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CSA Cookoff: Bittman's Black Beans with Beets and Orange Juice


THE CHALLENGE
So. Many. Beets.

THE SOLUTION
Mark Bittman to the rescue. In flipping through my trusty copy of How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, I came across a variant on a recipe for black beans that called for beets and orange juice. I was intrigued. And then I was flabbergasted. And then I licked the bowl clean, just like it was frosting. Yes, it was a pot of black beans, but this may have been one of the most complex, flavorful dishes I’ve ever made. And for the record? Black beans aren’t the only reason Bittman is my hero these days.

THE INGREDIENTS
Makes 4 servings; *indicates an item from my farm share

» 3 c cooked or canned black beans, with 1 cup of cooking liquid (One 1 lb, 13 oz can, with juice, was perfect)
» 1 c peeled and chopped beets* (for me, this was about three smallish beets)
» 1 ½ tsp ground cumin
» Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
» 1 orange, well washed
» 2 Tbsp extravirgin olive oil
» 1 onion, chopped*
» 1 poblano pepper, cored, seeded, and diced (Bittman calls for a bell pepper, preferably red or yellow, but I just plucked a whole mess of poblanos yesterday from the backyard)
» 1 Tbsp minced garlic*
» ½ c pumpkin beer (Bittman says dry red wine, but I’m a use-what-you’ve-got kind of girl, and in fall, what I’ve got is pumpkin beer)
» Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

THE DIRECTIONS
1. Put the beans and the beets in a pot over medium heat; add the cumin and a good pinch of salt and pepper.

2. Halve the orange. Peel one half and add the skin to the beans, then divide the sections and set aside. Squeeze the juice out of the other half and set aside.

3. Put the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and poblano pepper to cook, stirring occasionally, until the pepper softens, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Add to the beans.

4. Turn the heat to high and add the beer or wine to the skillet. Cook until the liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add to the beans along with the reserved orange juice. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve with rice, garnished with the reserved orange sections and some cilantro.

Bittman calls the result “quite sweet, but acidic as well and unmistakably not dessert.” I call it serendipitous. You've got to try it to believe it.

STILL HUNGRY? Browse the CSA Cookoff file for more HOMEGROWN recipes.

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