Seasonal Chef: Mixed Beans

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The cold weather just doesn’t want to let up in the Northeast. It’s been a long winter, with no end in sight. I started off the New Year speaking about beans, lentils to be exact. Then over the course of the past 8 weeks I shared some fun recipes using split peas, amaranth, millet and freekeh, to name just a few. I’m finishing up with a mix of dry beans, as it seems appropriate to combine all types of beans and create something delicious with them. This particular mix comes from the Whole Foods bulk fine and has 10 different beans. In their dry form they are just beautiful. Sadly the black beans seemed to take over in the cooking process and turned the mix a bit grey. (Note to Whole Foods: perhaps leave that one out?) That said, what they lacked in vibrant color, they certainly made up for in taste. My end product of mixed beans was full of flavor and on the money.

I’ve covered cooking beans from scratch earlier this year; but let me say again, this is something you should try to do every now and then. To accomplish this task takes many hours, but almost 90% of that time is inactive, so it really is quite easy and the sense of accomplishment is worth it in the end.

soaking beans

After a soak overnight,

rinse beans

rinse the beans well

cooking beans

and place in a large pot of cold water. I used thyme and garlic for flavor, but you can easily add a carrot, celery and/or onion. Just pull out your flavoring at the end.

add salt to beans

As I mentioned in my earlier post: add your salt at the end. I never add while the beans cook. Remember: you can always add, but you can’t take out. Once the pot is off the stove add a teaspoon of salt at a time and taste, until you get the flavor to your liking. Store your beans in their cooking liquid until ready to use. They will last about 3-5 days in a sealed container in the ‘fridge. For longer storage I would suggest freezing them.

halibut and salad ingredients

What to do with my fabulous bowl of beans? Well, as I mentioned, the color of the 10 bean mix got a little dull on me, so I needed to zip it up a bit. I decided on fennel and oranges, which are in season and worked beautifully. Then added a lovely halibut filet from my favorite fish shop, Port Chester Seafood.

spice-crusted halibut

Pulling this dish together took no time at all. The beans of course were done, so while my filet cooked I prepped the fennel, orange and dressing. This is definitely an under 30 minute meal. Click this link to see my recipe for: Spice-crusted Halibut over Mixed Bean, Fennel and Orange Salad

Seasonal Chef, Maria Reina, Spice-crusted Halibut over 10 Bean, Fennel and Orange Salad

I’m sure I will never be done with beans and grains, but for now Seasonal Chef is moving on and looking forward to Spring ingredients, right around the corner. But before the arrival of Spring, we have Hudson Valley Restaurant Week to look forward to! Beginning March 10 and running through the 23rd there are many restaurants to check out in the Hudson Valley. I for one can’t wait!

In the meantime as I look at the 19 degree temperature icon on my lap top I keep reminding myself that Spring is just 21 days away. Almost close enough to touch!

Buon Appetito

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About Author

Seasonal Chef blogger Maria Reina comes to the world of food as a third career, spending a great portion of her adult life in the field of Human Resources. With her private company Bella Cucina Maria she is a personal chef, caterer and recreational cooking class teacher in Westchester. She's an avid food television watcher and cookbook collector, always looking for a new take on a traditional dish. In her free time she loves hanging out at local farmer's markets, chatting it up with the farmers and doing cooking demos with their seasonal ingredients. In addition to her blog, which is loaded with easy recipes, you can follow her on Facebook (Bella Cucina Maria), Twitter (Bellacucinam), Instagram (Bellacucinam) and Pinterest (Bellacucinam).

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