You know it's way too hot to be running outside when you find salt crusted onto your face when you get home from practice. Not the best way to be starting out a food post, but my skin looked and tasted like someone had raked the Dead Sea and then deposited their collection all over my body. We did repeats of Harlem Hill in Central Park the other day for over 7 miles. It was incredibly humid and I swear I have never sweat so much in my life. It usually takes me at least three miles to really get a good perspiration going but within five minutes, I was drenched. At least it's good preparation for San Francisco!
So I've been trying to get back into my tradition of cooking one vegetarian and one non-vegetarian meal a week. It's much better for my wallet and probably also for my health. I had picked up some red beans at Fairway a few weeks back and they sat and sat on my bookshelf and then I forgot about them for a spell until I woke up last Thursday and remembered that I should eat them. Looking back at my bookmarked recipes, I found Susan of Fat Free Vegan Kitchen's recipe for Real Louisiana Red Beans and Rice.
Red beans and rice are a signature dish of Louisiana Creole Cuisine and are traditionally made on Mondays (I didn't know this then, but I actually did coincidentally make these on Mondays) with veggies, spices, and pork bones cooked together slowly in a pot. They are made on Monday because Monday is washday and you can leave these simmering on the stove while you go and wash all your clothing.
So how did I alter this recipe (because you already know I did)? Firstly, no celery. I hate the stuff. That and beets are the two veggies I just cannot bring myself to eat. Beets probably have a bit more leeway because their flavor can be disguised more easily. Celery just seems to permeate everything it touches. Secondly, no rice. I wanted sweet potatoes instead. No surprises there.
The end result - very delicious if not photogenic at all. Definitely good old stick-to-your-bones comfort food without the guilt. It was also the first time I've made beans on the stove instead of in the crockpot and honestly, I liked them better. Sorry crockpot!
Louisiana Red Beans and Sweet Potatoes
Serves 4, adapted from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen
500 g red beans
4 cloves garlic
1 large onion
1 red bell pepper
3 bay leaves
2 tsp thyme
1 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp chipotle peppers in adobo
1 tbsp tabasco
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 1/2 lb sweet potatoes
1. Soak the beans in lukewarm water for 8-10 hours or overnight.
2. Drain the beans. Put them in a pot and cover them with water 2 inches above the top of the beans. Put over high heat.
3. Prep the veggies. Place the garlic cloves and the onion, quartered, into a food processor. Process until finely chopped. Add into the beans. Core and seed the red bell pepper. Cut into quarters. Also process until finely chopped and add to the beans. Mix all of the remaining ingredients except for the sweet potatoes into the beans. When the beans reach a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, stirring every now and then until they are tender and falling apart. This took me about 2 hours. Add salt to taste (you will need a LOT). Cook for at least ten more minutes until the sauce is thick and the beans are disintegrating. Remove the bay leaves. NOTE - I also had to remove some of the water midway through because the beans were done and it was just TOO water. Use your own discretion.
4. About midway through the cooking of the beans, preheat the oven to 400. Cut the sweet potatoes into coins. Put them on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and bake for 40 minutes. Alternatively, I bet this would be great served in a buttercup squash bowl.