Spanish Style Chicken & Beans

Ah…a nice soupy-stew with warm flavors of saffron, garlic and lots of Manzilla olives, nice and salty, lets summer linger on a little longer. This is a flavorful pot of beans to have on the stove to enjoy throughout the weekend. It’s great served piping hot for those cool summer evenings and nice at room temperature for those hot afternoons, especially when thickened a bit. Serve with a full bodied Spanish olive oil to drizzle over your chicken and beans and a bowl of chopped olives and capers, so everyone can top their bowls as they like. Enjoy!

  • 1/2 pound Great Northern Beans, soaked overnight
  • 1 whole chicken breast, bone in, skin on, cut into pieces
  • 1 medium size Russet potato, peeled and diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • a few dashes of piri piri hot sauce
  • 4 cups of water
  • generous pinch saffron
  • generous pinch epazote
  • generous pinch ground annatto
  • handful of Manzanilla olives, sliced or halved
  • a few capers
  • sea salt

Heat up the olive oil in a large Dutch oven, until sizzling hot. Season the chicken with sea salt and add to the pot, being careful, as the oil can splatter. Turn the chicken pieces so they lightly brown. Add in the garlic and shallot, giving it a good stir so they turn translucent. It should only take a few minutes. Add in the rest of the ingredients, except for the olives, capers and sea salt and cover. On high heat, bring up to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, lower the heat to a low setting and allow to simmer for about an hour and a half, until the beans are tender, stirring occasionally. If you would like your soup a little thicker, remove the lid and increase the heat, until it thickens. Add in the olives and capers until warmed through. Adjust the seasoning, depending on the saltiness of the olives and capers. Serves 4. Double the recipe if using a pound of beans.

DSC03535/chicken and beans

Buttery Strascinati & Fava Beans with Tomatoes

As crazy as it may sound, I was in the mood to make a pasta dish over the weekend in this heatwave we are having. It sat on the stove, I enjoyed a little and then put it in the fridge and forgot about it until about midnight…(I know, is that the worst for a dieter? Let’s not forget the pasta. What was I thinking? I can just give pasta a glance and gain a pound. I had a costly, momentary lapse and was only thinking of having something delicious to eat.) And it was cold, refreshing with lemon flavor and dee-licious…The perfect thing to enjoy at midnight during a heatwave. Enjoy!

  • 1/2 pound strascinati, cooked al dente
  • 3/4 pound fresh fava beans in the pods, or about 3/4 cup shelled
  • 5 small Campari tomatoes, quartered and sliced
  • juice of half a lemon
  • heaping teaspoon lemon thyme leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • sea salt

Bring a potful of water to a boil. In the meantime, cut the fava beans in half. Blanch the beans for about 2-3 minutes, until the outer shell separates from the inner beans. Drain and allow to cool until you are able to handle them. Discard the outer shell and set aside the inner beans.

In a saucepan, combine the butter and olive oil on low to medium heat until melted. Add in the tomatoes and the lemon thyme leaves. Saute for about 5 minutes, until the tomatoes break down, stirring occasionally. Add in the lemon juice and sea salt, cooking for about a minute or two more. Toss in the strascinati and the fava beans until warmed through. Adjust the seasoning as needed. Garnish with fresh lemon thyme leaves and a drizzle of olive oil when serving, along with a lemon wedge. Serves 2.

Pinto Beans with Spinach

A side of beans is a nice warm weather staple. But they are usually laden with sugar, (which I love but it doesn’t help my waistline whittle away or the sugar cravings I get after having a helping, as I help myself to some more, lol) A great remedy for this is making my own pot of beans and I like to toss in some spinach to up my greens intake. This is nice served as a side dish at a barbecue or served with rice as a main meal for your meatless meal nights. These are especially good-room temperature. Serve with a creamy avocado wedge sprinkled with cayenne pepper or top with a fruity balsamic vinegar. Enjoy!

  • 1 pound pinto beans, soaked overnight
  • 5 cups water
  • 4 cups roughly chopped, tightly packed spinach
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 sliced bacon, minced
  • 1 cup chopped red onion, (about 1 medium onion)
  • a few inner celery stalks, chopped
  • cayenne pepper
  • sea salt
  • ground black pepper

In a Dutch oven, combine the olive oil, bacon, onion and saute on low heat for about 5 minutes until the onion is translucent. Add the beans and give them a good stir followed by adding the water, celery and spices. Bring the beans up to a boil on high heat, then lower the heat to a low setting and cook for about an hour and a half, until the beans are nice and tender. Remove from the heat and stir in the spinach, until wilted. Adjust the seasonings as needed. Serves about 6 or more. This makes a nice, big pot of beans.

