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Easy Bean Recipes

January finds many of us longing for simple, satisfying
meals after the fast pace of the holiday season. Dishes containing dried beans
are economical and packed with nutrition. The Easy Red Beans and Rice pictured
are a snap to make and will satisfy the heartiest appetites. One of my favorites
is my version of Mexican Charro Beans. While reviewing restaurants in Texas I
ate this southwestern dish quite often. Try some of my easy bean recipes this
month and take time to enjoy the stillness.

SIMPLE LENTILS

2 cups dried lentils

1 quart water

2 teaspoons salt

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1/2 cup olive oil

2 to 3 drops Tabasco sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

Pick over the lentils and wash thoroughly. Add water
and allow them to sit overnight. In the morning, replace water with 1 quart
fresh water and salt. Simmer lentils 40 minutes to 1 hour, until tender but
not broken. Drain lentils, reserving 1 cup of the liquid. Sauté onion and garlic
in olive oil until onions are tender and translucent. Add to lentils along with
cup of liquid. Add Tabasco sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Serves 4 to 6.

EASY RED BEANS AND RICE

1 lb. smoked sausage, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 large onion, chopped

1 medium green pepper, chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 (30-oz.) can dark-red kidney beans, drained

1 (16-oz.) can tomatoes, chopped with juice

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon pepper

3 cups hot cooked rice, brown or white

Cook sausage over low heat 6 to 8 minutes. Add onion,
green pepper, and garlic; sauté until vegetables are tender. Add beans, tomatoes,
oregano, and pepper. Simmer, uncovered, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve with cooked
rice. Serves 4 to 6.

GREAT GARBANZOS

1 medium onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

2 carrots, grated

2 potatoes, cubed

1 fresh tomato, chopped

1/2 teaspoon ginger root, grated

1/4 cup vegetable broth

2 cups cooked garbanzo beans

1/2 cup tomato paste

1 (15-oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained

1/4 teaspoon coriander

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large stockpot sauté onion, garlic, carrots,
and ginger root in vegetable broth for 10 minutes. Add potatoes and fresh tomato.
Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Add remaining
ingredients and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes more.
Serves 6 to 8.

MEXICAN CHARRO BEANS

1 lb. dried pinto beans

6 strips bacon, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

4 medium fresh plum tomatoes, chopped

2 medium onions, chopped

1 medium green pepper, chopped

1 (12-oz.) can of beer (or substitute water)

1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped

2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Rinse and pick over beans. Bring to a boil in a
large pot of water and cook over medium heat 1-1/2 to 2 hours until tender but
still firm. Before beans are done, fry bacon in a large skillet until halfway
cooked. Add garlic, tomatoes, onions, and green pepper; continue cooking with
bacon until crisp. Add a can of beer (or water) to bacon mixture and simmer
a few additional minutes, or longer if you like your beans softer and less soupy.
Add chopped cilantro and jalapenos; combine everything in one large pot. Add
salt and pepper to taste. Serves 6.

BAKED BEANS

1 lb. navy beans

6 cups water

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 pound salt pork, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 small onion, chopped

1/3 cup molasses

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Soak beans overnight in 6 cups of water. In the
morning, add baking soda and bring to a boil. Lower heat and continue to boil
for 10 minutes. Drain, reserving liquid. Place salt pork, onion, and beans in
a 2-quart casserole or bean pot. Combine molasses, sugar, dry mustard, pepper,
and 1 cup reserved liquid. Pour over beans and stir. Add just enough reserved
liquid to cover beans (about 1 cup). Cover casserole or bean pot and bake at
300° for 2 hours. Add remaining liquid and stir. Bake an additional 1-1/2 to
2 hours, or until beans are tender and liquid is absorbed. Serves 8.

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