice pudding is not the most exciting of desserts for most, but it has always been one of my favourites. My grandmother used to get the best rice pudding from a tiny little deli where I grew up;  I remember the large containers with a healthy sprinkling of cinnamon on top, and the the creamiest rice pudding inside. Cold out of the fridge, it was one of my favourite treats after school, so naturally I had to make a diary-free version. To reimagine this childhood favourite I used leftover brown rice, some nondairy milk, and orange zest, but you could swap it for some vanilla, or really go crazy and add a bit of cocoa powder.

Ingredients:

• 1.5c cooked brown rice

• ~ 1.5c non-dairy milk of your choice

• 1-2Tbs sweetener

• zest from one small orange (optional)

Directions: 

  1. Add the rice, milk (make sure you add enough to cover the rice), and half of the zest to a saucepan. Adding just some of the orange now lets you control how much flavour goes in.
  2. Heat on high until it begins to bubble, then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. You may need to add a bit more milk so keep an eye on it.
  3. After its cooked through and the rice has expanded, add sweetener and the rest of the zest to taste.

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It’s delicious warm or chilled, and is amazingly comforting, especially in the winter! I’ve even been known to have some for breakfast on the weekend.

Birthday Beignets

Tuesday was Cameron’s 25th birthday, and we have a bit of a tradition of making beignets for celebratory occasions– birthdays, holidays, etc. They make the morning, and really the whole day, just a bit more special. If you want to go all out, you could even enjoy these with a glass of champagne or a mimosa and fell incredibly decadent.

This recipe is pretty straightforward, but I definitely recommend prepping all of your ingredients first, so you can add everything easily in sequence. Also be aware that you will want to make the dough for these the night before so they have plenty of time to rise overnight (if you don’t want to wait overnight, just be sure to let them sit for 6-8 hours to rise properly).

Once they’re ready and you’ve rolled them out you can use a fun cookie cutter (I used a dinosaur!) if you’d like to make them a bit more festive, but I would definitely avoid anything with small detailed shapes as they may cook unevenly.

I’ve tested a few recipes over the last few years, and this one is definitely my favorite, although I’ve made a few changes over time. I’ve also halved the original recipe, so what’s described below make plenty of beignets for 3-4 people.

Ingredients:

• 1/2 c warm, wrist temperature water

• 1/8c sugar of your choice

• 1/2 tbs active dry yeast

• 1 egg replacement

• 1 tbs vegan butter, plus 1tbs coconut oil melted

• 1/4c nondairy milk (I recommend coconut or almond)

• 1/4 tsp salt

• 2-2.5c all purpose flour

• Oil for frying

• Powdered sugar

Cut dough before frying

Cut dough before frying

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl dissolve the sugar in the warm water, then stir in the yeast with a wooden spoon. Let sit for about five minutes for the yeast to activate.
  2. Add nondairy milk, earth balance/coconut oil, salt ,and egg replacer, whisking well to combine.
  3. Slowly add the flour, mixing well with a wooden spoon as you go. Once it’s somewhat sticky and hard to mix, knead for a few minutes until its smoothed out and a bit elastic, shaping it into a ball.
  4. Remove the dough, lightly coat the bowl with oil, then replace the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight, or for at least 6-8 hours.
  5. Once it’s risen, knead briefly and roll out on a well-floured surface. I like to flip it over after each roll to keep it from sticking. Aim for about 1/4in thick dough once rolled out completely.
  6. Cut dough into strips about 1-1.5in wide, then cut again tomato either rectangles or triangles. I try to cut my rectangles no smaller than about 1in on the shorter side, and 1.5-2 in on the longer sides, but it’s totally up to you. Just ensure they are mostly uniform so they cook evenly.
  7. Heat oil to 360°F, and once hot, gently place in a few pieces of dough at a time, turning as needed, until they are golden on all sides.
  8. Once you remove the beignets from the hot oil, place them on a plate with about 2-3 paper towels to remove a bit of excess oil, then place in a bowl of powdered sugar and toss/stir to coat.
  9. Once you have friend all of your dough, I like to go back over the pile of beignets with  a generous sprinkle of powdered sugar. A tea strainer works quite well to evenly disperse, but you could also use a fine mesh sieve.
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The finished beignets!

These are a bit time intensive, but I promise they’re worth it– if anything, the amount of work involved will keep you from making these every weekend! After enjoying these Cameron and I usually like to go for a walk, or do something relatively active, as all of that sugar needs to go somewhere!

Do you have a favorite recipe that you use for celebrations/holidays? Let me know in the comments!

Perfect Peach Galette

I love galettes. They are a lovely vehicle for fruit of any kind- I have made apple galettes in the fall and winter, berry in the summer, and even a few savory galettes. Not only are they beautiful, they are a great deal easier to make than a pie, which is a huge plus!

This past weekend I picked up a surplus of peaches from The Peach Truck when I saw that it was the second to last weekend they’d be driving up. Since then not only have I been eating at least one peach a day, I have been furiously trying to find ways to use them- this week’s Friday Cocktail may very well be peach themed as well!

