Black Bean Chili with Citrus

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A lot of chili recipes tend toward darker flavor enhancers — expresso coffee or chocolate, or both, for a mole twist. This one takes a different approach with the addition of orange juice and it makes for a lighter, brighter chili — great as a summer chili, but also a delicious at this time of the year when citrus is abundant. This is vegetarian, but shredded chicken would certainly work well in it if you’re looking for a bit more protein. Have fun with this recipe — add sweet potatoes in the winter, and in the summer, liven it up with fresh chopped tomatoes, corn and crisp zucchini.

4 C dried black beans
2½ quarts (10 cups) water
2-3 fresh sprigs oregano, or 1 T dried
3 bay leaves
6 small or 3 large sage leaves
1 t salt
4 T olive oil
2 yellow onions, chopped
2 chopped peppers – bell pepper, Anaheim, or jalapeño (your choice, depending on taste for heat), seeds, stems and ribs discarded
6 cloves crushed garlic
2 T chili powder
1-2 t puréed chipotle in adobo, chipotle Tabasco, or chipotle powder (to taste)
1 T cumin, (crushed whole toasted cumin seed is best, if possible)
1 C orange juice
Juice of 1 lime
2 T rice wine vinegar
salt to taste

Garnish:

Sour cream
Chopped cilantro
Lime wedges
Avocado wedges

Rinse and sort the beans, discarding any stones or shriveled beans. You can soak the beans overnight in cold water (cover with several inches of water) OR pour enough boiling water over them to cover by a few inches and soak them for an hour OR skip the pre-soaking step. Soaking will speed up the cooking process. Add beans to a large pot with water. Add oregano, bay leaves, sage and salt. Bring the beans to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until the beans are soft, but not quite done. The time will vary depending on how large, dry, or old your beans are, and if you have pre-soaked them, from anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half.

While the beans are cooking, sauté onions and peppers in olive oil until soft. Add chili powder, chili purée, cumin, and garlic. Sauté until spices are fragrant. Remove from heat. When the beans are cooked, fish out and discard the bay leaves, stems of oregano, and sage leaves from the pot. Remove, but reserve, extra cooking liquid until there is about ½ inch of liquid above beans. Add the onion mixture and salt to the pot of beans. Cook another hour or so until thickened. Add reserved liquid if needed. Add half of the orange juice, and simmer. Adjust chili heat at this point – you may or may not want to add more of your chili paste. Just before serving, add remaining orange juice, lime juice, and vinegar. Salt to taste. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro. Serve with corn tortillas, and/or rice, and garnishes.

 


Chicken Enchilada Casserole

enchiladasWhole-wheat tortillas, lean chicken, black beans, a flavorful sauce and low-fat shredded cheese come together for a healthy, low-calorie casserole that’s going to wow your guests. The enchilada sauce, which comes from the blog Skinnytaste, is what makes this recipe sing. The adobo chilies, available in the International aisle of your supermarket, in the enchilada sauce are a must – they give the whole dish a smoky, addictive flavor that shouts Mexican. You can go heavier on the chilies for more of a kick – this version is mildly spicy. You’ll have enough enchilada sauce to make a second casserole. Adrienne demoed this at Brookside and Us Botanic garden in February 2015 for our “Hearty Casseroles” series. Thanks to Skinnytaste for the basic recipe, with some adaptations by The Cook Sisters.

For the enchilada sauce:
1 T olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 T chipotle chilis in adobo sauce, pureed chipotle
3 C plain tomato sauce
1 t chili powder
1 t ground cumin
1 C chicken or vegetable broth
kosher salt and fresh pepper to taste

For the chicken:
1 t olive oil
1 C diced onion
2 large clove garlic, minced
9 oz (2 breast halves) cooked shredded chicken breast
½ – 1 whole can black beans, drained and rinsed (15 oz)
1/4 C cilantro
kosher salt
1 tsp cumin
1 t dried oregano
1 t chili powder
1/3 C chicken broth
1/2 C plain tomato sauce
8 (7-inch) whole wheat flour tortillas, cut into half-moons
1½ – 2 C enchilada sauce
1 C shredded low fat Mexican cheese
½ C chopped scallions or cilantro for topping

In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil and sauté garlic. Add chipotle chiles, chili powder, cumin, chicken broth, tomato sauce, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.

