When I was a freshman in college I had the unusual privilege, at the age of 18, to move in to an apartment with some friends during my second semester (it was no easy battle to convince my parents of the necessity of this move at the time, let me tell you). It was in this college apartment that I began to experiment with self care through the preparation of healthy meals for myself. My apartment-mate was newly vegan, creative in the kitchen and a wonderful culinary influence on me. Together we delved in to the world of tempe, tofu, and tamari and on my own I read Diet for a Small Planet for the first time. All of this lead me to consider new ways of thinking about food and feeding myself that would stay with me for years.
One of my favorite dishes during this time was a black bean stir fry that has continued as a staple in my life since. Of course it varies a bit, depending on what ingredients are available to me. I always use canned black beans, onions, some type of heavy green (back then it was frozen spinach, these days it’s fresh kale), and something red. This week I used all of the above, and the red came in the form of grape tomatoes (requested by my daughter at the grocery store that very afternoon). I started by sauteing grated carrots, chopped onions and some ginger in olive oil.
Once those ingredients began to soften, I added the beans. I use canned, organic store-brand and black are my favorite for this type of dish. Then in went the chopped kale, and once that wilted a bit, the grape tomatoes, cut in half.
Toward the end I added a little chicken stock, made that same day, to soften the beans and to create some liquid to flavor the rice and quinoa mixture that the beans would go on top of. Salt and pepper to taste. This dish is really simple and really good for you. It can be modified indefinitely. It’s a good burrito filling, good on rice, good with stock added to it to make a soup. During my freshman year in college I was figuring out how to not just eat macaroni and cheese from a box every time I was exhausted at dinner time and hadn’t been to the grocery store in a while. Cooking had overwhelmed me a little, but I was starting to find ways to enjoy preparing and thinking about food. This black bean dish kind of epitomizes for me the solidification of a commitment to a lifetime of figuring out how to make food that is good for me, as well as easy to make and pleasurable to eat.