Black Bean Summer Squash Taco Filling

Desperation can be a source of inspiration in cooking. When an unexpected guest was also a vegetarian I threw together something I had on hand and suddenly we had a tasty alternative to Turkey Tacos I typically make.

Not planning on having tacos tonight? This works equally as well as a side dish.

Black Bean Summer Squash Taco Filling
Servings: 4-6
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1 onion, cut into 1/4″ dice
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and cut into 1/4″ dice
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 yellow summer squashes, cut into 1/4″ dice (see notes)
  • 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. dried Mexican oregano, crushed
  • black pepper to taste, extra salt for cooking

Directions:

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a 12″ non-stick skillet over medium for about 1 minute. Add the onions and bell pepper, sprinkle with salt and toss to coat in the oil. Cook for 5 minutes, stirrings once or twice.
  2. Add the jalapeno and garlic, stirring them into the carrot and bell pepper. Cook until fragrant, which should only take 30 second to a minute. Transfer the onions, peppers and garlic to a bowl and set aside.
  3. Return the skillet to the stove, add the remaining oil and increase the heat to high. When the oil is just beginning to smoke add the summer squash and a generous sprinkle of salt. Spread the squash along the bottom of the skillet and cook, undisturbed for 2 minutes. Toss the pan to redistribute the squash and cook another minute.
  4. Return the onion mixture to the pan and add the remaining ingredients. Stir to combine, reduce heat to medium low and cook for 10 minutes.
  5. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as desired.

Notes:
Your 3 summer squashes should be 6-8″ long and no more than 2-2.5″ in diameter. I prep them removing the ends and cutting them lengthwise into quarters. I then remove the layer of seeds, cut the remaining squash flesh into 1/4″ wide strips and, finally, cutting them into 1/4″ cubes.

Cucumber and Bean Salad with Citrus Dressing

I wanted a side dish that would combine some fresh vegetables (cukes/peppers) with some easy protein (canned beans). The dressing is based on one from FoodTV; they used it on a different salad however I liked the sound of it and it worked out well.

Cucumber and Bean Salad with citrus dressing
Servings: 8-12
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 14.5 oz. can chickpeas
  • 1 14.5 oz. can black beans
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, quartered, seeded and cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and cut into 2″ pieces
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

  1. Rinse the chickpeas and black beans, add to a bowl with the cucumbers and red peppers.
  2. In a jar combine the remaining ingredients, shake well. Pour about half of the dressing over the vegetables, toss to combine. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Serve with remaining dressing available for those who want it.

Notes:
The vegetables can be combined up to 2 hours in advance and the the dressing can similarly be made up to a day in advance. Store both in the refrigerator until 30 minutes before serving.

I used Goya low-sodium chickpeas and black beans in this dish. If you aren’t using low-sodium beans then you might want to cut the kosher salt by half in the dressing.

Turkey Tacos

Tacos in our house usually means fish tacos however some of our friends can’t do seafood so we try to provide an alternative. I was able to make this an hour or so before dinner and keep it warm in the slow cooker while I worked on other parts of the menu.

Turkey Tacos
Servings: 4-6
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, 1/4″ dice
  • 1 pkg. ground turkey (that equals 20 oz. at my mega-mart)
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced fine
  • 2 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. ground chipotle
  • 3/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 3/4 cup no salt added chicken broth
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar
  • 3 tsp. cider vinegar

Directions:

  1. Place the garlic and spices in a bowl; set aside. Combine the tomato sauce, broth, brown sugar and vinegar in a measuring cup; set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a non-skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion, stir to coat with oil and cook for about 4 minutes until softened.
  3. Add the garlic and spices to the skillet. Stir to incorporate with the onions and cook until aromatic, about a minute.
  4. Add the ground turkey, break into pieces, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cover. Cook for a minute, break into smaller pieces and cover. Cook for another 2 minutes, break up large pieces again and cook uncovered for a final couple of minutes until the turkey is no longer pink.
  5. Reduce heat to medium-low, add the liquid ingredients and cook uncovered for about 10 minutes. Stir every minute or so and continue to break up any larger pieces of turkey.
  6. Serve up with your favorite taco fixin’s.

Notes:
This recipe is based on a recipe for Beef Tacos from a May 2002 issue of Cook’s Illustrated.

Achiote Grilled Chicken Thighs

We were introduced to achiote via chef Daisy Martinez‘s cooking show, Daisy Cooks!. Achiote (also called annatto) seeds provide an earthy flavor. One of the more common ways to use them is to make a flavored oil that will impart a yellow-orange color to the dishes it is used in (think yellow rice).

