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When I was in college, beans and rice were a pantry staple. Together they were a complete protein. But, most importantly for a student budget, they were affordable, filling, and tasty.
When my eldest son was a toddler, he would often turn his little nose away from something he had devoured the day before; but I could always count on him to eat rice and beans. To this day, when he sees a dish with beans in them, he does a happy dance and always asks for seconds...and sometimes thirds.
While I often cook dry beans from scratch all day in a Dutch oven, that's not always convenient - especially if I forgot to soak them the night before. So, I stock canned beans in the pantry, too. Canned beans are great to have on-hand for quick, easy meals. And, even better: canned beans are not a specialty item. They are readily available in every grocery store and most convenience stories. Use their product locator to find whatever Bush's Beans you need: here. I love that Walmart carries them, too!
I picked up multiple cans of Bush's Black Beans, Pinto Beans, and Garbanzo Beans and even taste-tested the difference between the Reduced Sodium and the regular versions of those as well. Then I set to work developing different recipes with beans.
But, hands down, the recipe my family voted for me to share - Chimichurri Pinto Beans & Roots Soft Tacos. It's a great meatless Monday option and something that we've made several times in recent weeks. You can make all of the components ahead of time and just heat what you need for a speedy dinner.
By 'roots', in this instance, I used carrots, potatoes, and onions. But, in other versions, I've tried this same recipe with beets and celery root. It's a flexible process that's easily adaptable for whatever you might have on-hand. Get creative!
For me, it's the chimichurri that makes these soft tacos unique. If you're unfamiliar, chimichurri is an essential part of Argentinean cuisine; it's not an exaggeration to say that there's probably a bowl of chimichurri to be found on every Argentinian dinner table. It's delicious and incredibly easy to make.
Chimichurri is typically served with steak, but it's also great on other proteins. And with the addition of lots of fresh herbs, the flavor is incredible. Chimichurri kicks up beans more than a few notches.
- 1/4 C parsley
- 3 T vinegar (I prefer sherry vinegar)
- 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and pressed
- 2 T oregano leaves
- 1 t thyme leaves
- 2 t crushed red pepper
- 1/2 C olive oil
- freshly ground pepper, as needed
- freshly ground salt, as needed
- 2 C carrots, diced
- 2 C potatoes, cubed
- 1 C onions, cubed
- olive oil
- 1 t ground cumin
- 1 t smoked paprika
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and pressed
- 1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
- corn tortillas (here's a recipe for Homemade Tortillas, if you're feeling ambitious)
- 1 C queso fresco, crumbled
- a variety of salsas
In the bowl of a food processor, combine all of the ingredients except the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Process until smooth, drizzling in the oil until desired texture; season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and let stand for, at least 30 minutes. If you are making this ahead of time, place in a lidded jar and keep in the refrigerator.
Before serving, add the beans to the chimichurri and stir until well-combined.
Pre-heat oven to 400˚F. Place the carrots, potatoes, onions, garlic, and spices in a large mixing bowl. Toss to coat with olive oil and spread into a single layer on a parchment-lined or silicone sheet-lined tray. Roast until tender and browned, approximately 30 to 40 minutes.
Heat the tortillas quickly over an open flame or in a pan.
We like a variety of salsas. I usually offer a salsa fresca, a roasted salsa, and - sometimes - pickled red onions.
Do you have a favorite way to use beans? And, do you have a great meatless taco idea? I'd love to hear it!
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