Mama's Meal Plan 2015, Week Eight: Beans, Beans...and More Beans!


Picture courtesy of Bob's Red Mill website


As I type this, there is a very large pot of cannellini beans cooking away on my stove top.  Following the recipe we learned from one of Mark's coworkers, it is a simple mix of beans, water, and salt.  From two bags of dried cannellini beans, we will make four different recipes for this week.  Everything from a soup, to a pasta dish, and finishing with a version of a meal featured two weeks ago.

Last week's meals worked out great, but I did not feel or do as well as previous weeks.  I think all of that chicken got to me.  Going forward, I believe we'll be doing less of the large amount of meat protein cooked for a week's worth of meals.  I doubt full vegetarianism is happening around here, but I cannot deny the health benefits of more veggies, less meat.


SUNDAY: Cooking Beans + Cannellini Soup




To make the beans: I purchased Bob's Red Mill Cannellini Beans.  They were a whopping $6.99 per bag, but with basically $13 spent, I covered the base of 5 meals for three people, plus our 10 lunches.  I'd call that a win, even if they are expensive.  I really like Bob's Red Mill products, and will happily spend more for quality.  First, the beans are soaked over night in baking soda and water, then rinsed.  Second, they are covered with water, given a pinch or two of salt, and cooked until soft. 

Once the beans are cooked, time to make soup!  You can either follow the recipe below, or, simply scoop out beans in the water, top with chopped raw onion, cilantro, and chopped tomato.



Cannellini Bean Soup

4 cups cooked beans
1 tablespoon olive oil
3-4 cloves minced garlic
2 diced onions
3 cups vegetable broth
kosher salt, black pepper
4 celery stalks with leaves minced
4 tablespoons fresh oregano

In a large pot, saute onion and garlic in the olive oil until onions are soft, then stir in beans.  Add veggie stock and kosher salt (about a pinch).  Simmer for 10 minutes, then add celery, oregano, and a few turns of fresh ground pepper.  Cook for another 15-20 minutes.

Using a stick blender or conventional blender, puree soup until smooth.


Evie deemed this soup "creamy goodness"

 

MONDAY: Penne with Cannellini Beans

courtesy of Food.com

Mama started editing before cooking...

This recipe at first seemed pretty good, just 5 ingredients and you have a meal!  But, upon looking closer, Mama had to mess with it...almost immediately.  I did not see it call for olive oil to saute tomatoes.  I did not see garlic.  This was not good.  SO.  I took out my pen and started adding notes.  Truthfully, making a sauce from canned tomatoes needs more than 20-30 minutes stove top, but that's all I had, so I did the best I could.  I was not a favorite meal, Evie asked for her noodles with just olive oil and cheese.  You could still taste the canned tomato in the sauce, but the beans added a nice creaminess where they had broken down.  If I did this meal again, I'd puree the beans before adding them, and I'd add more heat.  My edits included:

  • Sauteing garlic and crushed red pepper in olive oil before adding tomatoes.
  • Reducing tomatoes for about 10 minutes before adding beans.
  • Added healthy pinch kosher salt and four turns of ground pepper
  • Added oregano with 10 minutes to go.  
  • Spinach added in last 2 minutes.    



TUESDAY: Sauteed Cannellini Beans

courtesy of Melissa d'Arabian / Food Network

I was pretty excited to purchase my first ever bottle of herbs de provence.  I'm actually kind of surprised it hasn't come up sooner with all of these recipes, but regardless, I now have it!  When I opened and smelled it, I thought "Thanksgiving."  Evie on the other hand said it smells like Christmas (too piney).  We'll see how it goes using it to flavor this dish.  Update: It was delicious!  Very warm, and yummy.  The acidic dressing paired nicely with the beans. 



WEDNESDAY: Cannellini Beans & Black Rice with Avocado Tomatillo Sauce


A few weeks ago we made the avocado tomatillo sauce with orzo and black beans.  We were not fans.  The sauce was delicious, but the orzo was slimy and the beans were flavorless.  The meal lacked texture and even with liberal application of sriracha, was a low point in the meal plan.  When discussing how to make it better, Mark suggested swapping out orzo for black rice (one of his current favorite things) and black beans for homemade beans.  I had been wanting to try cannellini bean recipes, and hence, this week's meal plan was born!  We've got the beans cooked already, and the rice will most likely be cooked ahead as well.  So, we'll make the sauce (recipe below), then give it a quick saute in a pan with the rice and beans.  Here's hoping this one is a little better!

Avocado-Tomatillo Sauce
courtesy of Cuisine at Home February 2015

1 lb. tomatillos, husks and stems removed, halved.
1/2 medium onion, sliced
1 jalapeño, halved and stemmed
3 large cloves garlic
2 avocados
1/2 cup packed fresh mint
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp. ground corriander

Preheat broiler with rack 4 inches from element.  Line a baking sheet with foil.  Broil tomatillos, onion, jalapeño, and garlic on prepared baking sheet until tomatillos and jalapeño begin to blister, 4-6 minutes.

Pulse broiled vegetables, 1 avocado, mint, lime juice, and coriander in a food processor or blender until smooth; season with salt and pepper.



THURSDAY & FRIDAY: Leftovers



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