Ingredient 30 – Bola Roja Beans

I forgot to take a picture of these in their bag so I took one of them when they’d finished an overnight soak. I have had these for ages; I think they came in the same swap parcel as the manioc flour from the mystery person (is this ringing any bells yet for someone?).

The beans are massive, even in their bag they looked big but by the time I’d soaked and cooked them they were huge, and pleasingly round. I discovered that they’re a Colombian bean so I turned to the ever reliable Viva Vegan and found a recipe called Colombian Style Beans with Plantains so I decided to make them. I’m not really an expert with plantains and I’m not even sure I like them, but I’d spotted both green and yellow versions in my Indian shop recently so thought I’d give them a try.

This was not a hard recipe to make but was quite time consuming as even after soaking and cooking the beans you need to make a sofrito, add the other ingredients and even then cook it for 40 minutes (watch your stock levels during this part; mine almost burnt dry). The book suggests serving it with fried sweet plantains so I decided to go for a double plaintain whammy and make these alongside some lime coriander rice and pickled red onions.

I loved the round earthiness of these beans and everyone at my seo services uk workgroup did too. The bean dish itself was quite sweet so the lime and coriander rice was a good choice to contrast against it. But the star of the show for me were the fried plantains. I sprinkled a little lime and salt on them out of the pan and they were absolutely delicious – crisp yet fluffy and so tasty that I’m gutted I’ve been missing out on them for so long!

I cooked the whole bag and put the rest of the cooked beans on the freezer so does anyone have any other suggestions for using them?

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Ingredient 20 – Corn Husks

I think these may have been another gift from the lovely Amey. Unlike some of the other ingredients featured this month, I always know what I wanted to with these, but I was just intimidated at the thought of making TAMALES. I’ve only ever eaten them once, for brunch at Watercourse Foods in Denver quite a few years ago. MoFo was the inspiration to get me into the kitchen and get rolling!

I decided to make the seitan red chile tamales from Viva Vegan. I had some red seitan in the freezer already which speeded up the process considerably and I made the chile sauce in advance too, to make the task more manageable. When it actually came to it, it wasn’t as bad as I’d expected and was actually quite therapeutic. Mind you, I enjoy making pierogi, ravioli and other fiddly kitchen jobs so perhaps it was to be expected. I especially liked the fact that they spend an hour in the steamer so that there’s plenty of time to put together the sides, which in my case consisted of the lime coriander rice from the same book, pickled red onions left over from last week, some salsa and avocado slices.

Despite my worries, these worked absolutely beautifully. They peeled away from the corn husks and stayed together. The filling was spicy and astonishingly meaty – they tasted wonderful and the accompaniments went really well.

I have a couple of batches in the freezer for quick meals but I won’t be intimidated about making them again.

I’m sure there are lots of corn husk experts out there!