Protein Power! 4 Vegetarian Black Bean Recipes for Meatless Monday

Protein Power! 4 Vegetarian Black Bean Recipes for Meatless Monday

As far as vegetarian sources of protein go, black beans are a fantastic option. Like other beans and legumes, black beans are also a great source of fiber and antioxidants, and they have been attributed with health benefits linked to improved digestion, heart health, decreased cancer risk, weight loss, and more. But on top of that, black beans are also just plain delicious and striking on the plate with their rich, dark color. We’ve rounded up four of our favorite vegetarian black bean recipes, just in time for Meatless Monday.

This black bean hummus is a lovely choice as either a dip or a sandwich spread. The hummus itself is flavored with tahini, lime juice, and cumin, along with a touch of chili powder and some fresh cilantro. This combo of flavors takes a few cues from traditional hummus, with the tahini and some fresh garlic, but it also features some ingredients more commonly used in Mexican-influenced vegetarian black bean recipes, including the cumin, chili powder, and lime juice. Serve this either with dippers, like your favorite crackers and crudités, or as a base for open-faced tartines that you can assemble at the table, with your favorite bread, sliced veggies, and lettuce.

black bean soup

Image by Emily Monaco

Puréed black beans make the thick and flavorful base of this spiced black bean soup, which is rich, creamy and vegan. One of the secrets is starting with a base of perfectly cooked black beans; don’t soak them before cooking them, and you’ll end up with an even richer color. Avocado adds even more creaminess to the soup and forms a foil for the spices, which include ancho chile powder, cumin, and coriander.

Protein Power! 4 Vegetarian Black Bean Recipes for Meatless Monday

Black bean burritos image via Shutterstock

These black bean burritos have not one but two vegetarian sources of protein in the filling: quinoa and black beans. Cook your own organic black beans with cumin and chili powder for even more flavor (and to stay away from BPA in canned foods). While cheese is an option, with the vegetables, corn, spices, and cilantro-lime scented quinoa, you’ll probably find you don’t need or want it. If you do want to add something a little bit creamy to the finished dish, homemade guacamole is a great option.

Black Bean Quinoa Burgers with Carmelized Onions, Jalapeños, Avocado and Blistered Kale

Image: John Klein

These black bean burgers are gluten-free and rich in protein, as quinoa is featured in the burger mix itself in place of the more traditional breadcrumbs. They’re also extremely flavorful, with cilantro, red onion, jalapeño, coriander, cumin, and ancho chile. Served with avocado and blistered kale, these burgers are just as rich in nutrients as they are in flavor.

Organic Bean is available to purchase at SFMart.com

This article is originally posted on Organic Authority

How To Cook Perfectly Tender Lentils on the Stove

 (Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Dried lentils are a year-round staple in my pantry, essential for rounding out salads during hot weather and hearty soups in the winter months. Regardless of the season, their quick-cooking, no-soak-required nature makes them ideal for healthy weeknight meals. Worried about mushy lentils? I have a trick for that, too.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Which Lentils to Buy for Weeknight Meals

For weeknight meals, I like keeping green or brown lentils in our cupboard. These cook quickly and evenly without becoming mushy and are the most versatile for our recipes. Yellow, red, and orange lentils are fantastic, but since they tend to get mushy when cooked, they are usually best added to soups and sauces rather than cooked on their own.

It’s also important to buy the freshest lentils you can find and then use them within a few months. Older lentils take longer to cook and tend to shed their skins during cooking. You may also see tiny white flecks where the lentil started to sprout. They’re still tasty and entirely edible, but just not as presentation-worthy.

Avoiding Mushy Lentils

After trying many different cooking methods for lentils, I have found that the most reliable way to cook perfectly tender lentils is to bring them to a rapid simmer, then reduce the heat to low for the rest of cooking. You want to see just a few bubbles in the water and some gentle movement in the lentils. They will plump up nicely without splitting their skins or becoming mushy.

The other trick is to wait to add the salt or any acidic ingredients until the lentils are done cooking. These ingredients can cause the lentils to stay crunchy even when fully cooked. If you stir in the salt while the lentils are still warm, they will absorb just enough to taste fully seasoned.

Using Your Lentils Lentils

Once cooked, your lentils are ready for any kind of culinary action you want to throw at them. They can be tossed into both green salads and grain salads, used in sandwich wraps, added to soups and chilis, or even made into veggie burgers. Some nights, I love a simple bowl of warm lentils tossed with good olive oil and vinegar with a poached egg to complete the meal.

How To Cook Lentils on the Stove

What You Need

Ingredients

  • 1 cupdried green, brown, or French lentils
  • 2 cupswater
  • 1bay leaf, garlic clove, or other seasonings (optional)
  • 1/4 to 3/4 teaspoonsalt
  • Equipment
  • Measuring cups
  • Strainer or colander
  • Small saucepan

Instructions

  1. Rinse the lentils: Measure the lentils into a strainer or colander. Pick over and remove any shriveled lentils, debris, or rocks. Thoroughly rinse under running water.
  2. Combine the lentils and water: Transfer the rinsed lentils to a saucepan and pour in the water. Add any seasonings being used, reserving the salt.
  3. Bring to a rapid simmer, then reduce heat: Bring the water to a rapid simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to maintain a very gentle simmer. You should only see a few small bubbles and some slight movement in the lentils.
  4. Cook the lentils: Cook, uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes. Add water as needed to make sure the lentils are just barely covered.
  5. Salt the lentils: Lentils are cooked as soon as they are tender and no longer crunchy. Older lentils may take longer to cook and shed their outer skins as they cook. Strain the lentils and remove the bay leaf, if used. Return the lentils to the pan and stir in 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Taste and add additional salt as needed.
  6. Storing cooked lentils: Cooked lentils will keep refrigerated for about a week. Season them with olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, fresh herbs, and eat them on their own. Lentils can also be added to soups, salads, or other recipes.

