Home Cooking: Beans and grains make everything better
I recently read an article about the nutritional value of beans and grains. Which was, frankly, a relief since they’re often thought of as off limits in the age of low-carb diets.
Beans, in particular, are valuable sources of protein and fiber, and grains contain important vitamins as well as, yes, energy providing carbs.
Since grains and beans are inexpensive and downright comforting, the good news about their nutritional value got me thinking about how they can be added to familiar salads and casseroles to add depth of flavor and substance. The following recipes are quick, easy and can be served as sides or become the main course with the addition of a protein.
Southwestern green beans and chickpeas
This dish is so simple, yet completely addictive. A great side dish.
- 1 pound green beans, par-boiled for three minutes
- 1 15-ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 teaspoon Southwest seasoning, such as chipotle pepper with lime seasoning
Place the green beans and chickpeas on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with olive oil and chipotle lime seasoning. Broil for 5–10 minutes 5 inches from the heat source, checking often. You want the beans and peas toasty but not burnt.
Arugula, quinoa, beet, avocado and carrot salad
If you’re tired of salads, try this one. With vibrant colors and vegetables you might not usually add to your salad, I guarantee you’ll come back again and again. It’s delicious.
- 4 cups baby arugula
- 2/3 cup cooked quinoa
- 3 beets, peeled, cooked and cut into matchsticks
- 3 carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
- 1 or 2 avocados, sliced
Combine ingredients and top with thinly sliced steak and a simple vinaigrette dressing. ( 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard and salt and pepper to taste.)
Arugula and white bean salad
I discovered this salad at a church potluck at Our Lady of Peace in Silverthorne (brought by Kathleen). I generally find white beans bland, but the sharp bitterness of arugula was the perfect foil for the creamy beans. Try a white wine vinegar in your vinaigrette.
- 1 14-ounce can of Northern or cannellini beans drained and rinsed
- 4 cups packed baby arugula
Toss beans and arugula together, top with a mild vinaigrette, serve with a piece of oven-roasted salmon. (Vinaigrette: 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon white or red wine vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon tarragon and salt and pepper to taste.)
Zucchini, rice and cheddar casserole
Comfort food supreme. I’ve made this twice in the past week, once with zucchini and rice and once with broccoli and quinoa. So delicious, I ate the leftovers for breakfast.
- 1 1/2 pounds zucchini, grated (or one head of broccoli cut into small pieces and lightly roasted at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes)
- 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar
- 1 1/2 cups cooked rice
- 1 cup cooked lentils
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt
- 1 cup milk or half and half
- Salt, pepper and paprika to taste (or Southwest seasoning)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Put the shredded zucchini into a strainer, sprinkle with salt and allow to drain for 15-20 minutes. Wrap zucchini in a dish towel and squeeze to remove liquid. Meanwhile, mix the eggs, yogurt, milk and seasonings. In a lightly greased 9-by-9 circular or square baking dish, toss together the zucchini, cheese and cooked rice (or quinoa). Pour the egg custard mixture over the vegetables. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake for 40-50 minutes until cooked through.
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s column “Home Cooking” publishes biweekly on Thursdays in the Summit Daily News. Anderson taught herself to cook after college when she discovered dinner parties were a cure for loneliness. Her latest cookbook is “A Year in the Mountains Cookbook.” She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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