Written by Stephanie Carmon
The biodiversity in Mexico never ceases to amaze me. I look around at the birds and flowering trees with wonder. Sometimes my wonder would fade when I walked the grocery store and couldn’t find some of my old favorites. I’ve learned to adapt some of my recipes to use more sweet potatoes, and local pumpkins but there is one place where Mexico has grown my pantry. Beans and peppers.
When I walked down the long bean aile the first time I saw speckled things and more varieties than I was used to. I stuck close to my lentils, chickpeas and blackbeans. Soon shopping at the market, I learned about more lentil varieties (http://midcitybeat.com/nik_jameson_three_bean_chili.html). In true Mexican form I’ve also come to learn about various types of blackbeans.
Black beans vs Jamapa
I was complaining once that my black beans didn’t taste anything like my mother-in-law’s. The very first thing she said was, “are you using jamapa?” I said, “no, I’m using black beans.” She laughed but explained that jamapa was a type of black bean and was smaller, softer and much better. Of course, it’s only an opinion but I agree I enjoy jamapa’s better and they are sold in every market right next to the regularly labeled black beans. If you haven’t tried them yet, today’s a good day for beans.
The second tip from my mother-in-law was epazote. This tiny green leaf turned out to be the ingredient I was searching for. Now I keep a plant growing in the garden but it can be easily found where you get your veggies.
Chipotle is the perfect spice to add to beans, soups and other sauces Chipotle is a great pepper to have in the kitchen because thanks to it’s tin packaging it is found all over the world. I love the tiny little serving tins because and you can buy the small size you actually need instead of something too large and they are recyclable (http://midcitybeat.com/reducing_waste_while_living_in_Merida.html)
How to use beans?
My favorite is Molletes. A simple toast with beans, cheese and pico de gallo.
Molletes were something I didn’t know about for a while because they are made in the oven, not worth it in this already hot climate. Finally, I have a toaster oven and the recipe is more than perfect for breakfast, snacks, or light meals. I have my husband to thank for making me my first mollete.
Refried Beans Recipe: Ingredients:
1 cup beans (or 1 can) ½ onion 2-6 cloves of garlic 2 chipotles (from can with adobo sauce) Salt and pepper to taste
To cook the beans:
Soak 1 cup of sorted and washed beans overnight. Place the beans and their soaking water in a pan, boil with salt, pepper, 2 cloves of garlic, ¼ an onion and epazote. Add water as needed to keep beans submerged. Simmer for 30-45 minutes until the beans are soft.
Alternatively, use 1 can of beans in the following recipe.
To refry beans:
Add the cooked beans and 1-2 chipotles peppers to a blender.
Blend with ¼-½ cup of their cooking water until smooth.
If using canned beans, I wash them and use just plain water to lower the salt and preservatives content.
Add 1 T of oil to a skillet and heat.
Chop ¼ onion and 2-4 cloves of garlic.
Saute the onion and garlic with salt until fragrant.
Add the chipotle bean puree and simmer on medium-low 5-10 minutes until desired thickness is reached.
Serves 4 people, easily halved
4 bolillo bread rolls
2 cups refried beans Slices of cheese ¼ onion
4 roma tomatoes
1 lime Salt and pepper to taste
Slice your bread down the middle and spread refried beans onto both cut sides. Cover with sliced cheese of choice and toast for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and bread is just starting to brown. Meanwhile, make pico de gallo. Chop ¼ of an onion into very small cubes. Chop 4 roma tomatoes into small cubes and mix with onion in a bowl. Add salt to taste, squeeze in about ½ a lime or until taste. Add cilantro as desired.
Best eaten fresh.
Serve the toasted molletes hot with fresh pico de gallo on top. Buen provecho!
Article, recipe and photos by Nik Jameson from https://nikofthyme.com/
Also for some great Vegan food visit her and her husband’s restaurant https://www.facebook.com/Distritoveganomx/
And they have their own line of vegan food at https://www.facebook.com/bluedeerfood/