Beans are not beautiful.
Actually, uncooked beans can be quite beautiful. But once beans are cooked they are they are less than sexy. I have fond memories of beans, delicious flavorful beans. I am from Tennessee and beans were a staple in our diet. We were poor and didn’t eat meat every day. (Well, of course there was bacon or ham hocks in the beans, but a proper meat entrée wasn’t always available.) I know now as an adult but these beans were very overcooked but for some reason that is still my standard of delicious. Lately I’ve been cooking beans trying to get good flavor without creating a bowl full of mush. Of course in the case of red beans and rice Louisiana style- a big bowl of mush is exactly what they should be! So perhaps the standards are regional?
Last week I was at the farmers market and fresh pinto beans were available! Of course I scooped up a pound or so and decided to give it a go. I washed and separated the beans, covered them with water and cooked them for a few hours. After the 1st couple of hours of cooking I added in some pan fried andouille sausage and let them cook for another hour or so. They came out great, but… Again not sexy. To make them a little more attractive I went for the old Texas (Tex-Mex) standby–pico de gallo. “Pico” as it’s called in my house is pretty simple and straightforward, the most important thing is to use the freshest ingredients possible.
Pico de gallo is a simple mix of firm tomatoes, cilantro, onion, and peppers. I have 3 banana pepper plants growing out back so I decided to use one of the banana peppers to give my pico a little personality. Pretty much all you do is cut the tomatoes into chunks remove the seeds, chop the onion, chop the cilantro, and chop the peppers. You can add a little lime juice if you’d like I usually don’t but this time I did because I had an abundance of limes. Once everything is chopped it makes a beautiful dish like this.
The pico de gallo added a wonderful flavor to the beans and also gave them a bit of crunch and spice. I don’t always add pico de gallo to my beans, sometimes I like to have them southern style and serve them with cornbread and pan- fried potatoes. Not quite as beautiful but definitely just as delicious. I think beans are good any time of year, even if it’s hot outside you can use them cold as a salad, such as black-eyed peas in a dish called Texas caviar. How about you friends? Do you eat beans year around? And please tell me, how do you make your beans sexier?