For years Jack has been after me to make beans and rice on Mondays. He said it's a tradition among musicians because they blow their pay by Sunday and can't afford anything more by Monday. He may not have it exactly right, but maybe a little structure to the weekly menu isn't a bad thing. I can't always promise rice. Sometimes I like my beans with polenta, cornbread or biscuits. And since I'm a life-long vegetarian there won't be any meat. But we WILL have Monday beans.
We love tacos. We love filling the center of the table with bowls and plates of sliced onions, shredded lettuce, grated cheese, guacamole, chopped hard-boiled egg and salsas. We assemble our own with refried beans, reaching and passing and getting messy and overstuffed. It's a great casual dinner with friends or family, but what if it's just the two of us? This week I came up with a great way to have tacos with less mess by combining the taco basics -- tortillas, beans and cheese -- with one of my favorite summer dishes, chopped salad. Jack and I agree that it's now our favorite way to have tacos; every one is perfect and delicious and there are fewer dishes to wash!
Summer Salad Tacos
1 lb. Dominican Red Beans, rinsed and soaked overnight. Any beans will do. I usually make refrieds with black beans but I'm trying to branch out and these are pretty.
Drain the beans, cover with fresh water and cook until very tender with a chopped onion and a couple of bay leaves. Drain, but save the cooking liquid.
Saute in corn oil a large onion, chopped, and 3 or 4 cloves of garlic, minced. Add a couple of minced jalapeno peppers and a can of chopped tomatoes or an equivalent amount of fresh.
Add 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp ground cloves and the juice of half a lemon. Simmer for a while, then add the drained beans. Cook until the beans are falling apart. Use the cooking liquid if they get too thick. Most people mash them into a puree, but I like some texture to them. Do them however you like. Add salt -- you'll need a lot -- and correct the seasoning.
For the salad we chopped lettuce, red onions, seeded cucumber, peeled avocado, green peppers and tomatoes. I also had a small yellow squash that I diced and sauteed until brown. If I'd had fresh corn or zucchini I'd have added those too. I suppose you could dress the salad, but I left it plain.
Assemble tacos with the beans and grated cheese, then pile on the chopped salad and top with salsa.They were so good we had them again a few nights later.
Months ago I bought some dried fava beans with no specific plans for them. I confess I'd never eaten favas, fresh or dried, and like most people I can't say "fava beans" without adding "and a nice chianti" and doing that creepy rodent-like sucking thing Sir Anthony did in the movie.
It's time to try them and a turn around the interwebs led me to some ideas. These are pretty plain and very similar to previous red beans, but the favas didn't hold their shape and that made the dish thicker and heartier.
I shared with a bean-loving friend and he gave them a thumbs up. We had the leftovers with eggs for Sunday breakfast, 'cause everything's better with eggs.
Dried Favas with Chorizo
2 cups of fava beans, soaked overnight, drained. Cook in water to cover and a teaspoon of salt until just tender. Cool and peel.
Saute together in a litle olive oil:
1 large onion, chopped
1 or 2 garlic scapes, minced or a couple of cloves of garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 pkg Trader Joe's soy chorizo
Add a can of chopped tomatoes, or fresh if you're lucky enough to have vine-ripened this early. Stir together until bubbling. Add the beans and simmer together for however long you want. My beans fell apart such that there were very few whole beans left in the pot.
Correct the seasoning. I didn't add any cayenne or hot pepper flakes because the soy chorizo is perfectly spiced as is. You can season it further if you want.