Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Lesson in Stockpiling + Mexican Skillet Black Beans

Black beans, I love you. 

And not only that... I need you. 

Over the past couple weeks, my shopping schedule has been a bit messy: disrupted, postponed, rushed, or unproductive. Yes, I'm sure you all agree: that's life. 

In the interest of my character development it seems, sometimes I go to Wegmans and half of what I lovingly and calculatedly placed on my list has been raided from the shelves. Since I hold out for specific lower-priced items I can only get at Wegmans and and make a 30 minute journey out of the boonies to get them, you can imagine the dark thoughts and self-pitying I must combat as I discover one emptied bin after another. 

Oh, first world problems...

After a week or two of being bereft of staples and treats alike, I naturally began to feel like a castaway on a deserted island trying to stitch meals together out of old dips and cooked barley. What didn't help was that during this time I had run out of beans and grains (except barley, which we ate a lot of)... 

This, my friends, is a plant-based no-no. Without these pantry-challenge staples, one is truly lost at sea.  

Usually when I food shop, I only buy the ingredients needed for that week's meal plan. That means I don't tend to stockpile and throw a lot of this or that into my cart 'just in case.' If we're not making lentils that week, I don't buy lentils. Makes sense, right? 

Well I learned my lesson this month with the good old legumes and grains. These items are cheap and shelf-stable, and I learned how important they are to have at all times so you can throw meals together when a week gets unexpectedly hectic and the food store is as elusive as the legendary Bermuda Triangle.

And so when I finally did hit Wegmans to replenish my stores, I repentantly stocked up on the beans. I'm sorry, beans! I will never underestimate how important you are again! 

Other staples you should never feel ashamed for piling into your cart:
- Veggie broth
- Assorted frozen vegetables (also cheap and stable! These have saved me from the meal abyss many times. You can easily top veggies with a delicious sauce, like this Sesame Ginger Sauce, and serve with a bed of rice. BAM! Instant meal with leftovers.) 
- Salsa (so you can make simple Mexican-inspired meals out of the beans in your pantry, like the yummy skillet beans in this post or Lindsay Nixon's Black Bean and Salsa Soup).
- Plain tomato sauce (so you can throw together a pasta sauce in a pinch - you can also use up stranded old veggies that way).
- Nutritional yeast (with enough condiments on hand and some canned bnut squash or pumpkin you can make a delicious cheesy sauce for macaroni, like my favorite: B-Nut Squash Mac'n'Cheeze. Or if you're squash-less, you can make a plain 'cheeze' sauce like this one).
- Peanut/Almond butter (so you, too, can subsist on PB&J for a few days in a row like my husband. :)
- Cashews and almonds (for "cream" bases which can turn into any number of meals, like Dr. Fuhrman's Cashew Cream Sauce for veggies, this pizza with cashew cheeze sauce, or this Tomato Basil Cream Sauce).
- Almond milk (so when all else fails you can live off cereal or oatmeal...)  

Mexican Skillet Black Beans

Inspired by Caribbean Black Beans

Print or share this recipe 

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 15 oz can of black beans
  • 2/3 cup corn, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1.5 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1-1.5 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • Hot sauce (to taste)
  • 1/2 lime juice


  • Line a frying pan with a thin layer of broth on high heat. Add onions and garlic and saute until translucent, adding broth as needed (3-4 minutes)
  • Add spices (cumin, chili, coriander, cocoa) and stir until well coated. Cook for about 1 minute.
  • Add black beans (with liquid) and mash with a potato masher or fork (leave some whole and half beans).
  • Continue to cook on medium high heat. Bring beans to a boil and stir frequently to prevent sticking. The liquid will diminish and the beans will start to resemble refried beans.
  • Add salsa and corn. Continue to stir and add hot sauce to taste.
  • Remove from heat and squeeze juice from half of a lime over beans (or more, if desired). Stir in, plate, and serve over bed of brown rice.

Now that the beans are in the house I can sigh with relief... The creative meal possibilities are once again endless. 

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