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Recipes

Big Pot o' Beans, The Diaspora Way

Recipe By: Asha Loupy

Serves: 6 – 8

Big Pot o' Beans, The Diaspora Way
Photo by:  

Melati Citrawireja

Sometimes the most exciting place on the internet is the #Recipes Diaspora Co. Slack Channel. It’s where our motley, spicy lil crew dreams up most of the recipes that live in this incredibly cookable, little corner of the interwebs. Recently, the subject was one that many people — our team included — have MANY opinions about: The. Perfect. Pot. Of. Beans. After lots of sharing (and, a little debating), we came up with a choose-your-own-adventure pot that is highly spiced, layered with tons of allium goodness, and is just down right lick-your-bowl-when-no-one-is-looking GOOD. Let’s dig into some thoughts:

To soak or not to soak your beans? We say soak! If you have fresher, dried beans that are on the smaller side, go with 4 to 6 hours. If you, like me, sometimes find yourself prepping a bag of beans that was long hidden in your larder, go with 8 hours to an overnight soak. Same longer soak goes for larger beans like scarlet runners, corona, and gigantes.

Water or stock? Our team fell on a spectrum of water only to stock is the sole way to go. You can’t go wrong here — the beans will give up so much legume-y goodness that water works in a pinch, but if you have a little stock, it will only elevate your potful to flavor heights. If I don’t have stock on hand, I will often throw in a spoonful of Better Than Bouillon (a cook’s BFF imo!).

What spices should I use? The world is truly your pot of beans! We’ve listed three different combinations of spices — with flavor profiles ranging from fragrant & fiery to zesty, earthy, with a little kick — to get you started on the journey to YOUR perfect pot of beans. Hot tip: Make sure that if you are using a really hot dried chilli, like Sivathei, that you remove the pepper halfway through cooking so it doesn’t disintegrate fully (and, so someone doesn’t get a mouthful of fire!).

Your dreamiest pot of beans may look a little different than ours, so don’t see this so much as an exact recipe, but a road map to spice and flavor — what spice and flavor is totally up to you!

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Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried beans, soaked overnight and drained
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, ghee, schmaltz, or other tasty fat
  • 1 large onion, peeled, root left intact, and quartered
  • 1 head garlic, top quarter sliced off
  • 2 stalks green garlic (optional)
  • Water, vegetable or chicken stock, or a mix of the two
  • Spice mix of your choice (see below for some inspiration)
  • Salt, to to taste
Spice mix #1 – Aromatic & a little sweet
Spice mix #2 – Fragrant & fiery
Spice mix #3 – Zesty, earthy with a little kick

Methods

  1. Place the dried beans in a large bowl and cover with cold water. If you have fresher, dried beans that are on the smaller side, go with 4 to 6 hours. If you, like me, sometimes find yourself prepping a bag of beans that was long hidden in your larder, go with 8 hours to an overnight soak. Same longer soak goes for larger beans like scarlet runners, corona, and gigantes. When ready to use, drain well.
  2. Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and let it heat for 30 seconds. Add the onion quarters, garlic, and green, garlic, if using, cut side down and cook until deep golden, about 2 to 3 minutes per side for the garlic and green garlic and 4 minutes per side for the onions.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and push the alliums to one side of the pan. Add your whole seed spices and cook until they start to sputter and turn a shade darker, about 15 to 30 seconds. Add the soaked, drained beans and cover with water, stock, or a mix of the two. Stir in powdered spices and add any leaves, like tejpatta, and whole, dried chillies. If using preserved lemon, add this here, too. Increase the heat to medium high and bring the pot to a gentle boil, skimming off any foam that forms.
  4. Reduce the heat to low, cover partially, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are fully cooked. Halfway through cooking, salt the beans, to taste. The cooking time will depend on the freshness and size of the beans you are using, ranging from just under 2 hours to 4 hours. Serve immediately or use in your favorite bean-based recipes. Store any leftovers in their cooking liquid for up to 1 week in the refrigerator.

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