Tag Archives: kampot pepper

Hot Summer, Cool Eats (Cooking with Dried Legumes II; Tik Marij)

It’s Too Darn Hot

So there’s a heat wave going on. And I don’t have AC. ¬†

The last thing I want to do is slave over a hot stove. So … hummus sandwiches are nice … the first several times … and then oh, they can get so borrrring!

Ho-hummus ūüė¶

And you know, I kind of hate to eat hummus at home. Why? Because usually it’s the only non-vegan option when I go out for lunch. Don’t get me wrong. I love me those chickpeas! And you never want to bite the hummus that feeds. Well, I guess you do. ¬†You know what I mean.

Maybe I could try making a bean spread that is not hummus?  After all, I just got in this huge shipment of muy fabuloso Rancho Gordo beans!


When bad things happen to good beans ... They were perfect and delicious until I mangled them, argh!

When I tried to make a bean spread, though, I learned why hummus is king.  

This stuff didn’t look good. It tasted like bland baby food. I haven’t given up, but man, I’m going to stop ragging on hummus. That stuff is genius.

Two Trendy

So after the great spread failure, it was back to the drawing board for me.  

I think it’s safe to say that¬†Rancho Gordo¬†beans are officially trendy. And the other “It Girl” of 2011 would have to be … the coconut. Coconut water is everywhere. And coconut oil has been getting a second look these days as people update their views about healthy and unhealthy fats. These two ingredients have been on my mind lately because, well, people are talking about them. With their mouths full.¬†

Now I’m not one to follow trends slavishly. But nor am I one to ignore a good idea when it comes to me: ¬†fabulous summer rice and beans dish, served at room temperature, with the tropical flavors of coconut and lime. Yes, please!

This time, the recipe gods smiled down on me. So with that, I give you …

The Dragon Fruit Summer Edition:  Coconut Rice and Beans

Serves 1

It was love at first bite. And the next one. And the next. You get the idea.


Please note: it is important to cook the rice and beans in advance, allowing at least enough time for them to come to room temperature, unless you want the dish to be hot. This dish will still taste great even if your rice and beans are a few days old.
1 c cooked brown rice (I used Trader Joe’s brown jasmine rice)
1 c cooked beans (Any kind will do, see note below)
1-2 tsp extra virgin coconut oil
1-2 small green onions, chopped
1/3 c mango, either ripe or green, chopped; or a crunchy vegetable of your choice such as diced cucumber
Bunch of cilantro to taste, minced
Juice and zest of 1/4 – 1/2 lime (I think more is better!)
Lots of ground black pepper (I like to use 1/4 t of it or maybe even more)
Sea salt to taste


Cook rice and beans in advance, allowing at least enough time for these ingredients to come to room temperature before assembling.

In a microwaveable bowl, combine rice and beans. If these ingredients are cold from the refrigerator, microwave for a little bit until just warm.

Gently heat coconut oil (if solid) until it just melts. Drizzle over rice and beans and mix thoroughly. Heating the coconut oil too much tends to compromise the flavor, so I would advise against putting it in the microwave (although I have done it myself).

Add other ingredients, mix thoroughly.  Done!  SO simple, no?

Honestly, it's almost not fair how easy this dish is to throw together.

Note on beans: ¬†The best beans to use are fresh, but canned will do very well. The best variety of beans to use is something with a milder flavor – like pinto beans. (Using all black beans overwhelmed the other flavors.)¬†The bean I used here in this picture is the Rancho Gordo Tiger’s Eye (see photo below). It’s a nice medium flavor. Ideally, I would have used 3/4 c of the Tiger’s Eye and 1/4 c of black beans, probably from a can. I played around with the bean combinations and really liked the way adding some black beans enhanced the depth of the dish.

I liked it so much that I didn’t take any pictures and ate all my black beans.

To cook beans, check out the RG method:  http://www.ranchogordo.com/html/rg_cook_beans_primer.htm

I just soak for a few hours or overnight and simmer them in water. Plain water.

Rancho Gordo Tiger's Eye, before cooking.

Note on lime, black pepper, and salt: ¬†Really the star of this dish is the zing that brings it all together, the lime, black pepper, and salt combination. I didn’t invent it. ¬†The Cambodians did. It’s known as Tik Marij. ¬†If you can get your hands on Cambodian Kampot pepper, do it! But any black pepper will do. It’s a brilliant, tart, mouth-watering sauce that adds life to any dish.


Getting Fast and Dirty with … Pasta and Lentils

Breaking the silence

I stopped blogging back in October. It’s been a long time without The Dragon Fruit¬†in my life! I moved away from San Francisco, did some traveling, and am settling into my new home in Brooklyn. With all that moving around, I often lacked access to a kitchen. No cooking, no blogging. But I’ve got a kitchen now and I’m ready to blog and cook, with a spatula in one hand and my camera in the other.

Ceci n'est pas une cuillere.

No spatula? No problem!