Heat the vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté onions and garlic on low until soft, about 2 minutes. Add chicken, black beans, salt, cilantro, cumin, oregano, chili powder, tomato sauce, chicken broth, and cook 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a 13×9 inch casserole dish, spread about ½ C enchilada sauce; dip six tortilla halves into the enchilada sauce so they are well coated and arrange on top of sauce in casserole dish; spread half the chicken mixture on top of the tortillas; sprinkle with ½ C shredded cheese. Repeat with remaining tortillas (you may us only six of the eight tortillas), chicken and cheese. Cover eith aluminum foil and bake in 400 degree over 15 minutes; remove foil and bake another 10 minutes until bubbly and golden. Remove from oven and let the casserole sit for 15 minutes before cutting and serving. Garnish with scallions and serve with sour cream.


Mexican-Inspired Quinoa Casserole

quinoaQuinoa is one of those slightly mysterious ingredients that nonetheless is becoming a staple in America’s kitchens. Hailing from its native Peru, quinoa’s tiny seed is packed with complete protein, anti-oxidants, fiber, anti-inflamatory agents, a whole range of essential enzymes, while still gluten and fat free. The grain, or seed, rinsed first to extract the bitter-tasting film it naturally secretes – then toasted dry and finally cooked until it corkscrews like a miniature fiddlehead – has a nutty, cereal-like flavor that becomes a canvas for anything from spicy hot peppers to sweet strawberries and everything in between. This dish borrows flavors from another South American country – Mexico. You don’t need much quinoa – here a scant half-cup, loaded with beans and corn and other ingredients, is transformed into a hearty dish that will fill the bellies of six to eight diners. Feeding the multitudes you might say. Danielle demoed this as part of a class at Brookside and another at US Botanic Garden in February 2015 when our topic was “hearty casseroles.” What a great turnout on a couple of very cold days.

½ C quinoa, cooked in 1 C vegetable broth or water (see below)
1 ½ C frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
1 T olive oil
1 red bell pepper, diced small
1 (15-oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 C frozen corn
5-6 scallions, trimmed and sliced, white and green parts
½ C salsa – your favorite brand, mild, medium or hot
1 ½ T chili powder or chili seasoning
2 t oregano (Mexican preferred)
1 T fresh lime juice
1 ½ C shredded Mexican cheese blend, Fiesta blend or Cheddar – divided

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cook the quinoa according to package directions. When the quinoa is cooked, transfer it to a large mixing bowl. Put the hash browns in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the hash browns to the bowl with the quinoa.

In a medium-sized skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and add the diced bell peppers. Sauté until tender crisp, about 3 minutes. Add them into the bowl, along with the black beans, corn, sliced scallions, salsa, chili powder and oregano. Mix well, add the lime juice and ¾ cup of the shredded cheese. Mix well again. Transfer the mixture to an 8×8 baking dish and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Cover with (non-stick) aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 20 minutes, until cheese has melted. Serves 6.

Cooking Quinoa

For the best flavor and fluffiest texture, dry-toast the quinoa before adding the water: rinse the quinoa according to the package directions, then put it in a medium pot without oil or butter. Let the grains dry out a bit and toast until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the water, bring to a boil and cover with a lid. Simmer  10-15 minutes-do not stir the quinoa while it is cooking. This will allow it to cook evenly and steam holes to form. The quinoa is cooked when you see the grains form a little white spiral tail. This is the outer germ of the grain that twists as it cooks, but stays attached to the kernel.


Fiesta Bean Salad

fiesta salad

We’ll be whipping this up as part of our Fourth of July class at Brookside Botanic Garden in Wheaton MD (click on “events”, above).  It’s a great side dish for any outdoor meal.  Make it for a potluck or a picnic and marvel at the colors.  It’ll taste even better.

1 ½  C fresh corn kernels, stripped from 2 ears of cooked corn
1 ½ C fresh lima beans, cooked OR edamame/soybeans
1 (14-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 C red bell pepper, diced small
1 C Bermuda onion, chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbs chili powder
Juice of 2 limes
¼ C olive oil
1 C cilantro, chopped fine
Sea salt to taste

Combine the first five ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Sprinkle with the spices, add the lime juice and olive oil. Toss well. Add the cilantro and salt to taste. Adjust for lime juice and olive oil if necessary. Chill at least an hour before serving, and up to 6 hours. Serves 8.