During years of working as a high school counselor and trying to be a good wife and mom I developed a fairly reliable selection of easy menus that were the basis of many happy family dinners. To be considered reliable, the dishes had to be acknowledged as delicious by everyone at the table. Preferably the recipe involved was something that could “cook by itself” while the cook was doing something else. Being inexpensive and providing nice leftovers was an added bonus.
Fast forward to the present and it’s pretty obvious by the fit of our trousers if nothing else, many of us have been entertaining ourselves during the pandemic with cooking slightly more extensively elaborate meals. It was exciting for about a minute, but I think maybe we are all ready for some reliable dishes that can be whipped up without running the dishwasher twice.
This menu begins in the best of ways, “It was a dark and stormy night.” Actually, storms were moving along but it was the first chill of autumn and that’s worthy of a comfort dish. There in the cabinet sat a perfectly unremarkable can of black beans reminding me of how much we once adored black beans right from a can cooked with garlic, tomatoes, and onions in a bit of chicken broth with a tiny tipple of rum as the secret ingredient.
If you have 5 minutes to get this started and thirty minutes to gently simmer the pot then you have the basis for many a fine dinner. Speaking from the heart (or maybe stomach) it’s hard to top a marvelous dish of black beans with fresh jalapenos, a splash of lime juice, and crumbled Mexican cheese. Cornbread is a nice but unnecessary accompaniment. With crispy tortilla chips you can produce nachos that could win the heart of anyone. Roll these black beans up in whole wheat tortillas and provide little dishes of salsa and sour cream for dipping and it’s a family favorite. Add last night’s leftover chicken, steak, or a little cooked sausage and then it’s a party. See what I mean! Sometimes those fancy gourmet experiments are fun, but every now and then don’t you just want to sit back and enjoy something simple and perfect? This recipe will do the trick. Enjoy!
(This is for 2 people – easy to do the math for a crowd.)
½ small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ cup cherry tomatoes or chopped fresh or canned tomatoes
1 tsp olive oil
1 can black beans, undrained (if making for a crowd drain every other can used)
1 tsp cumin
½ cup chicken or vegetable broth
3-4 drops preferred hot sauce
1 -2 tsp rum (optional)
In a saucepan heat olive oil over medium high heat.
Add onion, garlic, and tomatoes and sauté until softened – about 5 minutes – breaking up tomatoes as the mixture cooks.
Add black beans, cumin, broth, hot sauce and rum.
Reduce to a simmer and stirring occasionally for 30 minutes.
Serve as desired – see above suggestions or invent your own creation.