September 4, 2015
Pasta Corta with Black Bean Sauce
This dish is best with pasta corta (short pasta) which will soak up the sauce much better than smooth long pasta. If all you have at hand is spaghetti, linguine or fettuccine, just break them up into small pieces before cooking. Another alternative would be to use Chinese rice noodles.
Black beans are my favorite tasting beans but somewhat hard to cook. A touch of baking soda will solve that problem. I like to soak the dried beans overnight for at least 12 hours with half a teaspoon of baking soda. You could make this disk with canned beans but I try to stay away from processed foods. Home cooking is best. But if you are in a rush, go for the can.
- Six to eight ounces of dried black beans
- Baking soda, half a teaspoonful
- One small onion
- One or two sweet peppers
- Half a bell pepper
- One Chicken or Beef bouillon cube
- Olive oil - optional
- Pasta, 2 to 4 oz per serving
The amount of pasta per serving is somewhat tricky. If it's going to be a one pot meal, use 4 oz. If the pasta is just one of several dishes, use a smaller amount. Pasta corta, being bulkier than smooth noodles, will look like a lot more but it's only visual.
The bean sauce can be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator for several days.
The day before pick clean the dried beans. Wash them thoroughly under running water. Put them in a pot and cover well with water adding the baking soda. Cover and let the beans soak overnight. The longer they soak the less time it takes to cook them.
Drain the beans and discard the soak water. Wash the beans under running water. Put the beans in a deep pot (to prevent the foam from overflowing). Add water to cover to twice the height. Put on medium heat and leave uncovered. When the water starts to boil the beans will foam. Skim off the foam with a slotted spoon and discard.
Chop fine the onion, the sweet and the bell peppers, and the cilantro. When the beans no longer foam and the foam has been removed, add the vegetables.
The cooking time will vary depending on the age and quality of the beans, the hardness of the water and the elevation above sea level of the kitchen. Add water as needed to keep the beans covered, don't let them dry out. By the time the beans are ready you want to have about one cup of beans and liquid per serving.
When the beans are done add the bouillon cube and cook for another five minutes. Turn off the heat and add a dash or two of olive oil. It enhances the taste and adds smoothness to the sauce.
Put the beans in a blender and process until smooth. It should be thicker than soup but not quite as thick as a typical sauce. The pasta will soak up some of the liquid thickening it to perfection.
At the last moment, cook the pasta al dente in salt water. To a full serving of pasta add a cup of bean sauce. To smaller servings add proportionally less sauce. Since the pasta will absorb some of the sauce, the right combination is of some importance, neither too wet nor too dry. Mix well to make sure the pasta is evenly covered with sauce.
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