We all have them, right? The gray v-neck. The grab and go jeans. Either a bun or pony or head wrap. Dr. Pepper, Diet Coke, or Coffee. Those things that we go back to over and over again, because one, they fill the need. Two, they are usually fast. But most importantly, they always work and require little thought. In our house, we call those our “go tos”. My husband has even had a “go to” cardigan…when he was in THAT phase. Every once in awhile, we might even dress up whichever staple we’re hooked on to fool people into thinking that we haven’t worn that t-shirt 3 times this week. But under it all, is the old faithful.
I’m not sure where you fall in the cooking realm. An elaborate gourmet, an out of the box simplest, or somewhere in between…but I’m willing to bet you have that one item or recipe that you go back to often. It could be a whole meal, a side, or even a snack. I actually have a few, but there is one that has truly become a staple in the Jenson household.
Simple. Cheap. Healthy. And made right, delicious! About a year and half ago, I started trying to fancy up the occasional taco night with black beans. They are, of course, the fancy bean.
But to my dismay, poured out of the can and heated up, they tasted nothing like the delicious bowls at the mexican restaurants we loved. Flat and boring. Generally, not that great. I did what I always do when faced with this dilemma. Troll these inter-webs.
And then I discovered a new go to. CUMIN!!! It’s a miracle I tell you. And with a little extra effort you can dress up even a can of black beans. Or if you want to be even more delicious and economical, dry beans. Now we literally have a large container of beans in the fridge at all times. Here are a few things we use them for:
- Rice and Beans-I love to top with fresh lime juice, cilantro and some kind of cheese like cotija or even feta. Trader Joe’s frozen brown rice packets make this an even speedier meal.
- Eggs with Black beans and salsa.
- As a side for just about anything-I either dress it up, like above, or eat it plain.
- Taco or Burrito Bowls.
- Black Bean soup.
Seriously, I probably eat them 3 times a week on average. So without further ado…
How to make your own “go to” black beans:
- Finely chop 1/2 onion and a few cloves garlic. But keep them separated. (I throw them in my food processor, cause I’m lazy)
- Heat a tbsp or so of olive oil in the pot you plan to simmer your beans in. Sauté onions on med high/high for a couple minutes, then throw in the garlic. I always wait a minute or so to give the onions a head start, I hate burnt garlic. After 30 sec or so, liberally dump cumin on top and let it all sauté together. Add a bay leaf and if you have it, a tsp of chicken bouillon. You can omit that and just salt more heavily to taste.
- It should all be a paste now and sticking to the pan. Add either 3-4 cans of beans, or a bag of drained presoaked beans and enough chicken broth or water combo to cover by about an inch. The broth or water is only if you are going from dried, soaked beans.
- Scrape the spice bits off the bottom as your stir it together. Now for canned beans, simmer as long as you have time before you need to eat. Sometimes for me that is 5 minutes. Sometimes 30. It’s that simple. For dried beans, you are looking at usually 1-1 1/2 hours. *Tip I often do all these steps and then cook the beans in my pressure cooker.
- Take out the bay leaf. Taste and add more cumin if you want and salt to taste. I personally love using my pressure cooker, and some people have great luck with beans using a crock pot or slow cooker, as well.
Easy Peasy. My go to.
If you have a go to dish, please share!
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