Today, I feel like writing about beans, or Vicia faba according to its scientific name. Coming from a country where legumes are very highly valued (beans can be found in any of the three main meals a day in Mexico), I want to talk about other beans that don’t have such a strong cultural connection with me. I hope to learn a little bit more about them through writing this, and learn to embrace them in my meals. Beans were the queens of Europe for a long time.They were found in Mediterranean settlements from 3000 B.C., which shows that beans were already domesticated by then. They did not arrive to my continent until Europeans crossed the Atlantic. To find their origin, however, we must embark on a long journey towards the East, as their birthplace lies on the continent of Asia.
Fresh Beans, like all other legume seeds, are shaped like kidneys, and grow in pods. They have a hard and thick covering that is generally removed before eating. And for a cultural tidbit from my land, beans are commonly eaten as appetizers, as dried seeds. They are toasted and covered in chili powder and salt. You have to have strong teeth, however, to eat them, but if you’re properly trained for it, they are absolutely delicious.
Just like all other legumes, beans are a rich food source of protein. They provide up to two or three times more protein than grains like rice or wheat. They are also, of course, excellent sources of vitamin B which plays a part in metabolism development, iron which helps maintain red blood cells, folic acid which prevents deformations during fetus development, and they are also a good source of dietary fiber, providing up to 9.2 grams per cup. They have several other excellent nutritive properties as well. And now, let’s get to the wonderful recipes you can make with them.
A lot of people could look down upon legumes due to the increase in gas that eating them produces in the stomach. This is due to their carbohydrates that the body’s enzymes can’t transform into sugar. You can solve this problem by cooking them for long periods of time, which makes beans and other legumes even more easily digested.
Bean, mushroom, and cherry tomato salad
- ½ kilo green beans (with shell)
- 1 head sangria lettuce, or whichever variety you like best
- 150 grams sliced mushrooms
- 300 grams cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. marjoram
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In boiling water, add beans for one minute. Remove immediately and rinse with ice water. Remove the shells and gently dry the beans with a paper towel or a cloth.
- In a frying pan with very hot oil, add tomatoes and garlic. Sauté until garlic turns golden. Then add beans and mushrooms. Sauté for approximately 2 minutes.
- To serve, make a bed of lettuce, and pour the sautéed vegetables on top. Add whichever dressing you like.
- As a recommendation, you could add four diced anchovy fillets while sautéing, of some type of fresh cheese, cubed, when you serve the bed of lettuce.
Bean and prickly pear soup
- 1 c. dried beans
- ¾ c. prickly pears, cooked and cut hamburger style, making short strips
- ½ c. zucchini, diced
- 100 grams bacon or ham
- ¼ onion, diced
- 2 tomatoes
- 1 Chipotle pepper
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 avocado
- Salt to taste
- Cook beans, garlic, and a bit of salt, in water. You could use a pressure cooker or cook them over low heat. Try to get them very soft. Once done cooking, remove the garlic clove.
- Dice and fry the bacon with the onion. Once finished, set these ingredients aside.
- In a frying pan with a bit of oil, lightly fry the tomato. Set aside.
- Add the prickly pear and the zucchini to the bean soup. Cook on low heat. When the zucchini is nearly cooked, add bacon, onion and tomato. Taking a bit of the broth, blend the chipotle pepper and add the liquid to the soup. Cook all ingredients on low heat for 10 minutes, or until all the flavors are well blended. Test before salting.
- Lasting, serve warm, and cut avocado into cubes. Place a few cubes of avocado over each bowl of soup when you serve it.