I may have chosen a horrible topic to blog about. Why? Because healthy foods are generally not the most aesthetically-pleasing and tasty foods in the world. I guess that isn’t wholly true, but the recipe I cooked on Friday night reminded me that not all foods are photogenic.
Oftentimes, brown-color foods — unless it is chocolate or steak — never turn out good on a camera. The colors are just bland and if the dish is soggy, the food will look like mushy “goop.” Particularly, beans are one of the food items that people don’t usually marvel at in a photo. This is unfortunate because beans are health-food wonders. They have high fiber content, a good amount of protein, and no fat. I think everyone should learn to love beans.
So on Friday night, I made beans with orange because I noticed that we had a surplus of black beans and kidney beans in the pantry. I opened up Mark Bittman’s handy-dandy How to Cook Everything and flipped to the beans section. The recipe that immediately caught my eyes was “Beans with Orange.” The name sounded so simple yet intriguing. I had never heard of such a dish, but apparently it is a traditional and popular dish in South America. What drew my eyes to that recipe even more was the fact that I had one single orange left in the refrigerator. Having eaten nine of the ten oranges my dad bought a few weeks ago raw, I thought that incorporating the tangy, sweet fruit into a recipe would be a novel idea. Hence, I decided that the beans with orange recipe would be perfect.
The final product was quite tasty. There were several layers of flavors that went together so beautifully. The complexity of the dish was deep. Even my dad, who normally does not like my cooking, went for more than seconds.
The dish pairs really well with rice. I prefer brown rice because it is healthier, but white rice will supplement the dish well also. Coincidentally, there was only white rice left in the rice maker on Friday night, so I was forced to eat white rice.
First off, the cast of characters! The ingredients for this recipe are very simple. Beans, tomatoes, orange, onion, orange juice, balsamic vinegar, sausage/kielbasa, cumin, and green onions. Okay, so maybe that wasn’t that simple…
As you can tell, my kielbasa are cut into triangles and cubes.
Next, I un-canned the canned beans and put them in the pot to boil.
I also added the canned tomatoes into the pot of beans before boiling.
Then I cut the oranges in half and peeled the skin off one half.
The oranges should look like this after peeling. They look very juicy…
Throw the peel into the pot of beans and tomatoes. This will add one of the subtle layers of flavor into the dish.
Next, chop up the onions like this!
Set those chopped onions aside for now and start cooking the sausage/kielbasa on a pan.
In a few minutes, the sausage should shrink and there should be some char marks on them.
Once the sausages are semi-cooked, add the onions! Now we won’t have to stare at the boring pinkish color of sausage.
In another few minutes, the onions should brown up also!
Next, add a few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and let the balsamic evaporate. At this point, you should have something that could qualify as a dish all on its own. I snuck in a few bites at this point because the sausage looked so juicy and the onions so soft.
By the way, the pot of beans and tomatoes should be boiling by now. If they are good, add the sausage and onions to the pot. If they are not, add the sausage and onions anyways! You can also add the green onions at this time. If you want though, you can save the green onions for later, as a garnish.
After allowing the mixture to simmer for a little longer, maybe 5-10 minutes, serve the dish in a bowl with a scoop of rice. Use the oranges we cut up earlier as a garnish to the dish.
Going back to what I said in the beginning, this dish does not look tasty. However, I strongly recommend this dish because it is, in actuality, very savory and fulfilling.
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