Achiote Grilled Chicken Thighs
Servings: 8-10
Prep time: 2 hours
Total time: 2 hours 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 5 Tbsp. achiote (annatto) seeds
  • 1 Tbsp. black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. whole cloves
  • 8 whole allspice berries
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 8 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 Tbsp. fine salt
  • 5 lemons, juiced
  • 4 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Directions:

  1. Combine the annatto, peppercorns, cumin seeds, cloves and allspice berries in a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder. Grind to a fine powder.
  2. In a blender jar combine the spice blend you just ground with all the other ingredients except the lemon and chicken. Blend until smooth.
  3. Add the lemon juice; pulse to combine. This is your marinade. Set aside.
  4. Trim the excess fat off of your chicken thighs. Transfer thighs to a large resealable plastic bag. Add the marinade. Squeeze out as much air as possible and seal. Refrigerate for 2-4 hours.
  5. About 45 minutes before you want to eat light your gas grill, setting all burners on high and close the lid. Allow to heat for 15 minutes.
  6. Scrape any residue from past grilling off the grill and lubricate with 4 or 5 passes of vegetable oil on a paper towel.
  7. Place chicken thighs on the grill, skin(less) side down. Close the lid and cook for 5 minutes.
  8. Flip the chicken and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes. Remove when the internal temperature of a thigh is 160°F. An instant read thermometer is very helpful here.
  9. Serve as is or cut into pieces to use for chicken tacos.

Notes:
Throw out the marinade after putting the chicken on the grill. It’s tainted with raw chicken nastiness.

If the marinade is a bit grainy you can brush off the excess spice mix before grilling. We didn’t bother and it didn’t affect the results as best we can tell.

I found achiote (annatto) seeds in my grocery store in the baking aisle along with the other spices. We’ve also purchased them in the past from Penzeys.

I combined the ideas from a couple of online recipes to come up with this one. Check out this one or this one for inspiration.

Black Bean Soup

In the fall one of my weeknight go-to meals is soup. It’s mostly a combine and simmer effort which is perfect after a day at work and the diminishing light of the day.

Black Bean Soup
Servings: 4-6
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 75 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 medium red onion, 1/4″ dice
  • 2 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 14.5 oz. can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 15 oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • yogurt, diced avocado, chopped cilantro (optional)

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onions and a generous pinch of salt. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes until tender. Add brown sugar, spices and garlic. Stir to combine and heat until fragrant; 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. Add tomato products, broth and orange juice. Stir until tomato paste is incorporated. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add black beans, stir to incorporate and cook for 20 more minutes. Beans should be heated through and slightly softened.
  4. Taste for seasoning; adjust if needed. Serve with in a bowl with your choice of toppings.

Notes:
This recipe is based on one I found while sorting through the stack of recipes that get printed out, made once and forgotten. I’ve tweaked the original recipe to match my preferences and written up my version of the instructions.

The original recipe apparently came from Southern Living magazine circa 2008.

Weeknight Chickpeas

We try to have at least one vegetarian meal each week and when I’m at a loss for what to make I turn to chickpeas. This dish is similar to the Chickpea side dish recipe I posted years back. The flavor profile is different and it makes a filling meal with some rice.

Weeknight Chickpeas
Servings: 2-4
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 green pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1 Serrano pepper, halved, seeded and minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and pressed
  • 2 tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. ground paprika
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground chipotle
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 14.5 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 14.5 oz.can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
  • kosher salt and cracked black pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a sauce pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and peppers. Sprinkle with salt, stir to coat in oil and cook for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, stir and cook until fragrant. Add the spices, incorporate and cook for about 1 minute.
  3. Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, a big pinch of salt and 1/2 cup water. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes.
  4. Taste; chickpeas should be slightly firm outside and creamy inside. Adjust seasoning with salt and black pepper as desired. Serve up on a pile of white rice.

Notes:
I prefer to use Goya Reduced-Sodium Chickpeas for this dish.

A half tablespoon of acid, such as cider vinegar, stirred in to the chickpeas at the end of cooking will enhance the flavor of the dish.

Cucumber Salad

Summer is a season of abundant local produce. Not a week goes by without fresh tomatoes from the garden and gifts of cukes and summer squash from friends and co-workers. We do our best to use it all before it needs to be donated back to the compost pile. Salad is a fine way to consume fresh veggies as long as you, or your friends, will eat the salad. 🙂 This simple, lettuce free, salad comes together quickly and went well with grilled chicken.

[Cucumber Salad]

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