Cooking in the time of coronavirus...beans, beans the magical fruit.
Hello friends! Here hoping you’re thriving, not just surviving the Covid shutdown. I know things look bleak, and information is sporadic and often confusing, but here at the farm, we’re weathering the storm - albeit with viral symptoms these days. After consulting with our doctors, we have been advised to stay hydrated, get plenty of rest, take acetaminophen or ibuprofen for any fevers and aches, and monitor ourselves for worsening of symptoms, and go to the ER if symptoms become severe - just like any other virus. The chances of us actually having Covid-19 are low, but we are still in flu and respiratory virus season in the Northeast. We have gone full quarantine and will remain so for an additional 14 days. This, of course, doesn’t constitute medical advice in any way, shape, or form! I just thought I’d let people know what the current medical advice in our area (with confirmed cases) is as of right now.
With that in mind, it’s going to be a looooong 2 weeks with everyone sick. Good thing the pantry is stocked, the board games and Netflix stand at the ready, and we’re making the best of a bad situation. We’ve decided to see this as our time out - a way to reset, refocus on what’s important, and care for each other to the best of our ability. We’re trying to thrive and not just survive.
Today’s pantry cooking will take us to the magical shelf of beans in my pantry. In the interest of full disclosure, my family literally lives on beans - we have them with just about every meal. My youngest goes through a case of black beans every two weeks on her own - it’s a quick and nutritious snack she can pair with tortillas or rice or whatever when she’s running between activities. I don’t usually buy dried, only because we tend to be on the go most days and canned is just easier. I do have dried, just in case.
All of the recipes will assume cooked beans, so prepare your dried beans however you would normally do so this article (https://cooking.nytimes.com/guides/21-how-to-cook-beans) will show you how to cook dried beans if you’ve never done so.
Ok. Let’s dive into the world of “the magical fruit”.
Beans are another workhorse of the pantry and can stand in for meat, flour and a whole host of other applications. I am going to focus on three staple recipes here in our house that are ridiculously easy to prepare and serve. They require a minimum of ingredients, prep time is 30 minutes or less, and all can be made in the crockpot. The first is a chili my kiddos have called “eeeny beany chili” as it doesn’t use kidney beans. The second is a hummus that you just dump everything into a food processor or blender and can eat immediately. The last is a pantry minestrone that is big on flavor and uses frozen veggies (or whatever you have in the fridge) to make a pot of deliciousness that freezes well.
3 cans of beans of any variety, drained and rinsed
1 can crushed tomato (can use any canned tomato here, even tomato soup)
2 tsp onion powder (can use fresh if want - 1/2 onion, diced)
1 tsp dried adobo chiles (can use any pepper here, including fresh bell)
2 tsp chili powder (can adjust for spiciness)
1 cup frozen corn (can use canned or fresh)
Salt and pepper to taste
1. In a large pot over medium heat, add tomatoes and spices. Stir to combine.
2. Add beans and corn.
3. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
4. Serve with cheese, chopped onion, or whatever you like in or under your chili (I’m looking at you, Cinci).
NOTES: You can add fried ground beef or chicken or whatever protein you like if you want a meatier chili. I was just going for a dry pantry-only recipe here.
The easiest hummus you will ever make
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1T olive oil (may need more based on how you like your texture)
2-4 cloves of finely chopped garlic (I like mine super garlicky, so I’ll use 4 or more)*
2T lemon juice (about 1/2 fresh lemon)
1. Toss everything into blender or food processor
2. Blend away, adding olive oil as desired for consistency (you can also use water)
3. Serve with pita, crackers, veggies. Thin with water and use as a salad dressing or pizza drizzle.
* You can use garlic powder as well. I’d use 1tsp per clove and taste as you go. If you are using a food processor, no need to chop garlic, just toss it in first and pulse to chop.
Easy Minestrone - serves 4
2c cooked pasta (whatever you have on hand - shapes work best here)*
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 can beans (any variety), drained and rinsed
4c broth or prepared bouillon (veggie, chicken, whatever you have on hand)*
1tsp garlic powder
1tsp onion powder
1 tsp rosemary (or thyme)
1 bag frozen mixed vegetables (can use can each of corn, peas and green beans)*
Salt and pepper to taste
1. In a large pot on medium-high heat, place broth, beans, tomatoes, spices and veggies.
2. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes on medium-low heat
3. Add pasta and reduce heat to low. Cook for 5 minutes or until pasta is heated through.
4. Serve with parmesan, crackers, bread or whatever you have around.
This recipe freezes well as long as you don’t use gluten free noodles.
* If using gluten free noodles, cook while cooking soup and add directly to bowls. Freeze soup without noodles (just cook new noodles or use rice when reheating).
*You can use water, just add 1T soy sauce as well
* If you have some veggies about to go bad, chop them up and toss them in the soup instead - we often call this “fridge clean-out soup”.
And there you have it…three recipes that take 30 minutes or less and use items from your pantry and freezer. The hummus can be used as a cheese substitute in a pinch - drizzle over pizza fresh out of the over, as a spread for sandwiches or as a salad dressing that adds a ton of flavor to simple greens. Tomorrow I’ll be back with another list of recipes featuring another pantry staple.