!!Yo Quiero Rancho Gordo!! (Cooking with Dried Legumes I)

The Musical Fruit

Some say adding kombu (the stuff that is not the beans or the onion) helps, er, tone down the music.

Beans. If you are like me, you did not grow up eating them regularly and most often paid attention to beans when mocking them. We all know that song from grade school:  

Beans, beans, the musical fruit – the more you eat, the more you toot – the more you toot, the better you feel, so let’s eat beans at every meal!

The ending is sarcastic. You wouldn’t be caught dead eating beans after hearing that song.  

So, maybe beans make you musical. If so, I’m sorry. But if you’re willing to look past the bad reputation they had in grade school – and who really deserved a bad rep at that age? – you can learn to love the legume.

“Cool Beans”

Unlike people, not all beans are created equal. The most fabulous,fun, and flavorful beans out there that I’ve found are from Rancho Gordo. Check out their site. It’s informative and super-cute. If you can’t find RG beans where you live, you can order from the website. Awesomeness! What makes RG beans so special is the fact that they aren’t just any old beans. They are old heirloom varieties of beans, stuff you probably have never tried before. What’s more, they’re very farmer-friendly and have changed lives in Mexico. Incredible.

If you know the difference between an heirloom tomato and a cheap, canned conventional tomato, well, it gives you an idea of the difference between cheap canned beans (which I do like!) and the heirloom variety.

Honestly, it’s just cool to try out new foods that are nutritious and delicious.  I saw RG Christmas Lima beans the other day and picked them up. I love giant lima beans.  Their texture is so meaty (sorry if that phraseology offends anyone) and hearty. And these bad boys looked so interesting!

So … were the Christmas Limas naughty or nice?  I thought they were dee-licious! The texture is wonderful, the taste is kind of like chestnuts (as the package promised), and they are really filling. Here’s some more bean pics:

So attractive! How could I resist trying them out?


Raw & cooked. Close to actual size!

The RG website has info on how to prepare their beans. It’s really easy.  

I soak dried beans overnight, rinse them a few times before cooking, then simmer them until they’re the texture I like.


Unless I have lots of time or have planned ahead, I usually cook beans one day while doing something else, then actually eat them the next day.  They keep in the fridge nicely and are ready to add to salads, pilafs, pastas, sandwiches, etc. 

So how do you eat these things?

Yes, I know you eat them with your mouth.  But with new foods, it’s sometimes daunting to figure out what to do with them. I am still working with kitchen limitations, so it was another pasta night for me. I know that this recipe is strikingly similar to my last post (pasta, veg, legume). While not the most creative thing ever, I’m getting nutrition, variety, and tastiness with minimal work. This combination was pretty yummy, if I say so myself.

One thing I want to show is that once you find a method that is easy for you, you can riff on it endlessly and not feel like you’re eating the same thing nightafternightafternightafternight …

So … here’s a quick and easy way to enjoy some of the most extraordinary beans around, the Rancho Gordo Christmas Limas. Stay tuned for more – stews, side dishes, all sorts of ideas come to mind … and will come into being, once my movers finally deliver my kitchen stuff!

Pasta Spirals with Christmas Lima Beans and Fried Zucchini

Serves 2

Another quick meal. If you have cooked beans on hand, all you need to do is boil pasta and fry up some zucchini. Mmmmm.

 Ingredients

2 servings whole wheat pasta (Trade Joe’s Organic Whole Wheat Rotelle is GREAT)
2 small – medium zucchinis, cut into matchsticks
2 tsp olive oil
Salt
Pepper
1-2 cups cooked Christmas Lima beans (Rancho Gordo recommended)
 

Directions

Cook pasta according to package directions.

While water for pasta is boiling, reheat the beans in a separate pot with their cooking liquid, if needed.

Chop zucchini into matchsticks.  Place zucchini in medium or large skillet, turn heat on high.  When skillet reaches high heat, drizzle olive oil over zucchini and reduce heat if needed to prevent scorching.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  (I like to add a ton of black pepper.)  Stir to distribute oil and salt and pepper, but don’t keep stirring throughout.  Cook on high heat – without stirring – until zucchini is very dark brown on one side.  When one side of the zucchini is dark brown or at the desired doneness, turn off heat.  Stir zucchini to let other sides of the vegetables cook and to keep warm while pasta finishes cooking.

Drain pasta.  Stir in zucchini.  Drain beans and stir in.  Season with additional salt if desired.

Adding some toasted walnut oil would probably be really delicious, but I didn’t have any on hand to test out that idea …


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