This is a cold weather comfort dish I love to make and created when I was down to VERY little at home and was too cold here in the mountains to go out and buy more food. Mind you, that too cold for me constitutes 55 degrees outside, but this particular week it was even colder. I swear!
I landed in Idyllwild a couple of days before two mini snow storms hit. They likely weren’t snow storms but for me it was like Antartica decided to land in my front yard. I still had fresh food in the house, though nothing for a specific dish.
I had garlic, as I always do, a bundle of cilantro… as I always do, and a softening jalapeño. Pantry was stocked complete with gluten free pasta and a couple of cans of black beans.
Since returning from Italy and Terra Madre, I’ve started moving away from anything canned. I had several epiphanies while there, and one of them was that factory processed food is just stripped of life and the kind of cleanliness and attention food deserves – cleanliness and attention only I could give it when preparing it at home mindfully. So I’ve been practicing my bean making skills.
Dried beans are super easy to cook. Honestly, it can feel or sound like they take a long time to prepare, but really, it’s super simple. Currently, I’m playing with amounts and level of juiciness/brothiness, but I have yet to be disappointed with what I’ve made so far.
With that said, I didn’t have dried beans at home. I had 2 cans left over from a previous grocery store run… likely from 5-6 months ago when we were all here for the end of year holidays. When buying canned anything in a store I look at the ingredients. If you go to a health conscious grocery store like Whole Foods, Wild Oats, Henry’s, Sprouts or whatever else you have in your region, it’s easier to find canned beans that literally only have 3 ingredients; beans, water, salt. A mainstream huge name brand grocery store will give you 2-4 brands to choose from, but most will also include sugar and a few other things you can’t pronounce. It’s… nonsensical, really.
Mini Rant: There is no reason to have sugar in most of the canned items we have available to us in grocery stores yet, the ingredient persists. It’s a wonder we have such an epidemic Diabetes issue in this country. We eat sugar even when we don’t think we are. It’s snuck in there in places where sugar is not only not needed, but doesn’t add a single value to the food it’s in.
I want beans. Not salt, not sugar, not a preservative. Just beans please. End of rant.
All this to say I used a can of beans, but soon I’ll post a few recipes for cooking your own beans using dried beans.
This recipe is crazy easy, hearty, delicious and best when served in a pasta bowl with a crusty piece of bread drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.
Cilantro Black Bean Pasta
- 1 cup cilantro, chopped
- 4 good sized cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 jalapeno, de-stemmed, finely chopped (depending on the heat you like, you can totally eliminate the white pith and seeds inside or include some of it or all of it. The more you keep, the hotter the heat from the pepper)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 8 oz of gluten free spaghetti
- 1/2 cup of water
- 8 oz can of black beans (broth included)
1. Place pasta to boil. Follow box instructions as they will vary. Cooking times for regular pasta tends to be a little more than gluten free pasta. As always you want the pasta to be ‘al dente’ which when tasted is a hair or two away from being fully cooked.
2. Place garlic and jalapeño in a quart pan with the olive oil. Add a good solid pinch of salt and pepper. Saute on medium high heat until the garlic begins to turn slightly brown.
3. Add the beans with it’s broth to the garlic, as well as a half a can of water. Bring down to a low simmer. Time should be 4-6 minutes.
4. Pasta should be done by now, drain and set aside in a bowl.
5. As the beans cook, stir occasionally, and adjust salt and pepper to taste.
6. Just before taking the beans off the flame add a cup of finely chopped cilantro and mix in. You can turn off the flame now, and let the heat of the beans break down the cilantro a bit, but you want them to be bright green and still quite powerful in it’s flavor.
7. Mix beans in with the pasta and serve hot. You can drizzle extra olive oil on top if you like.
This will serve 2 and I ate it twice as Jon wasn’t here when I made this. I’ve since made it a couple more times and seriously… love it.