Quarantine Style Cheesy Tex- Mex White Beans

Everyday, after teaching 3 and 4 year olds through Zoom, I go for a walk to clear my head, give my eyes a blue light break, and to get out of my apartment. On these walks I take in the beautiful scenery that my neighborhood has to offer, listen to podcasts, stay six feet away from anyone else walking, and dream up recipes in my head. On one walk last week, it came to my mind that I had never made beans "from scratch". I always buy a can, drain the beans, and then fancy them up with some seasonings. Well during another one of my walks, I decided that I was going to change this and learn how to make beans for real.


I'll be honest, when I started developing this recipe I had never purchased dried beans before, or even read a recipe on cooking them. Lack of social interaction and ability to leave my house have lead me to do some interesting things. So I spent some time reading up on how to properly cook beans. I consulted my mother, who stressed the importance of soaking the beans overnight. In the end took all I had learned and concocted what I think is an effective and easy way to make beans '"from scratch".


After reading up on proper bean cooking technique, raiding my pantry, and focusing on flavors I felt would taste good in beans, I came up with the recipe for Quarantine Style Cheesy Tex-Mex White Beans. I added quarantine style to the name, because due to our current conditions, I am not able to get certain ingredients at the grocery store. Nor do I make trips for one or two things. I wait until I need many things and only go to the store when absolutely necessary. So in this dish, there are some ingredients that I normally might not consider using, as well as some ingredients that I feel are missing, but that I couldn't get. This is how I cook now, making substitutions and leaving some things out in order to keep myself and others safe. When this is all over, I will make the bean recipe of my dreams, full of all the fresh ingredients I wanted to use in this one.


The end result of this dish is a warm and cheesy bowl of comforting and filling beans. They stand up pretty well on their own but also can pair well with tacos, as a side dish, or my personal favorite way, on top of fluffy rice. Making beans isn't an exact science, so you will need to be a little patient/flexible on the cooking time. I promise, the end result is well worth an extra hour or so of simmering. I've never tasted beans that are so flavorful! I hope you make these at home and enjoy them! If you can read this recipe, and exhibit enough patience to let the beans cook, you can cook these beans!


Ingredients:

1 14 oz bag white cannellini beans

1/2 red onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, diced

2 dried bay leaves

1 15 oz jar salsa (I use mild but if you like a little heat, go for a medium or hot jar)

2 tsp adobo powder

Salt and pepper

4 tbsp Cilantro, plus more for garnishing

Mexican blend shredded cheese, for topping


To Make:

1. Pour beans into a large bowl, check the beans for any irregularities or random things in your bag of beans. I found a dried corn kernel in my bag. Remove anything you find that isn't a bean. Cover beans with about 6 inches of water, cover the bowl, place in the fridge and let sit overnight.



2. When ready to cook the beans, drain them well and place in.a large pot. Cover with three to five inches of water, add 1/4 tsp of salt (don't worry we will add more later) and bring to a gentle boil over a medium heat. Lower the heat to low and let the beans simmer for one hour!

3. When the hour is up, beans should be softer, but not yet soft enough to be considered edible. Add in red onion, garlic, bay leaves, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Allow the beans to continue simmering with the additions for an hour. Your kitchen will smell amazing for this hour!



4. Check the beans for doneness. Mine were not yet soft enough for an enjoyable eating experience. So I simmered for another half hour and checked again, they were ready at this point. But like I said, bean making isn't an exact science with cooking time, so it is likely that yours can take more time or less time than mine. Use your best judgment!

5. When your beans are done to your desired doneness its time to fully season the beans! Turn off heat and add your jar of salsa, adobo, cilantro, and salt/pepper to taste. Stir seasoning in gently, as to not break up the beans . Cover and let sit for 45 minutes, this gives the beans time to really absorb all the flavor.



6. When ready to serve, heat the beans over a low flame until warm again. Remove the bay leaves and spoon beans into a bowl (I put mine over rice) and sprinkle with cheese/ additional cilantro and enjoy!

*Optional enhancement- I wanted my cheese melted and browned so I placed my beans in an oven safe bowl, sprinkled with cheese, and broiled them for five minutes.




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