OK, so that was kind of a lie. I don’t have a spatula right now. I don’t have a lot of things. My movers haven’t yet arrived with my stuff. My belongings – including my kitchen stuff – are still somewhere between California and New York. In the meantime, I’m cooking with a stripped-down set of cookware. No spatulas. Just a few things to get by while still in transition.

Until then, this item on the right is my spatula.

I don’t think I can flip an egg with it, but since I’m cooking vegan food, so what? ūüôā

No energy? That’s another story …

Anyone who has seen the show Top Chef understands that you don’t need fancy equipment to produce an excellent meal. A great cook can make something really delicious anywhere, even in a dorm. Hubert Keller made killer mac n’ cheese with just a hot plate, a toaster oven, and … a¬†shower.

Anyone who has eaten take-out for dinner at 10 p.m. knows that the most formidable obstacles to cooking your own food are time and energy. Even with a fully stocked kitchen, there were many times in San Francisco when my best efforts in the kitchen amounted to peeling the foil off a burrito and putting it on a plate. Then yes, I ate it while watching Top Chef. I can tell you this – Hubert Keller didn’t have a kitchen sink, but he persevered because he was full of vim and vigor. And some major derring-do.

So what happens when you have no vim, no vigor, and nary a spatula within reach? Before you high-tail it to the taqueria, consider whether it might just be easier to cook up some pasta with lentils.

"Keep smilin' ... keep shinin' ... knowing you can always count on me. For sure. That's what friends are for!" -- Dionne Warwick and Friends

The lentil is your friend

I love burritos. Don’t get me wrong. But it doesn’t hurt to mix things up a bit, especially if you’ve already had burritos three times this week and since your loyal friend, the humble canned lentil, is so easily transformed into a deeply satisfying meal.

Pasta is of course an obviously quick and easy meal. Adding lentils into the mix not only increases the nutritional value of the meal by providing protein, fiber, and legume-y (yup, that’s a word) nutrients, but also adds extra heft and more texture – effortlessly. You just pop open the can.

Lentils can complement many meals because their flavor is not overpowering and, as they say, plays well with others.

Here’s some ideas to get you started. You don’t need any fancy equipment. You don’t even necessarily need a can opener. You just need the time it takes to boil pasta, and a little derring-do of your own to push through those days when you’re short on time and energy but long on hunger.

Yes, dried lentils that you soak and cook yourself will produce a better result, but canned lentils will really do in a pinch.

I made this first dish using a spoon as a spatula in my nearly empty apartment when I was very tired and very starving. I felt so much better after eating this nourishing, home-cooked meal, which came together quite quickly. (No showers were used to prepare the meal. ¬†I’m no master chef, so I’ll leave the advanced techniques to the professionals!)

The walnuts and lentils were the key textural, flavor, and nutritional elements that really made this dish noteworthy.

Also, I have Cambodian Kampot pepper on hand Рwhich I like to use very liberally.

Pasta Spirals with Lentils & Seared Yellow Peppers

Serves 2

Minimal effort. Maximum satisfaction!


2 servings whole wheat pasta (Trader Joe’s Organic Whole Wheat Rotelle is GREAT)
1 yellow pepper
1-2 cloves garlic
2 tsp olive oil
Pepper, preferably one of excellent quality such as Cambodian Kampot pepper
¬ľ cup sliced almonds
¬ľ cup chopped walnuts
1 can lentils, drained
1 cup greens (can be any kind ‚Äď spinach, even a salad mix, which I used)¬†


Cook pasta according to package directions or al dente.

While water for pasta is boiling, roughly chop a yellow bell pepper and chop garlic. Place peppers in medium or large skillet, turn heat on high.  When skillet reaches high heat, drizzle olive oil over peppers and reduce heat if needed to prevent scorching. Add salt and pepper to taste.  (I like to add a ton of black pepper.) Cook on high heat until peppers soften and darken to your desired texture.

Add chopped garlic and stir. Add sliced almonds and chopped walnuts.   (You could toast these in a dry skillet before cooking the peppers.) Reduce heat and cook for 1-2 minutes.

Add lentils (do not add the liquid from the can) and stir. Keep on medium or low heat until pasta finishes cooking.

Drain pasta. Toss with pepper and lentil mixture.

Wilt greens in the pot you used to cool the pasta – place greens in pot on medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes until they just wilt. Stir into the dish.

Drizzle with additional olive oil if desired. Season to taste.

Easiest Meal Ever

Serves 2


2 servings whole wheat pasta
1/4 – 1/2 jar of tomato sauce
1 can of lentils, drained
Salt & pepper


Cook pasta according to package directions.

Heat tomato sauce in a pan with lentils (do not add the liquid from the can).

Toss together and season with salt and pepper.

Optional:  Drizzle with olive oil.

Bonus Points: ¬†Before you heat the tomato sauce, crush and chop a clove or two of garlic. Add oil to the saucepan, cook the garlic for 1-2 minutes on medium heat, then add the tomato sauce and lentils. If you’ve got some pre-washed veggies on hand, have a salad on the side. Easy, easy, easy – but still very satisfying.