Hawai‘i Herald Columnist
During the initial phase of last year’s lockdown, dried starches, namely, rice, pasta and flour were flying off the shelves at our local Safeway. While we don’t usually consume a lot of rice, we do enjoy our fair share of pasta. And to keep my sourdough starter alive, we always have flour in the form of all-purpose, whole wheat and bread in our pantry. However, most hoarders neglected those non-traditional starches that pack a good dose of protein and fiber — legumes or beans.
We normally stock just the canned variety of these, especially when they go on sale. But during the lockdown when flour and pasta weren’t options, lugging a basketful of canned beans was a bit cumbersome (and heavy) so I converted to the dried variety. After all, it takes only an extra night of prep by soaking them; then, cooking the beans is more or less a breeze in a pressure cooker.
Still a Bean Counter
With several COVID-19 vaccinations released for mass immunization, it looks like there’s light at the end of the coronavirus tunnel. Meanwhile, we’re still creating dishes from our favorite dried legumes. In fact, because I’ve been noshing on more than my share of charcuterie during the stay-at-home orders, switching to vegetarian or vegan cuisine helps balance out my over-consumption of meats. Legumes offer a good dose of soluble fiber that can help lower bad cholesterol, carbohydrates that don’t spike the blood sugar like traditional starches do and low-saturated-fat proteins.
We ordered from Senia’s takeout menu featuring dishes of Portugal including a feijoada (or traditional Brazilian bean stew) with Rancho Gordo beans. So later I was glad to find the source of those delicious legumes — the Rancho Gordo website, ranchogordo.com.
Rancho Gordo is based out of Napa, California, and specializes in heirloom varieties. First started by Steve Sando as a one-man operation at farmers markets, Rancho Gordo eventually expanded into a full warehouse, retail and mail-order operation. The operation also partners with Mexican growers for their Rancho Gordo-Xoxoc Project highlighting not just heirloom Mexican bean varieties, but also traditional Mexican herbs and spices as well as cooking implements.
Because the midnight black bean, recommended for feijoada, set off my quest for these products, I give you my amalgam of feijoada, Portuguese bean soup and stew. Since my soups always invariably end up thick like stew, this is Ryan’s Portuguese Bean Stoup (stew + soup):
1 pound midnight black bean (or any pound of beans you desire) soaked overnight then pressure-cooked per package directions
3 cloves of minced garlic
3 large carrots, diced large
1 medium bunch celery, diced large
1 large onion, diced medium
1/2 medium head cabbage, roughly chopped
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
2 cans chopped tomatoes (14 oz. each)
1 can tomato sauce (8 oz.)
2 packages Noh Hawaiian Style Portuguese Sausage Seasoning Mix
1 cup elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons dried cilantro (optional)
3 cups water – may need more based on desired thickness as macaroni cooks
Sauté fresh garlic in olive oil on medium-high just until it starts browning (about three to five minutes). Add fresh vegetables and black pepper until vegetables soften (about another 10 to 15 minutes). Add cooked beans, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, Noh seasoning and water and bring back to a simmer for five minutes. Add dried macaroni (and dried cilantro) and simmer for the same length of time to cook macaroni per the box instructions. Stir every couple of minutes to prevent macaroni from sticking to the bottom of the pot. This makes 21 cups of Portuguese Bean Stoup which is about 20 lunch servings or 10 dinner servings for the “Ts.”
The version listed here is vegan since it’s meant to balance my dietary excesses over the holidays. If you maintained a balanced diet during the holidays, you could use chicken stock or stock from simmering smoked pork hocks instead of adding water. You could also use the traditional Portuguese sausage and/or ham. Feel free to use whichever type of bean you desire; I used black beans as they are traditional in feijoada. In fact, when I make this for non-vegan inclined family members, I usually simmer two smoked ham hocks for about 90 minutes and use that stock instead of water, then peel the meaty bits off the hock and add them back to the stoup. But if you do use smoked ham hocks (or canned chicken stock), start with just one package of the Noh’s seasoning to make sure it isn’t too salty.
No Worry, Garbanzo Curry
Early in my kitchen experimentation, I simply reached for bottled curry powder whenever a dish called for it. Of course, curry powder isn’t a single spice but an amalgam of individual warm spices like cardamom, turmeric, cumin and coriander and more. So after using pre-packaged or bottled curry powders, I decided to take that leap of faith and create my own blend for this garbanzo or chickpea “curry.”
Why garbanzo beans? For starters, you can find dried garbanzo beans in most supermarkets or use the canned variety if you’re pressed for time; two, whenever the protein in garbanzo beans, sesame seeds and wheat are combined, they form a complete protein eliminating the need for animal protein. This recipe for Punjabi Chhole makes two to three servings, though if you use a 1-lb. bag of dried garbanzo beans, simply double the quantity of everything else. To pressure-cook garbanzo beans, soak them overnight then pressure cook for five to six minutes and let the pressure naturally dissipate (about 20 minutes). Then drain and cook or refrigerate for future use.
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1/4 cup fresh minced ginger
1 medium onion, chopped
3 plum tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
3 cans drained and rinsed chickpeas
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground mustard seeds
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 pinch ground cloves
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Heat oil, add ginger and onion and sauté (about two minutes). Add chickpeas then spices and toss frequently to prevent spices from burning (about two minutes). Add tomatoes and toss (about 1 minute). Optional: Add one to two ounces of water or sweet wine if the mixture is too dry. Remove from heat and toss with cilantro.
Ryan Tatsumoto is a clinical pharmacist by day. In his off-hours, however, he and his wife enjoy seeking out perfect marriages of food and wine. Ryan is a certified sommelier and a certified specialist of wine. The Windward O‘ahu resident also writes a column for San Francisco’s Nichi Bei Weekly called “The Gochiso Gourmet” (nichibei.org/columns/gochiso-gourmet/).