Wednesday, February 3, 2010

paprika spiced adzuki beans with spinach and lemon zest

So, I'm still on this cheapskate spree. I have this jar of dried aduki  beans that has been sitting on a shelf for well over six months. Dried beans do last awhile though. But the problem with them is that you really have to plan ahead. Most recipes call for letting beans soak for eight hours. I think that idea is bogus. A faster/sorta spontaneous way is to add beans to a pot, cover with a couple inches of water and bring to a boil. Then let the beans sit for two hours on the stovetop with the heat off. Then cook. That sound a little better, right?

Aduki or adzuki or whatever the hell you wanna call them beans are truly awesome. They hail from North-East Asia and are mostly present in sweet dishes, like red bean cakes. (I just read that Pepsi created a aduki bean flavored pepsi drink. Now that sounds gross!) They're commonly boiled with sugar and made into a paste. Well, I thought that idea sounded none too interesting and I'm trying to consume less sugar anyway. So I decided to make a spiced bean concoction that would go nicely in a tortilla, giving it a bit of a mexican-asian theme. I think it works nicely. The touch of sweetness from the beans is complemented by the smokiness of the paprika and a bit of lemon juice and spinach is added to perk up the nutritional value. 

Many recipes call for a pound of beans, which is equal to two cups dried beans. Which, when cooked, makes about six cups of beans. On average, dried beans only cost about a $1.20 a pound. That's super cheap! Much cheaper than canned. But if you're gonna do canned, then one 15 oz can is equal to 1 1/2 cups cooked beans. So the measurements get a bit confusing. But the basic idea is that dried beans are tastier and cheaper (but more time consuming!) Since this recipe makes 6 cups of beans, you could easily freeze half the beans in its cooking liquid and they'll stay good for six months. In the fridge, they'll last about a week. It's so convenient to have beans already cooked in the fridge! 

2 cups dried aduki beans 
1 onion (chopped into small dice)
3 cloves of garlic (minced)
4 cups baby spinach
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
sea salt
olive oil
sesame seeds
freshly ground black pepper
zest of one lemon

After soaking the beans for two hours on the stovetop, turn the heat back on and cook for about 40 minutes. Times vary according to the bean. So it's best to check every 10 minutes to see if they're done. If they are getting a bit cooked through, but not quite, add a pinch of salt to help bring them to doneness. (I added the salt about 20 minutes in) When done, drain beans (but remember to keep the cooking liquid!) I used about 2 cups worth of cooked beans and froze the rest. 

Warm a saute pan with olive oil. When hot, add onion, garlic, salt and spices. Cook until onions are translucent. Add cooked beans (without cooking liquid) to the pan. Saute for about 10 minutes and then add spinach. Cook until spinach is wilted. Remove from heat. 

I like to toast tortillas directly on the stove top for about 10 seconds on each side. Then, place tortilla on plate ( I added a dollop of mayonnaise) and add spiced aduki bean filling. Top with sesame seeds, zest/juice of a lemon and freshly ground black pepper. 

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