I know what you're thinking. Here it is, mid-July, and the weather has taken a turn for the hot and humid. You don't feel like cooking, and the idea of serving ice cream sundaes for dinner is starting to sound appealing. You head on over to see what Jan's up to in her kitchen, and you find yourself presented with a pot of....beans. Beans?
That's right, people. Beans. The staple of fall and winter cooking is actually perfect for summer weather and here's why:
- They can be cooked in advance.
- They can be eaten cold.
- They are a powerful protein source that doesn't require you to fire up the grill.
- They can be added to any kind of salad.
- They can quickly turn into easy dinners like quesadillas and enchiladas.
- They can be mashed and used as a "sauce" on a pizza.
- They cost less than $2 for a large bag that will likely yield three or four dinners for your family.
- They cook easily.
- They freeze even easier.
- They pair well with the following: peppers, carrots, cilantro, onions, parsley, rosemary, green onions, corn, tomatoes, spinach, lettuce, seafood, tarragon, fennel, peas, radishes, thyme, celery, onions, eggplant. Essentially that means they pair well with almost anything that's in season in the summer months.
Are you convinced? I've been cooking up a pot of beans and keeping half in the fridge, while storing the remainder in the freezer.Fortunately, my boys love beans and the flavour combinations we come up with are endless. There is no real recipe for cooking beans, but I do something like this:
Fill a kettle with water and bring to a boil. Place a large bag of beans in a heat-proof bowl and cover them with the boiling water. Leave for one hour.
Drain the beans and transfer them to a dutch oven. Add one onion, peeled and chopped in half, and two bay leaves. Fill the pot with water, about three inches above the beans, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cover, cooking for an hour.
Remove the beans from the stove and allow to cool. Discard the onion halves and bay leave and season with salt, if desired.
Place half the beans in a large freezer-safe container and top with some of the cooking liquid. Cover and freeze. Drain the rest of the beans and store in the fridge for that week's salads and dinners.