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This recipe makes a smaller galette, suitable for about four servings, which is great as I hate having things go to waste, and Cameron and I couldn’t (and shouldn’t) eat a whole galette over aa few days. The filling is unbelievably simple, and the crust is perfect- the bit of cornmeal added makes it super crisp and the perfect base for amazing summer fruit. I found the recipe for the pastry dough here, and adapted the filling.

Ingredients:

For the Crust

• 1/2c + 2tbs all purpose flour

• 2tbs cornmeal

• pinch of salt

• 2 tbs sugar

• 4tbs extra chilled vegan butter

• 2tbs ice water (you may need to add an additional 1-2 tsp)

For the Filling

• 3 peaches, peeled, cored, and sliced

• 2 tsp sugar

• 1/2 lemon

• 2-3 tsp cornstarch

Directions:

1. Add dry ingredients to a large bowl, whisk lightly to combine

2. Add the chilled vegan margarine or shortening then, using a fork, incorporate the dry goods. Mix until it has the consistency of large bits of sand. You could also use a food processor for this.

3. Add the cold water, first the 2 tbs, then the additional if needed, mix, then knead just to combine. Shape the dough into a flat disk, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

4. Place the sliced peaches in a bowl, covering with the sugar, lemon juice, and cornstarch. Mix gently to combine and let sit for a few minutes.

5. Once the dough has chilled, roll it out onto a well floured surface. Trip the edges into a rough disk, then place onto a baking sheet (if you wait until after you’ve added the filling, it will be quite difficult to move). Try not to overwork it- if it gets too warm it may be harder to work with.

6. Arrange the peaches in the enter of the dough, adding blueberries if you wish. Be careful not to add any extra liquid as you add the peaches.

7. Carefully fold the edge of the dough around the filling. Then brush with a bit of almond milk to give it some color in the oven.

8. Bake at 350°F for 45-60 minutes, or until the crust is golden.

9. Let cool completely before slicing.

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Enjoy!

A Family Favorite with an Update

My mom has made Beans and Greens for as long as I can remember. The version I grew up with has it’s roots in the cooking of my Italian great-grandmother, and is both delicious, and a wonderfully easy dish that I make all year. Growing up my mom alway used spinach (the original recipe called for escarole), and occasionally used frozen spinach, making it a super hearty dish perfect for dipping bread into.I like to get a bit more creative and use what’s in season if I can. In the spring and summer I love to go by what I can find at the farmers’ market– dandelion greens are great because of their bitterness, as is broccoli rabe, and chard (especially red chard) is awesome, and of course spinach is always a classic. In the winter I use mostly different kinds of kale because it grows just about all year, and will become quite tender when cooked down for bit.

While this is not entirely the beans and greens I grew up with, it is certainly close. I don’t like to cook my greens down all the way, instead leaving a bit of crispness in the stems, and I no longer top them with a generous amount of Pecorino Romano (but you are more than welcome to if you so choose). I do use the same generous amount of olive oil, and a bit of kick with some garlic, red pepper flakes, and some lemon.

One of the things that makes this dish so simple is that canned beans work quite well here, so there’s no need to plan too far ahead. If you choose to leave the stems of your greens on, like I do, then your prep time is shortened as well. Cutting your greens into thin ribbons across the whole leaf helps them to cook evenly, making them a bit like a leafy green pasta.

For a more filling meal I like to serve this over polenta, but a nice piece of toast is the perfect accompaniment if I’m pressed for time, or not quite as hungry. One of my favorites, though, is just a whole bowl of beans and greens on their own, with perhaps a piece of ciabatta to soak up all of the garlicky olive oil at the end.

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This recipe makes three generous servings, but you can stretch it by doubling the beans, and adding more greens to taste. It also keeps well for a day or so as leftovers, though if you use a lot of garlic you probably shouldn’t take it into work.

Ingredients:

• 13-15 oz can of cannelloni beans, drained. (or equivalent amount of freshly cooked)

• 1-2 bunches of red chard, chopped into fine ribbons

• 1 green bell pepper, chopped julienned

• 1-3 cloves of garlic, minced

• pinch of red pepper flakes to taste

• 1/2 lemon

• Several tablespoons of good olive oil

• Salt and pepper to saste

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The two main ingredients to an easy weeknight meal

Directions:

1. Cover the bottom of large pan with olive oil and heat over medium. If you can, try to use one with high sides, or even large pot- it will make stirring a lot easier when you first add the greens.

2. Add the garlic to the oil, being carful not to let it burn.

3. Once the garlic has softened, add the bell pepper,red pepper flakes, and the beans. Heat until the beans have absorbed most of the oil, and there isn’t much liquid in the pan.

4. Add a bit more olive oil, then top with the greens. This is when you will be glad to have a pan with high sides. Cook the greens down until they have about half of their original volume in the pan. Squeeze the lemon of the greens if desired, and add any salt or pepper. If you notice that it seems a bit dry, add more olive oil.

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The greens just before adding the lemon

5. Serve over polenta, with some good, crusty bread, or on its own. I like to add final drizzle of olive oil and a squad of lemon to bring all of the flavors out.

Enjoy! One of my favorite things about this recipe is how easy it is to alter based on what’s available and in season, so feel free to get creative!