Porcini Scented Beans with Balsamic Portabella Mushrooms

I love mushrooms and I found these great porcini mushroom bouillon cubes at Fairway and they make just about everything extra special and this includes a good old pot of beans. Pair them up with super flavorful balsamic portabella mushrooms for a little fancy feast. Enjoy!

  • 2 1/2 cups Great Northern Beans, soaked overnight
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • a few allspice berries
  • 1 porcini mushroom bouillon cube
  • sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil plus 4 tablespoons for the mushrooms
  • 4 portabella mushrooms, sliced or a 6 oz. package
  • a small shallot, thinly sliced, about 4 heaping tablespoons
  • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • a few capers in brine, given a quick rinse

In a Dutch oven, combine the beans, water, bay leaf and berries, cover and bring to a boil on high heat. Skim the surface of any foam. Once it comes to a boil, add the tablespoon of olive oil and the bouillon cube and dissolve, lower the heat to low and simmer for an hour and 15 minutes, until the beans are tender. Add any sea salt if needed. In a large saucepan, combine the remaining olive oil and the shallots on low heat until the shallots are translucent. Add in the mushrooms and lightly brown on one side, about 3 minutes or so. Turn and add in the balsamic vinegar. Allow the mushrooms to soften and the balsamic vinegar to reduce, about another 3 minutes. Toss in the capers and adjust the seasoning as needed. Drizzle with a fruity balsamic vinegar to finish the mushrooms or have a balsamic glaze at the table so everyone can top their own mushrooms. Discard the bay leaf and berries and garnish with any fresh chopped herbs you have on hand. Great as leftovers. Serves 4.


Black Beans with Guanciale

Guanciale…I had no idea what it was until this past Sunday, when I googled it; found out and was confused, yet excited enough to put it in my basket for purchase. Pork cheeks. Hmm…Standing in the supermarket staring at this package with a little bewilderment, I thought to myself, this fatty piece needs to be in a pot of black beans, even though I never tried it or have even cooked with it before. But it somehow reminded me of authentic Spanish black beans with pieces of pork and thought this new discovery could be a very nice substitute. Boy, was I wrong in leaving this guanciale in a dicey chunk form. Thinking that I love a good chunk of pork in my beans, why not a chunk of pork cheek? This is a creation of another form, flavorful but only in thin slices or in small bites, not chunks. And when I started cooking with it, thinking it was similar to bacon that it would melt and give off a fat to saute the garlic and onions in, I was wrong. It strangely stayed in chunk form but turned translucent, almost like frying jello. I never saw anything like this before and it required a slight do over that was worth the extra effort and made a magical pot of beans. Enjoy!

  • 1 pound dried black beans, soaked overnight
  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 pound finely diced guanciale
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion, (1 medium)
  • 5 cloves of garlic or more
  • 1 cubanelle pepper, finely diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • pinch dried epazote
  • 1 teaspoon fruity balsamic vinegar
  • sea salt
  • ground black pepper

The package that striked my fancy in the first place that was laying among an assortment of cheeses, salamis and sausages:

The piece of meat that they call “Guanciale“ that had me at hello:

The chunks that were a mistake, despite their initial allure:

To make your black bean magic, in a large Dutch oven, combine the guanciale and the olive oil, saute until translucent, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Next add in the onions, garlic and cubanelle pepper and saute another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in your beans and add in the water, bay leaf, sea salt and the epazote. Cover and bring to a boil on high heat. Once your beans have come to a boil, lower the heat to low and simmer covered for 50 minutes, stirring occasionally as once the water reduces, your beans can stick to the bottom of the pot. Stir in your balsamic vinegar, (I used an apple balsamic vinegar) and adjust the seasoning adding salt and black pepper as needed. Simmer for another 10 minutes. This is even better the next day! Serves 6.

Dilled Bean, Collard Green & Kielbasa Stew

You wouldn’t think that spring has arrived here on the east coast. It feels more like February today more than anything else. I took Daisy for a walk and were my hands freezing, as I forgot my gloves! But it’s April, so I didn’t think I really needed them anyway. And at one point of our walk, I wish that I had a hat on, also. But this kind of chilly weather is perfect for a stew! This is a nice stew that will use up any leftover ham from Easter and use a quick soak method for the beans, if you want to make this for a late night dinner. While this stew is really hearty, the dill gives it that touch of spring. Enjoy!

