Tuesday, February 7, 2012

What's Cooking? A Bean of a Different Color

I think I may be experiencing a bit of blogger fatigue. Not a serious case, or anything, and it is luckily not contagious. Perhaps it is because my work life has been revolving around blogs for the past month. Or maybe it's because I am having such a difficult time finding information on the cultural and ecological history of beans!
Black beans, red kidney beans, white cannelinis. These common legumes are only a small sampling of what is available for the eating. But there is a wide world of beans out there. One particular bean I've unearthed is called Anasazi - a slightly sweeter and more easily-digestible native American bean named for the Pueblo Indians. The back story of the bean is still shrouded a bit in mystery, but we do know that they were likely cultivated back thousands of years! We are talking pre-Columbian Americas, here. I will save my musings about the merits of heirloom varieties for another day, but let me just note how exciting it is to have the amazing variety of beans from which we can choose...rather than always falling back on the same old same old...

Here's a dish that celebrates the traditional companion planting - the three sisters: beans, squash, and maize - forming a symbiotic relationship. The maize provides a base on which the beans can climb; the beans fix nitrogen in the soil; the squash leaves block out weeds; and together they provide the complete suite of amino acids!

Anasazi Stew
1/2 jar of chopped tomatoes
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 medium winter squash (like carnival or acorn; or a large sweet potato) cubed
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 tsp olive oil
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 cup cooked anasazi beans
1/2 cup frozen (or fresh if in season) corn

1. Saute onion in an oiled skillet until beginning to become translucent. Add cubed squash and stock. Cook until squash fork tender.
2. Pour in the tomatoes and add the spices. Allow to simmer for 10-20 minutes. Toss in the beans and corn. Adjust seasonings; maybe add salt.
3. Serve warm over corn bread :) mmm...

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