Friday, 10 May 2013

Wonderous Black Eyed Beans

This is one of my favourite beans. This creamy, kidney shaped bean with the black spot not only looks but IS very delectable and highly nutritious too! It has a pea-like flavour which is not too overpowering, and which therefore makes it extremely versatile and easy to use in many different ways. Once properly boiled, it can be used in hot salads, cold salads, stews, soups and curries or even pureed as a dip.

It provides high quality protein and is a good substitute for meat. It is rich in soluble fibre which is excellent for your body and helps in lowering cholesterol. It is high in Vitamin C and the minerals potassium, folate, phosphorous, calcium, manganese and iron. Its high levels of potassium make it an ideal part of the DASH diet [Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension]. Potassium rich foods are considered beneficial in the management and moderation of high blood pressure, especially at the early stages.

Ideally, one should wash and soak the beans for a few hours, rinse them again and then boil till tender but still slightly al dente. Now you can create whatever culinary delight you fancy. A short cut is to use the readily available canned black eyed beans which are already boiled. I often use the canned variety to rustle up some light and healthy weekday lunches, either to take to work or when I’m working from home and can’t afford that post-lunch slumberous feeling.

My latest creation for office lunch: salads which are satisfying. You know how salads can sometimes leave you feeling rather peckish after an hour or so. Not these ones. The beans with its high protein content provide a good feeling of satisfaction and fullness for several hours.

As I said earlier, black eyed beans with their rather subtle flavour lend themselves well to mixing with many different flavours. Here are 2 varieties I created and consumed this week.

Far-eastern flavoured black-eyed beans salad
You’ll need:
Handful of chopped parsley
Pepper [red or yellow] – half, chopped
2 tablespoons of toasted sesame oil
1 cm long piece of ginger, finely chopped

Avocado, half, chopped [optional]
Salt & pepper to taste
Boiled black eyed beans – about 200 gms [rinse the beans under running water if using the canned variety]
Lemon or [preferably] lime juice to taste
2-3 tbspn of boiled rice [optional, I used some I had left over]

Mix all above ingredients in a large bowl, adjust seasonings to your taste and pack for office lunch. The sesame oil and ginger give overtones of those far-eastern dishes. A healthy, yummy lunch to keep you light and alert for a productive afternoon.

The same beans can be transformed into a Mediterranean flavoured salad for which you will need:
Boiled black eyed beans [rinse if using the canned variety] – about 200 gms
1 small beetroot, sliced thinly
Avocado, half, cut into 1 cm cubes
Black olives, pitted, handful
Feta cheese
Chopped parsley
Olive oil
1-2 tbsp runny honey
Salt & pepper to taste
Lemon juice to taste

In a large bowl mix all above ingredients, keeping a little feta cheese aside for the garnish. Toss lightly and adjust seasonings to your liking. Crumble the remaining feta cheese over the salad when you are ready to eat. Drizzle with a little olive oil.

Another healthy and delicious lunch to tuck into. Every mouthful is an explosion of flavours. The combination of salty feta and slightly sweet beetroot is great. Another mouthful draws in a divine combination of creamy avocado and salty feta. Olives and feta cheese conjure up images of sunny Mediterranean holidays. And in all this the delectable black eyed bean provides a highly satisfying protein kick leaving you content for some time.

These are just two examples of how, with a little adjustment, this lovely bean can create entirely different dishes. Go forth and experiment. You simply can’t go wrong with these beans. Even the simplest dressing of salt, pepper, oil and lemon juice will give you a tasty result.

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