Organic Lentils is available to purchase at SFMart.com

This article is originally posted on The Kitchn

How To Cook Brown Rice

Knowing how to cook a good pot of brown rice is an essential kitchen skill. I’m talking about tender, chewy brown rice that goes equally well with a quick stir-fry as it does with slices of roasted chicken. Forget the crunchy or mushy stuff that you may have suffered through in the past — we’ve got our method locked down. It’s time to discover how great brown rice can be.

Which Brown Rice to Buy

Look for medium- or long-grain brown rice. (Short-grain brown rice cooks slightly differently, so skip it for this method.)

Long-grain rice (above) and short-grain rice (below).

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

Uncooked brown rice can be stored in the cupboard, but is best used within a few months of purchasing. If you don’t cook with brown rice very often, storing it in the fridge will help keep it fresh for longer. If you have an open bag of rice, or if you bought your rice from a bulk bin, transfer it to an airtight container for storing.

If you’ve had some brown rice sitting in the back of your cupboard for more than a year, it’s probably best to toss it and pick up a fresh bag. The oils in the rice go rancid over time and can make the rice taste overly bitter and unpalatable.

Rinse and Toast for Better Brown Rice

Rinsing your rice before cooking it washes away any grit or dust that may have gotten mixed in during production. I also find that rinsing helps improve the texture of the rice; it’s less crucial than rinsing white rice, but still helps to make each grain distinct.

Toasting the rice won’t change its texture, but it gives the rice a more deeply nutty, toasted flavor. Just sauté the rice in a little olive oil before adding the water, and stir until the rice smells fragrant and you can see a touch of golden color here and there. This is a totally optional step, but if the earthy flavor of brown rice is what has kept you from eating it in the past, then you might find that you like brown rice better after toasting.

Don’t Skip The Resting Step

And finally, after cooking, let your rice rest off the heat with the lid on for about 10 minutes. This pause before serving helps the rice absorb the last of the moisture in the pot. If you skip it, the rice can be a little sticky and gummy when scooping it from the pot instead of light and fluffy.

Ways to Enjoy Brown Rice

Brown rice is truly a kitchen staple — willing and able to be used in all sorts of ways. It’s a side dish on its own, the base of a grain bowl or an easy lunch salad, a filling for burritos, or the start of a casserole. I often make a double batch for dinner and keep the leftovers in the fridge to use up during the week.

Since brown rice takes some time to cook, I also freeze bags of cooked grainsfor nights when I don’t have time to cook a fresh batch. It’s an easy way to make sure I always have some grains on hand when I need them.

How To Cook Brown Rice

Makes about 3 cups

What You Need

Ingredients

  • 1 cupmedium- or long-grain brown rice
  • 1 teaspoonolive oil or sesame oil, optional
  • 2 cupswater
  • 1 teaspoonsalt
  • Equipment
  • Strainer or colander
  • 1-quart (or larger) pot with tight-fitting lid

Instructions

  1. Rinse the rice: Place the rice in a large strainer or colander and rinse it thoroughly under cool water. There is no need to dry the rice before cooking; a bit of moisture on the rice is fine.
  2. Toast the rice (optional): Warm a teaspoon of oil over medium-high heat in the pot where you’ll cook the rice. Add the rice and toast until the rice is dry and starting to look slightly toasted on the tips. It will also start to smell fragrant and nutty.
  3. Combine the rice and water: Slowly pour the water into the pot with the rice — if you toasted the grains, the water will steam and bubble at first. Stir in a teaspoon of salt.
  4. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cover. Make sure the liquid stops boiling and has reduced to a bare simmer over low heat, then cover the pot.
  5. Cook for 45 minutes. Do not uncover the pot to check the rice during cooking.
  6. Check the rice: At the end of the cooking time, remove the cover and check to see if all the water has been absorbed; a little water on the very bottom is fine, but if there’s more than a tablespoon, drain off the excess. At this point, the rice should also be chewy and tender, and no longer crunchy. If it’s still crunchy, add a little more water (if needed) and continue cooking; check every 10 minutes until the rice is done.
  7. Cover and let stand another 10 to 15 minutes: Take the rice off heat, and place the lid back on top. Let the rice stand another 10 to 15 minutes, covered. This last step prevents the rice from becoming overly sticky and helps it lose that wet, “just-steamed” texture.
  8. Fluff and serve: Use a fork to fluff the rice, then transfer it to a serving dish. Serve while warm.
  9. Store the leftovers: Let any leftovers cool completely, then transfer to storage containers. Refrigerate rice for 3 to 5 days. Brown rice can also be frozen for up to 3 months.

Organic Brown Rice is available to purchase at SFMart.com

This article is originally posted on The Kitchn