Recipe: Deceptively Delicious Beans
I invite Emma over for lunch once a week so that I can try out vegetarian recipes on her, or at least that’s what I tell her– the truth is that I am attempting to fatten her up (it’s not working). I made this bean dish yesterday for Emma and I; served it with steamed, brown rice (it would have been better over a platter of french fries, but honestly, what isn’t?) In this bean dish, I add a zing of Umami, by melting a few anchovy fillets in olive oil before sautéing shallot and garlic– the anchovies leave no fishy taste, just punch up the flavour. Emma is vegetarian not for humanitarian reasons, rather simply because she doesn’t like meat, so I figured she would be alright when I broke the news to her about a few salty fish fillets. I made the unfortunate mistake of leaving the open tin of anchovies out on the kitchen counter, and as Emma walked into my cozy kitchen, she covered her mouth and nose and said, ‘It smells like FISH in here!’.
‘Are you against fish?’, I asked.
‘I don’t eat fish,’ She replied, her hand muffling her words.
‘You don’t eat fish because you are vegetarian, or you don’t eat fish because you don’t like fish?’, I asked.
‘I don’t like fish– I don’t like the fishy taste.’ She said, removing her hand from her mouth for a brief moment, only to slap it back over as soon as she sniffed the warm kitchen air.
‘Well, then you will be okay with what I have prepared for you,’ Emma looked suspicious. I continued, ‘You are smelling nothing more than the tin of anchovies I left on the counter. I’ll cover it and–’
‘Wait, what? ANCHOVIES?’ The expression on Emma’s face resided somewhere between horror and confusion.
‘Yes, but only ONE anchovy [I lied] in that HUGE pot of beans. I promise, you will never taste it and you will LOVE this dish!’ I enthused.
‘No, sorry no. I’ll make myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, ‘ She then pursed her lips together and shook her head like a defiant toddler.
‘Okay, look– try just ONE bite of my beans and if you don’t love them, I will make you a grilled cheese, deal?’ I asked, using the same tactic I use with my kindergarteners.
Emma inhaled through her mouth (so as not to capture any more fish fumes), held it, then exhaled slowly out her nose. ‘Okay,’ she relented.
I dished up just a spoonful of the beans and placed them in front of my friend. She looked at them for a long time; this was a serious aversion. She pushed the beans around her plate, examining, searching for a chunk of fish fillet. Finally, she took a very small bite, her eyes searching the space in front of her as she chewed.
‘This… this isn’t bad,’ she looked truly relieved. She ate the rest of the small serving.
‘So you will have beans for lunch?’ I asked.
‘Yes. Please.’ She relaxed and smiled sincerely.
Emma had three very large servings of beans (with anchovies) and proclaimed, at the end of lunch, that she LOVED them. I resisted the urge to say, I told you so, rather I said, ‘I’m so glad.’
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 anchovy fillets, minced (or 2 teaspoons anchovy paste)– omit to make this dish vegan
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
2 cans black beans, drained
1 can chickpeas, drained
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup chopped, pickled jalapenos (I found this pretty spicy, but Emma wanted more heat)
3/4 cup, chopped roasted red pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
1 big handful of chopped, fresh cilantro
1) Place a pot over medium-high, and heat the oil until quivering (the oil, not you). Add in the chopped anchovies and sauté until they begin to disintegrate, then add in the garlic and cook for a moment, then add in the shallot. Sauté this until the garlic and onion are soft, then chuck in everything else, except the cilantro. Cover, bring to a simmer, stir and reduce heat so that the beans are simmering gently. Cover and cook for 30 minutes, stirring often, then toss in the cilantro, stir, taste for seasoning (salt?) and serve.
Makes 4-6 servings over rice (or french fries)
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