We’re picking the very first of the limes, which opens up a whole batch of central American recipes. They’re still a bit green but juicy enough. And the third round of beans for the season are now bearing, so I also now have so many green beans of various kinds that even my favourites – the snake beans – are being allowed to grow out to mature for shelling. So Mexican it has to be.
Brown seeded snake beans are quite small seeds so they cook fast. They’re a good flavour, a bit like azuki beans, a bit sweeter than the traditional black beans, and they make great bean paste.
Bean paste is one of my late summer fridge staples. You can make it spicy or not, and I usually make a double batch so I have it for sandwich spreads or for turning into refritos to have alongside an egg for breakfast. It’s low GI, full of protein, soluble fibre, vitamins and minerals, and it has a kind of smoothness that makes it seem decadent when it’s not at all.
This looks like a lot of ingredients and stages, but the ingredients are pretty likely to be in the pantry or garden and the stages are just because multitasking is the way to do it in half an hour. I made it in half an hour from scratch, just to see if I could, and it does come together. If you start with cooked beans it would be easy.
Makes two huge quesadillas – I couldn’t eat a whole one.
Step One: The Cooked Beans
If you start with dried beans, you need to soak them overnight or for the day, both to soften them and, more importantly, because they have a kind of complex, indigestible sugar called oligosaccharide in their skin. It gives some people wind, but it’s water soluble, so soaking gets rid of it.
I started with a good half cup of brown seeded snake bean seeds, dried but fresh grown this season, soaked in cold water for the day. Drain off the soaking water, replace with a cup and a half of fresh water and a good pinch of salt, and pressure cook for 5 minutes or boil for 15 till soft. You should end up with a cup of cooked beans.
Step Two: The Tortillas
While the beans are cooking, mix a soft dough with
- ½ cup wholemeal plain flour
- ½ cup wholemeal self raising flour
- pinch salt
- Dessertspoon olive oil
- ¹/3 cup water
I just tip the lot into my trusty Braun food processor, and it does it in literally a minute.
Knead the dough briefly. Divide it into two balls and let it rest while you go on to make the salsa and the bean paste.
Step Three: The Tomato Salsa
- Mix ²/3 cup of finely diced tomato
- ½ cup finely diced cucumber
- ½ a red onion, finely diced
- a good handful of lime basil, finely diced (or you could use coriander)
- a pinch salt
- a squeeze lime juice
- a teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Let it sit while you make the bean paste for the flavours to mingle.
Step Four: The Bean Paste
- Gently fry a diced onion in a little olive oil till translucent.
- Add a little chili (to taste), a couple of cloves of garlic, crushed, and a scant teaspoon each of cumin powder and coriander powder.
- Add the beans along with their cooking water and simmer gently for around ten minutes till it is reduced to almost dry.
- Squeeze in the juice of a lime, and tip the lot into a blender or food processor, or pass through a mouli, to make a bean paste.
Step Five: Assembling
Lightly flour your bench top and a rolling pin, and roll the two dough balls out to make very thin tortillas, about 25 cm round. Cook them in a dry, hot pan (or on a hot barbeque plate) for one to two minutes each side. They should be still soft.
Spread each tortilla thickly with the bean paste, then over half of it, spread
- a little labneh (strained yoghurt) (or avocado, or sour cream)
- a little grated cheese
- the tomato salsa
Fold in half, then fry each quesadilla in a lightly oiled frypan or barbeque plate until the tortilla is toasted and the cheese melted.
Cut in half to serve.
Did you do the Tuesday Night Vego Challenge this week? Links welcome.