Spinach Pinenut Pilaf

This is from the Beans and Barley Volume 3, it's their Spinach Pinenut Pilaf. This is probably the simplest tasty dish that I've made since I gave up pouring jarred pasta sauce on noodles for dinner. It's very easy, the only chopping is of the "oinion" (I found a typo in the book) and the spinach. I also tried the "chiffonade" cut of the leaves for the first time, which is a great way to cut them.

This is really nicely flavored, being that there isn't much to season it (onion, salt and pepper), it really takes on the broth flavor that you cook the rice in, so be sure to use a broth that you really like the taste of. I used Better Than Bouillon brand faux chicken flavor, which was perfect in this. It's nice to taste the pure flavors of the pinenuts and spinach- usually I make recipes so complex that individual flavors don't stand out like this. I think it would be good with the chicken-style seitan from RFD and some kind of saucy-sauce on that. It is a side, but makes a good light lunch alone too.

Tarascan Bean Soup

This is the Tarascan Bean Soup from Beans and Barley's Little Book of Beans Volume One. I'm not sure what they were going for with this (or what I was going for with this slanty slanty pic). The soup is basically a soupier version of refried beans, which I'm not fond of eating by the bowl. It could be "soup" if you thin it like the directions say, but I'm not sure why you'd want that. I had thought before I made it that it would be more of a hearty, whole bean soup.

After soaking the dried pintos overnight and making the soup, I basically realized that it's refried beans in soupy form and decided that it wasn't for me. I ate this bowl to be sure (it was weird), and then cooked it longer to thicken it and just made a mexican casserole with this, black beans, the spanish rice from RFD and tortillas. It was pretty good.

So, using this soup as a refried bean mixture (keeping it thick) is a winner- except I would ditch the coriander seeds. I really don't know what those were doing in there, and when you hit one while eating, it's overpowering (and makes you just want curry). On the whole, the recipe's not so much of a winner, but it was fine and on the up side- this was the first time that I used dried beans in a recipe (I'm slightly embarrassed to admit). My goal is to start using them at least half of the time or more in the future. They're cheaper, have less sodium and make me feel more like a real cook!

Mediterranean "Chicken" Salad

Yum. I think that the Beans and Barley cookbooks have such great salads in them because a) they have a deli, and b) it's so cold all winter that people in Milwaukee get really excited in summer to be outside and have cookouts and eat great picnic food. Like the Mexican Quinoa from book two or ...this salad! It's from the Beans book Volume 3 (thank you again, Nicholas V!)

This was intended to be a salad using chicken along with parmesan cheese. I skipped the cheese (although I could tell from the flavors of the salad that it would be really excellent on it), and I veganized it by using the "chicken style" seitan from Real Food Daily's book.

The salad is pretty quick to mix up (after spending 2+ hours making the seitan). Just some noodles, fresh spinach, diced tomatoes, red bell and red onion and some pine nuts. The dressing is good too, a teeny bit goes a long way. Also, since Davey hates vinegar, I reduced that by 1T and it was pretty great. Unless you love vinegar, I'd recommend cutting the recommended 3T down to 2, it's a nice balance of flavors with less.

This would be great to take on a picnic or to make for a summer meal, it's nice and light but still pretty filling with the faux chick, noodles and pine nuts. So the verdict is, I'm super happy to have more Beans and Barley books!