I’ve been on a dried bean and legume kick lately—meaning that I’ve been making a lot of recipes that start with dried beans or legumes. I’ve made things with dried beans before, but more often than not when a recipe calls for beans, I crack open a can.
There is no question that canned beans can save some time and are good when I haven’t planned ahead, but often the taste and texture of the beans are a little off. They can also have a lot of added sodium.
Then there is the can itself. Of course tin cans can be recycled, but producing and recycling cans uses up more energy than picking up dried beans (with a reusable bag of course) from the bulk bins at the store.
So I guess our efforts to make tastier, healthier, and greener food has driven me more towards dried beans and legumes than canned. As far as the easy part goes, I admit, it is hard to be spontaneous and quick when it comes to making recipes with dried beans. Dried beans often need to be soaked for several hours and it takes a while to cook them. However, as I’ve made more and more dried bean recipes, I have figured out a few tricks that seem to make things go faster…
Splitting up the cooking process is helpful. Since beans don’t need a whole lot of attention when they are simmering on the stove, I’ve cooked beans in the morning while I am getting ready for work, so that I could use them in a recipe later that night. I’ve also made large pots of beans and frozen the extras, so I’ll have cooked beans ready to go for a recipe almost as quickly as if I had a can.
When I made today’s recipe, black-eyed pea and coconut stew, I forgot to soak the beans overnight, so I put them out to soak while I was at work and they were ready to cook when I got home. I did a few things around the house while they cooked and once they were done, making the actual stew was very quick.
Hopefully, if you are not using them already, you will give dried beans a try. Also, please stay tuned for more bean recipes!
Black-Eyed Pea and Coconut Stew
This recipe is originally from East Africa and I came across it in The World in Your Kitchen cookbook. I altered the recipe by adding some carrots and a bell pepper. I thought the vegetables added a little more color and interest to this hearty and flavorful stew.
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 cups cooked black-eyed peas
- 3 carrots, peeled and cut into small coins
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained (I would have used fresh, but they’re not quite in season here)
- 1½ teaspoons turmeric
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 14.5 oz can of light coconut milk
- Olive oil
Heat 1-2 tablespoons of oil in a large heavy pot. Add onions and cook until the onions begin to soften. Add carrots and bell pepper to the pot. Cook for a few minutes or until the vegetables have softened, but are still a little crisp.
Partially mash about a quarter of the black-eyed peas and add all of the peas to the pot. Mix in the tomatoes, turmeric, and chili powder. Pour the coconut milk into the mixture, stir and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and mix in 1-2 tablespoons of roughly chopped cilantro leaves. The stew can be served on its own or over rice.
Tasty Easy Healthy Green Recipe Ratings:
|Recipe Report Card||Notes About Recipe Ratings|
Four Chefs (Delicious!)
|You can’t go wrong with creamy coconut milk and sunny turmeric. This stew was packed with flavor and the leftovers only got better.|
Three Easy Chairs (Average Difficulty)
|While making the actual stew was really quick and easy, I am going to lower the easy rating because of the soaking and cooking time for the black-eyed peas. I now have extra black-eyed peas in my freezer though, so next time this recipe will be a snap!|
Four Apples (Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise)
|Black-eyed peas and most other beans are high in protein and nutrients. The coconut milk does add some fat and calories to the stew, but using light coconut milk cuts some of that down.|
Three Leaves (Average Environmental Friendliness)
|As mentioned above, dried beans are greener than canned beans (I did end up using canned tomatoes and canned coconut milk though). The veggies in the stew were all organic and the carrots were local. Unfortunately, the coconut milk was not organic or local.|