  • 1 pound Great Northern beans, soaked overnight.
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 bunch of collard greens, about 8 loosely packed, heaping cups. (Remove the center stem of the leaves, just cut down alongside the center stem and pile the leaves on top of each other cutting them roughly)
  • 1 cup chopped kielbasa
  • 1 cup chopped ham
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 5 cloves of garlic, smashed and minced
  • 1 Campari tomato, minced
  • 3 heaping tablespoons minced dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon tomato paste
  • about 5 juniper berries
  • sea salt
  • ground black pepper

In a large Dutch oven, combine the olive oil and the garlic and on low heat lightly saute for 5 minutes until the garlic is soft, you don’t want to let it brown. Stir in the beans, juniper berries, a pinch of sea salt and the water, cover and bring to a boil on high heat. (You don’t want to add too much salt, because it depends on the saltiness of the kielbasa and ham.) Once it boils, lower the heat to the lowest setting and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Next, toss in your collard greens, kielbasa, ham, tomato and tomato paste and simmer for half and hour, stirring occasionally. (You can use either kielbasa or ham and it will be equally delicious. And if you have leeks on hand, you can also throw in a cup of finely chopped leeks.) Adjust the seasoning, adding pepper and salt if needed and stir in the dill. Discard the juniper berries and garnish with fresh dill. Serves 6.

Great Northern Beans & Oil

This past Sunday was one of those Sundays where I just wanted to veg on the couch and watch some movies. There was a nice amount of snow on the ground from Friday’s storm and it still felt like the familiar comfort and coziness of winter, despite the time change and promise of spring. I just wanted to relish in the last weekend of winter complete with a pot bubbling away on the stove. Once you set this pot on the stove, it’s minimal effort to a filling and flavorful dinner. Because this recipe is simple, you want to use good quality ingredients. If you want, you can use more walnut oil and less olive oil. The walnut oil gives this dish the extra richness and creaminess that makes this simple pot of beans extra special. Enjoy!

  • 1 pound dried Great Northern Beans, soaked overnight
  • 5 cups water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons roasted walnut oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • about 5 allspice berries
  • pink Himalayan sea salt (I’m obsessed with this salt right now but any sea salt will be just fine.)

In a large Dutch oven, combine all of the ingredients. (You want to use a nice amount of salt.) Cover and bring to a boil. Once it boils, uncover and lower the heat to low. Simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. The water evaporates and it becomes a creamy almost mash. Discard the bay leaf and allspice and adjust the seasoning if needed. Serve with an extra drizzle of olive or walnut oil and a little fresh ground black pepper. This is nice as a main meal when served with rice and sauteed spinach with garlic. This is great to have in the fridge as a quick side dish. Serves about 4.

Sage Turkey Cutlets with Mushrooms & Beans

Ahh…the beginning of November. Visions of Thanksgiving dinners are dancing in my head and I can’t wait for all the flavors of that day. And you don’t have to wait till Thanksgiving day and have these treasured flavors tonight. Herb-y sag-ed turkey and sweet mashed potatoes with a little creamy gravy. Beans add a little extra creaminess to the dish but you can always skip them if you are not a fan. The best part of this meal, is it doesn’t take hours to make, about an hour tops! And if you are craving that pumpkin pie at the end of this meal, you can always make Pumpkin Pie Greek Yogurt! Enjoy!

  • 1 pound turkey cutlets
  • 10 oz. button mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cups cooked great northern beans
  • heaping 1/4 cup flour
  • pinch ground sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon marjoram leaves
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 champigion mushroom bouillon cube, (or any type of mushroom)
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 3 small sage leaves
  • ground black pepper
  • sea salt

Combine the flour, ground sage, salt and pepper. Adjust the seasoning if needed. Dredge the turkey cutlets in the flour and set aside. In a Dutch oven, melt the butter on medium heat, until sizzling. In batches, add the turkey and brown for a few minutes on each side. Once brown, set aside. Add the mushrooms and stir until they get a little brown. They can burn, so keep an eye on them. Dissolve the mushroom bouillon in the hot water and pour over the mushrooms. (You can use 1/2 to 3/4 cube of the mushroom bouillon, to reduce the sodium.) Scrape the bottom of the pot, to bring up any brown bits. Increase the heat and bring to a boil. Once the broth is boiling, lower the heat to low and add the turkey, any accumulated juices, the sage leaves and marjoram. Simmer for 10 minutes covered, occasionally moving the cutlets around, so they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot. After 10 minutes, turn the cutlets over and add the beans, simmer for another 10 minutes, until the broth thickens to a light gravy. Serve with quick mashed sweet potoates. Cook 4 sweet poatoes, cut into similar sizes, and cook until fork tender. Add in 2 tablespoons unsalted butter and 2 tablespoons heavy cream or milk, salt and ground pepper, mash until combined well. Adjust the seasonings as needed. Makes 4 servings.