When It’s Automatic…..

There are days that become so hectic that you can barely think and when it comes to a meal, the easy approach is to dial the local takeout. Yes, that’s an option, but when that’s part of the overall lifestyle choice is when problems arise. I choose to have recipes that are so ingrained in my head that even at my most exhausted, I can do them. Part of it involves a degree of planning when my brain isn’t frazzled with exhaustion.

The one thing I always like to have around are cooked beans: pinto, navy, kidney, garbanzo, black beans. They’re all good. Plopping out of a can is an option for many, but I don’t like the chemical softening involved in canning beans. Some do the pre-soak overnight method with their dried beans when cooking. I prefer what is known as the “quick soak” method. I cover dried beans (of any variety, except lentils, which require no pre-soak) with plenty of water, bring to a boil for five minutes, covered, turn off the heat and allow to sit, still covered for an hour. Drain them, cover with five to six times more water than bean volume, bring to a boil and cook for 45-60 minutes depending on the variety. Old dried beans will take longer, but I have a constant rotation in my home and I purchase my dried beans from health food or organic stores that have a healthy rotation of beans themselves, so the beans I use are never “old.”

With my cooked beans, I bag them in 1 cup portions in freezer bags and pull them out when I need a “can” of beans for a dish. It’s a quick protein and oftentimes, I can throw them frozen into whatever dish I’m doing so I don’t need them thawed.

My go-to “automatic” bean dish are Refried Beans with Homemade Wheat-Flax Flatbreads.

Wheat-Flax Flatbreads

1 cup Gold Forest Grains soft white flour

2 cups Gold Forest Grains red fife or park wheat flour

1/4 cup Gold Forest Grains flax seed

1-1/2 Tbsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup Mighty Trio Organics cold pressed canola oil

1 tsp rice wine vinegar

1/2-3/4 cup warm water

In a large bowl, combine the flours, flax, baking powder and salt. Add the oil and work it in with a fork, then with your fingers until crumbly. Add the vinegar and 1/2 cup warm water and stir in with a fork. Start to work it with your fingers, squeezing and kneading to see if there’s enough moisture. Some conditions (humidity, grain moisture, etc) affect the amount of water needed from batch to batch. If the mixture is still dry, add a tablespoon or two of water and knead some more. Turn the mixture out on to the counter and start to knead more. It should take upwards of ten minutes of kneading to get a smooth, yet not sticky dough. Split dough into 12 equal balls of dough and allow to rest on the counter for 15-20 minutes.

Preheat a nonstick pan or cast iron pan over medium heat on the stove.

Roll out a ball of dough into rough 15-20cm(6-8″) rounds about 1/4cm(1/8″) thick. Griddle the rolled dough round in the preheated pan on one side for 90 seconds-2 minutes, or until lightly speckled with brown. Turn and brown for another 45-60 seconds. Repeat with remaining dough balls. Set aside.

Refried Beans

2 tsp Mighty Trio Organics cold pressed canola oil

1 cup Riverbend Gardens yellow onion, chopped

2 Doef’s Greenhouses red chillis, chopped

1 small can tomato paste

2 tsp August Organics dried oregano

1/2 tsp, each, dried chilli and salt

1/2 cup water

1 cup cooked beans (I like pinto, navy, kidney or black beans for this)

In a large wide-bottomed pan, sauté the onions and red chilli in oil over medium high heat, until softened, but not browned. Add the tomato paste and stir to coat the onions and chillis, allowing the heat to “toast” the tomato paste slightly. It should start to get a faint caramel-like scent rising, before adding the dried oregano, chilli, salt and water. Stir together to loosen the tomato paste into a sauce. Add the cooked beans. If they’re frozen cooked beans, simmer for 5-7 minutes to heat them through. If they’re freshly cooked, mash the beans in the mixture slightly with a potato masher or a fork (this should be done to the frozen beans after they’ve been heated as well). It doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s preferable to be rustic about it. If the mixture gets too thick and stodgy, add a few tablespoons of water, stir to combine and simmer for another 10 minutes to fully flavour the mashed beans.

Service Options:

1. Refried Bean Soft Tacos: Spoon 1/4 cup Refried Beans on a Wheat-Flax Flatbread, top with 1-2 Tbsp shredded aged Sylvan Star aged cheddar or gouda, some torn spinach leaves and halved cherry tomatoes.

2. Quesadilla: Spread a Wheat-Flax Flatbread with 1/2 cup Refried Beans, sprinkle with 1/4 cup shredded aged Sylvan Star aged cheddar or gouda, add a few dashes of your favourite hot sauce and sandwich another flatbread on top. Preheat a nonstick pan or cast iron pan over medium heat, griddle the prepared quesadilla until toasted on one side (about 3-4 minutes), turn and griddle the other side. Cut in quarter and serve with 1/4 cup Greek yogurt stirred with 1 Tbsp fresh cilantro, juice of 1/2 lime, 1/4 tsp salt.

3. Flatbread Pizza: Spread a Wheat-Flax Flatbread with 1/2 cup Refried Beans, top with 1/4 cup, each, sliced red peppers, red onions, cooked chicken/ham/turkey and 1/4 cup Sylvan Star aged cheddar or gouda. Bake in a 220C/400F oven for 7-9 minutes until the flatbread is browned and crisp and the cheese is melted.

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