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Quick Meals from Slow Food

September 2, 2010

Most people when confronted with a pair of green peppers would probably do something sensible with them.  I’m not entirely sure what that would be, because I’m not the most sensible man.

Green bell peppers make me think of one thing, Cuban black beans.  Okay, make that two things.  I also think Cajun food, since the base aromatics of that cuisine are a blend of green pepper, onion and celery.  And Cajun food makes me hungry for red beans and rice.

Like the Tuscans, the Bermans are bean eaters.  Little Miss Fussy goes nuts for the legumes, and Albany Jane can attest to the fervor in which she consumed Indian spiced black eyed peas at a local lunch buffet.

Anyhow, last night, because of the mere presence of two green peppers in my CSA share, I made a giant pot of black beans.  The whole project took about four hours.  It was not a sensible evening project.  Beans may be delicious, but they take a long time to make.

So how can busy people like Amy and Kristi incorporate healthful, vegetable based meals like this into their lives?  I have an idea, and it doesn’t require a can opener.

Good cooking takes time.  Forget the lies propagated by the folks who would insist you can have amazing meals in thirty minutes.  The silver lining, however, is that reheating is significantly faster.

If you want to eat more home cooked meals, you don’t have to find a way to cook every night, as long as you can manage one good cooking project some time over the weekend.  As the weather gets cooler, this will get easier and more compelling.

Yes, a big batch of beans, be they the Cuban black or the Indian garbanzo will require the foresight of soaking and the better part of a day in the kitchen.  But if you are smart, you can seal up all that food into freezable containers and have a few simple meals at your beck and call.  My mother says, “It’s like money in the bank.”

I take my frozen beans and reheat them in a covered pot on the stovetop.  Most likely you will want to use a microwave, but I can provide no guidance for that contraption.  The brown rice that I make can be easily reheated too.  It’s a good thing since the technique I use takes well over an hour.  Leftover rice can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and refreshed by placing it in a strainer under boiling water.

You omnivores are in luck too.  Things like a classic Bolognese sauce, which also takes hours to make, freeze beautifully.  And if you freeze them in small containers, your one day of slowly simmering meat in milk and wine can pay off for weeks and months to come.  Just reheat the frozen single serving portion of sauce, and toss with some good pasta for an amazing and quick weeknight meal.

In the weeks and months ahead, I’ll try to put up my bastardized red bean and rice recipe as well as some further thoughts on Bolognese.  In the meantime, the other two recipes are pretty easy.

If you have any questions, I’m glad to help.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. mirdreams permalink
    September 2, 2010 1:18 pm

    That’s what I do, cook up lots of beans or rice or rice balls or soup and then freeze. Reheat in the infernal device and there you go, home cooked goodness like a hug from your past self.

  2. Mr. Sunshine permalink
    September 2, 2010 1:27 pm

    And as Mario Batali says, canned beans are among the very few canned goods that are good. Just be sure to rinse the shmutz off and then heat, don’t cook, for, e.g., beans and greens.

    • September 2, 2010 2:16 pm

      I’m with the chef when it comes to the quality of canned beans. I always have a few on hand. What I’m not crazy about is the BPA used in the lining of the cans, which is an entirely separate issue. Given how much my family enjoys beans, I’m trying to save the canned variety for emergencies only.

      Pressure cookers are a good alternative solution. But I want to keep this simple and limit the equipment people need to cook. Everyone should have a large stockpot. A pressure cooker is handy, but it’s cooking 201.

  3. MattW permalink
    September 2, 2010 1:48 pm

    Pressure cooker. That is all. Discuss,
    Have a good day.

  4. October 18, 2010 11:41 am

    What kinds / brands of containers do you use for freezing things like stocks / soups / beans, etc?

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