"I think it's nice that there are all different kinds of lunches and breakfasts and dinners and snacks. I think eating is nice." – Albert from Bread and Jam for Frances, by Russell C. Hoban
Dinner. It rears it’s ugly head at some point during the day and colder temps mean people want and need warm meals. It’s not that hard, if you’re at home for a few hours to put up a soup or longer cooking pot of beans but when time demands something fast, canned beans work and are tasty, filling, cheap and healthy.
Here’s an easy recipe that freezes and reheats well, a boon for busy households. Reheat it the next day with some cheese, a bit of avocado, and some salsa, or, sandwich it between two flour or corn tortillas for quick quesadillas. It’s really enough just like this but I imagine that the meat eaters would want to add in some ground beef – but then, what do you do about the cheese?
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped (optional, or use carrots if you don’t have winter squash)
2 red peppers, chopped (nice if you have them)
1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped into bite-sized pieces
4 small zucchini, chopped (peeling is optional)
Olive oil – 1-3 tbsp
2 tsp sweet paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp cumin (I might even use more but I like cumin)
2 tsp dried thyme or oregano
1 (or half) chipotle chili in adobo sauce (use a tsp of sauce). Note: If you don’t have chipotles, substitute a pinch of chili flakes (hot pepper) or some other warm spice blend, like garam masala, or another kind of dried chili.
Later add ins:
3 cans beans (pintos or black beans), drained and rinsed. Note: If they’re organic, I don’t rinse them so much but taste the can liquid. If it’s salty, drain and rinse.
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup tomato juice from the can – you can use more
Water as needed
Splash of apple juice or red wine
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional but nice) to garnish at the end.
Preparing: In a large pot or skillet, warm the olive oil and saute the onion and garlic until they soften, 5 minutes. Add the spices, chili and S&P, and saute further for another few minutes until the pan is fragrant. Taste if you wish and adjust – should be strong at this point.
Add in the veggies except for the zucchini. Cover and let them steam a bit, about 8-10 minutes. If the mixture is dry, add a splash of water or apple juice. Red wine can be used at this point but not later, as it will be too strong a flavor.
When the carrots begin to feel ever so slightly tender, add the beans and tomatoes and their liquid and some water so it has a pleasantly stewy look – make it as dry or wet as you like but don’t make soup. Cook another 10 minutes before adding the zucchini. Taste for salt and pepper as well as general spiciness.
Once the zucchini’s in, figure another 5-10 depending on how soft or firm you like your veggies.
Any combo of these: grated cheese, toasted nuts, chopped avocado, sliced red onion or scallion, and a dollop of a greek style yogurt. Don’t forget the hot sauce.
Slaw on the side and a wedge of cornbread or toasted corn or flour tortillas for scooping up some of the juices would finish it all off nicely.
Don’t forget a slightly sweet beer to soften the spiciness.