Tomato simmered beans feat. onion
The following is an amalgamation of numerous ‘I didn’t defrost any meat for dinner’ moments; a love of gooey and sweet onions; and recently falling hard for the punchy Shakshuka, at the Perth Twilight Hawker’s Markets. It’s something I make at the end of the week a lot, when fresh produce is dwindling and comfort food is in order. You see, tinned beans provide a good whack of protein and vitamins where you might ordinarily resort to a bowl of pasta or other similarly refined, high GI carbs. The spices, sweet onions and rich tomatoes have assuaged many an uncertain bean eater. Furthermore, I recommend using cannellini beans. They’re soft, creamy, mild, and promise to be on their best behaviour around those intimidated by beans.
This dish is terribly budget friendly, generates few dishes, makes great leftovers, and you can hold your head high while eating this at any time of the day. So raid your pantry, empty your crisper of anything that looks like a capsicum or tomato; and get a deep frypan on the hot plate.
1 (rather) large or 2 medium onions; halved and sliced (thinly, if pushed for time)
1 1/2 tsp cumin
3/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried coriander (optional)
Cayenne pepper, chilli powder or flakes, to taste (optional)
2 capsicums, sliced into strips
Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
800g tin of chopped tomatoes + optional 400g tin
2 x 400g tins of beans
A truck load of washed and roughly chopped flat leaf parsley (optional)
1. Put jazz music on. Swap your shoes for slippers. Consider pouring a glass of wine
2. Warm a good splash of a heat stable oil (i.e. preferably not extra virgin olive oil) in a deep frypan at medium-low heat. Saute sliced onions until soft and golden.
3. Add capsicum.
4. When veg have softened, add spices and stir for a minute or until fragrant
5. Add the 800g tinned tomato and tinned beans. Stare at it, and decide whether you want that extra 400g of tomato (recommended if you want a more conventional saucy ‘beans’ dish to serve with breakfast or as part of Shakshuka)
6. Simmer vigorously until thickened, (best not to completely space out at this point, I’ve discovered…) and season with salt and pepper. The thicker the better.
Serve topped with flat parsley and buttered wholemeal toast on the side. Exhale and forget about the week.
Serves 6. A half batch works well for dinner for 1 hungry person, and 2 breakfasts with with egg later on.
You might like to try:
Double the spices (chilli especially) and add avocado on the side.
For a milder and sweeter dish, cook the onion low ’n slow until almost caramelised. For the spices, just use cumin.
Top with sliced poached chicken for a grain free dinner that appeases carnivores and adds extra protein
Double the spices, substitute chickpeas for the cannellini beans and stir in some frozen spinach.
Serve as part of a larger cooked breakfast with fried eggs and seasonal veg cooked together. Spinach, baby zucchini and homegrown tomatoes anyone?
For an approximation of Shakshuka, you can leave out the beans and really let the sauce thicken. This can be done ahead of time; frozen even. Then make some depressions in the sauce and crack eggs into them. Whack a lid on, and hover for a few minutes until the whites have set or are the eggs cooked to your liking. Serve with chunks of bread for dunking and mopping things up.
For more of a veg stew; don’t add the extra tomato, use plenty of capsicum and add leafy greens with the tinned tomato – a pack of frozen spinach or whatever is in the garden.
Freeze leftovers, ready to defrost at a moment’s notice and pop on toast with a poached egg and black pepper. I’ll admit somewhat bashfully that my last attempt at poaching an egg free form was in high school; and it involved losing all vision on account of my glasses being steamed up. Subsequently, most of the egg white was whirled to shreds (I think I did a few other things wrong too…). But moving on. Eggs poached in moulds look just a tad strange, don’t you think? So a rinsed, whacked, peeled and smashed soft boiled egg it is for me. Not that it really looks any better. Perhaps even more horrific to my fore bearers is the fact that I use a tiny little Sunbeam egg cooker. It even cheeps when done. Kitsch, but quick and absolutely manageable for this AM zombie. Only a tiny amount of water is used, as the egg is cooked in steam; so I guess I’m not really boiling the egg. Alas, there’s nothing romantic about my cooking.
How do you like your beans?