If I had to change my name to a food that I’ve been eating a lot of lately, I might have to call myself Spicy Beans 😉
But seriously, since embarking on the 95% plant-based challenge this year, I find myself going back to the good ol’ humble legume everytime I’m looking for something satiating and comforting.
It’s a good thing Dan Beutner, the National Geographic Fellow who studies the Blue Zones, areas of the world with the longest-lived populations, found that the common denominator between all these regions was the unrelenting consumption of beans and legumes.
Why might these simple foods confer longevity benefits you may ask? Beans contain fiber, protein and slow burning carbs plus minerals and vitamins. They nourish the beneficial bugs in our microbiome which, in turn, produce a host of molecules that enhance our overall health. They’re basically the cheapest health food out there so I am going to OWN them as the inspiration for my new moniker.
This recipe is inspired by Venezuelan black beans which are smoky and decadent. The traditional recipe calls for bacon and meat stock which I have substituted with bay leaves, smoked paprika and garam masala (gasp!). Before you unsubscribe (LOL seriously would you?!) hear me out. Garam masala is essentially a blend of some of the deepest flavored spices out there – cinnamon, clove, bay, cumin and so on – which impart meat like notes to plant-based dishes. So I went for it. And the results were delicious.
I used these giant Christimas Lima Beans from Rancho Gorgo (not sponsored) but you can use black or red beans. Honestly it doesn’t matter. It’s hard to mess this dish up.
I hope you love it.
2 generous servings
1 cup beans, soaked overnight (or 2 cups cooked beans)
1 tablespoon avocado oil
1 small red onion finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon minced ginger
3 bay leaves
2 dried red chilies (optional)
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 green bell peppers cut into a large dice
1 cup tomato puree or crushed tomatoes
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
Large pinch of cayenne (optional)
Large pinch of sumac (not optional :))
Juice of 1/2 a lime
In a pressure cooker, instant pot or a regular pot, heat the oil on medium high heat until it shimmers.
Add the onion, ginger and garlic and cook for 3-5 minutes until softened and just lightly browned. Add the bay leaves and spices and sautee for a minute. Add the peppers and cook for 2 minutes until well coated with the spiced oil.
Add the tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes or so. Add the beans, enough water to cover, salt and pepper. Cook on a high pressure setting for 20 minutes in the pressure cooker or instant pot or if using a regular pot, add a bit more water and cook with the lid on on a medium-low flame for an hour until the beans have softened. If using cooked beans, this can be accomplished in 10 minutes.
Adjust the salt to taste. Spoon the bean stew into a bowl. Top with fresh coriander, cayenne, sumac, fresh lime and some saurkraut if you have it on hand. Dig in.