Beans are a pantry staple in my house. Economical and a good source of protein, it makes sense to keep them around in canned and dried form. Canned beans in particular are good in an emergency when the pantry is bare and people are hungry. Heated with a few seasonings one can serve them atop rice, throw them into a salad, or blend them into a quick dip. Canned beans compared to dried beans are a time-saver, but they are also more expensive and often contain a high amount of sodium. I justify the higher price based upon convenience and I cut the sodium by always rinsing canned beans under water before serving. This simple step can reduce the sodium count by up to 50% and makes me feel better about taking the shortcut.
While my cupboard has always contained both dried and canned beans, until recently I only kept black-eyed peas in dried form. I grew up eating black-eyed peas once a year on New Year’s day. Paired with braised collard beans, I doused the black-eyed peas (served in the dish known as hoppin john) with hot pepper vinegar and superstitiously ate everything in order to bring wealth in the new year. The collards symbolized greenbacks while the black-eyed peas were eaten to fill your pockets with coins. Dried black-eyed peas and collards cooked for hours before serving and while leftovers might fill the fridge for a day or two more, black-eyed peas wouldn’t grace my table again for another year. And then I learned about Southern (or Mississippi) caviar and added canned black-eyed peas to my shelves.
Posted in Appetizer, Beans, Side Dish, Uncategorized, Vegetarian
Tagged Appetizer, banana peppers, black-eyed peas, dip, Food, mississippi caviar, peas and collards, pita chips, Recipe, Southern, Vegetarian
Leave it to the Italians to take something as sad as leftover rice and turn it into an appetizer worthy of guests. Arancini are fried rice balls made from leftover risotto. They require just a bit of prep to make and are the perfect appetizer when unexpected, but still welcome guests, pop through your door.
Leftover risotto is practically a staple in my fridge. Risotto, made by slowly adding liquid to plump arborio rice grains, is the perfect two person meal. It’s an easy way to use up those odds and ends in the vegetable drawer or any small portions of meat or seafood in your refrigerator. One cup of uncooked Arborio rice with plenty of added vegetables and meat makes two dinner size portions with a healthy amount of leftovers. In the past, these leftovers end their days in the back of my refrigerator; not looking particularly appetizing, but safe in their Tupperware thanks to my hatred of food waste.
I’m dedicating this post to my friend Marcelo. Marcelo and I became friends when I lived in Manta, Ecuador in 2003. Originally from Manta (a seaside town in Ecuador), Marcelo is a wonderful guy with a winning smile and a mischievous personality. During the year that I lived in Ecuador, Marcelo and I shared many adventures together. One of my favorite memories of Marcelo was when he took a group of us spear-fishing. I never got in the water, but Marcelo bravely jumped in and actually landed us lunch. I’ll never forget him cutting up the fish, squeezing lime over the pieces, and preparing a simple ceviche, right there on the boat.
Ceviche (also spelled seviche and cebiche) is a popular dish in Latin America made by marinating fish or shellfish in citrus juice (or another acidic liquid). The acid in the citrus literally cooks the fish and the result is a flavorful and refreshing dish. Ceviches were my favorite food to eat in Ecuador. My favorite restaurant during the year I lived there was on a popular boardwalk overlooking the Pacific Ocean. You could get an ice-cold beer, a basket of chifles (fried plantain chips), and a delicious ceviche for just a couple of dollars. As you watched the people walk by and the waves come in, it was easy to contemplate the idea of never leaving. Continue reading