Wednesday, March 18, 2009

1 Bag of Beans, 3 Meals

Thankful for the Lenten Season. I've noticed many of you have slowed down or postponed blogging until after Lent, and I hope you don't mind if I join the technology slow-down during this Blessed Season of Fasting.

One handy offering for you: how to stretch a $.97 bag of beans.
I started with a one-pound bag of navy beans.

First Meal - Smothered Beans-N-Greens to Pre-sanctified Liturgy
Second Meal - Not-Tunafish Salad
Third meal - pulled out of the freezer for a quick supper - Bean Soup

These meals worked for us - a family of 4 - but I think you could double them for larger crews. Enjoy, and may your spiritual journey be blessed!

Smothered Beans-N-Greens
Adapted from one of my favorite's: The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen by Peter Berley.

1 bag of beans (the original recipe called for 1/4 cup of pintos and 1 cup of Great Northern - but we're cooking extras on purpose)
3 TBS oil
4-6 onions, sliced
3 garlic cloves, diced fine
1 tsp dried oregeno
1&1/2 tsp salt
1 bag of frozen chopped spinach
1 can of chopped tomatoes
black pepper

The Steps:
1. The night before you want to make Smothered Beans, put your rinsed and sorted beans in the crockpot with plenty of water. Leave on low while you sleep. In the morning, turn them off and put in the fridge. You could also start this the morning-of if you're not super busy.

Day of - heat oven to 275.

2. Warm oil in a heavy pan, and add onions, oregano, and 1 tsp of salt.
3. Saute 5 minutes, until onions are soft. Cover and simmer 10 minutes or however long it takes to make them caramelly. Remove lid and stir every so often. Add garlic when the onions have another minute or two left.

4. While waiting on the onions, pull out the beans and drain them - SAVING the COOKING LIQUID!
*** Measure 1&1/2 cups of cooking liquid to use in this recipe.***
*** Rinse the drained beans, adding the run-off to the left-over cooking liquid. This will become your soup for meal #3.***

5. Thaw spinach in a microwave safe bowl, then dump2/3 of onions on it. Stir.

6. For later meals, pour the other 1/3 of onions into the left-over cooking liquid. Also, drain the tomato liquid into this future soup.Give it a whir with the hand-blender if your kids will not like the visible onion.

7. Assemble: Place half the greens mixture in a casserole. Add 3 cups of rinsed beans. Spread the remaining greens over the beans and top with the tomatoes. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 tsp of salt and some black pepper. Without disturbing the layers, gently pour enough of your 1&1/2 cups of bean liquid down the side of the casserole to barely cover the tomatoes.

8. Cover and bake for 1 hour. Add a little more water if you think it is drying out. Replace cover and braise for 20-30 more minutes. *Since I brought this to church for potluck, instead of the 275 oven at home, I just put it in the 250 warm oven at church with everyone else's stuff to braise for 1 & 1/2 hours. It was fine.

Set aside 1&1/2 cups of rinsed beans for tomorrow's meal, then add the rest to the soup and freeze.

Meal #2 - "Not Tuna-fish Salad"
Mix beans with whatever your family likes in Tuna-salad. We used mayo, mustard, and sweet relish. Serve with crackers or in sandwiches.

Another variation: beans, oil, balsamic vigegar, oregeno, parsley, onions, tomatoes.

Meal #3 - "Bean Soup"
1. Thaw beans and liquid.
2. Add to a pan with left-over spaghetti sauce or tomato sauce and spices you like.
3. Bring to boil, then turn down and simmer for 20 minutes.
4. Add a handful of un-cooked pasta and a diced potato and simmer for 10-15 minutes longer.

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