Beans, Beans Good for Your Heart

I can’t help it. I still think of that silly rhyme every time I think about beans. Juvenile, I know, but there you have it. So did you guess tonight’s meal features beans?

Miss A is our culinary guide for the next two weeks. She made her international choice after studying (and spinning) the globe for a bit; and much like her first pick, she’s taking us back to South America. This time, however, we’re on the Western coast in the country of Ecuador.

Unlike some of our international picks, finding recipes for regional dishes from the “Republic of the Equator” wasn’t terribly difficult. We adapted tonight’s selectionsΒ from Laylita’s Recipes, a blog featuring recipes from South America and Ecuador among others. So to kick off our adventure we chose Menestra de Porotos, or Ecuadorian Bean Stew. It just seemed fitting for our unseasonably cool (and gloomy) weather today.

The boys kicked off the meal for us. Mr. N measured out all the spices and Mike took care of the chopping.

We used whole cumin seeds, ground cumin, chili powder and achiote powder for our seasonings.

We also minced some garlic, chopped tomatoes and red onion.

We first heated some oil in a large stock pot, added the onion and garlic and cooked those for a few minutes. Then Miss A added our spices and tomatoes.

After about five minutes we added water to the pot and brought it to a boil. We then dumped the pinto beans (which had soaked overnight in cold water) into the boiling stock.

We brought the stew back up to a simmer which we maintained for the next two hours.

As we approached dinner time we also prepared an Ecuadorian White Rice. It’s basically white rice, but with a twist. We started by heating some olive oil, white onion and garlic in a medium sauce pan.

We then used 2 cups of long-grain rice and 2-1/4 cups of water.

First we incorporated the rice into the oil, onion and garlic.

Next we added the water and brought the rice to a boil. Once the water just covered the rice, we reduced the heat, covered and cooked it for a final 20 minutes.

Then we swept up rice grains from the entire kitchen after Miss A knocked over the bag, vacuumed the family room where Mr. N had accidentally shattered a glass on the base of the fireplace and finally served our dinner with just enough time for Mike to eat and run. (Broomball season has kicked off yet again.) Whew!

Good thing we were able to dig into some comfort food! We served the bean stew with the rice and a fresh loaf of bread. Mr. N and Mike were the biggest fans of this dish. While they both thought it needed more salt, not a drop was left in their dishes. Mr. N gave the Menestra de Porotos 3 spoons after asking for, and devouring, seconds. Mike came in at 2-1/2 spoons due to the lack of salt, but is looking forward to taking leftovers for lunch this week.

I am not a bean lover. As my mom can attest, I never enjoyed beans and only ate as many as I “had” to to be excused from dinner. I haven’t changed too much since then; although I do enjoy black beans in certain recipes. It’s the same story with most soups and certainly stews. So as you can imagine I was not looking forward to this meal, but I have to say, I was surprised. The dish reminded me of the flavors found in Mexican rice and it was actually pretty good. While it’s not a dish I’d pick at a restaurant, or make again (unless it’s for my boys) I did enjoy it. It was a pleasant way to eat beans (and that’s not something I’d say lightly) making it a 2 spoon dish for me.

Miss A, however, was not impressed. She tried a few beans and set the dish aside. I wouldn’t be surprised except for the fact that she’s our resident bean lover. Go figure. Overall, we were happy with our first Ecuadorian recipe. I just wish the clean-up was as easy as cooking the stew!

Print this recipe: Menestra de Porotos

52 thoughts on “Beans, Beans Good for Your Heart

    • Kristy says:

      Thanks Tori! As you know we learn so much about cultures through foods and traditions. I want more than anything for my kids to know the world beyond our own immediate community. πŸ™‚

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  1. Caroline says:

    I instantly started singing that rhyme when I started reading as well. Just instinct I guess. πŸ™‚ Miss A picked a great cuisine…this dish looks so delicious. I’m not always a huge rice and beans fan, but this I would most definitely eat! The photo of Mr. N and Mike is adorable. Teamwork!

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  2. A_Boleyn says:

    Beans are peasant food and so, on the family farm in Yugoslavia where my mom and dad grew up, it was a dish that was made on a regular basis. Since my mom’s parents raised pigs, in the fall they killed the pigs and butchered them to make smoked ham, sausage and pork hocks. The latter were added to the bean soup and gave it a rich meaty flavour. When extra farm hands were hired for the harvest, you were lucky to get any morsel of actual pork in your bowl and if you did, you savoured every bite. πŸ™‚

    There are a couple of very traditional bean dishes served just around Christmas that I still make in celebration of the holiday since my mom is no longer able to make them. They’re not quite as good as hers but I’m still working on them.

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    • Kristy says:

      That is a very cool story! I love family histories…they are so interesting. I’m sure you’ll master your mom’s recipe and I’m sure that she appreciates you carrying on the recipes. πŸ™‚

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  3. Erin Renee says:

    Don’t you love it when a recipe calls for you to mix rice in with oil and some sort of veggie before adding water? I love the way the rice acts in the pan and sticks to the wooden spoon.

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  4. spicegirlfla says:

    I love love beans so this would certainly be one I’d make. I only wish I had those little hands to help out and spill a few things along the way. One day, I promise you, you will miss those moments dearly.

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    • Kristy says:

      I have no doubt that I will miss these messes one of these days. πŸ˜‰ And I know I’ll miss these little hands. Some of my favorite shots on this blog are just of their little hands cooking.

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    • Kristy says:

      You’re not kidding! It was quite the mess. I should have known better than to leave an open bag of rice lying around. Miss A loves to get her hands on everything! I will say though that the kids actually helped me clean-up last night. I was so thankful (and shocked!) for that.

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  5. Eva says:

    Hi Kristy,
    What a lovely meal, we do love eating beans (and I love that rhyme too!) as a break from eating meat. I am eager to find the achiote powder and try it. I love all sorts of chili peppers, and this one sounds exotic.
    It’s really great how you involve the kids in the kitchen. My mom did that with my bother and I too, and we both thoroughly enjoy cooking!

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    • Kristy says:

      We found the achiote powder in a local grocery store. Most of the grocery stores here have a wide selection of Hispanic foods and spices – it’s wonderful! πŸ™‚ And Miss A just told me today that she wishes she could grow-up to be a chef. I told her she sure could. I’m guessing that won’t last though. Last week she wanted to be a school bus driver…and the week before that a firefighter. LOL!

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  6. ChgoJohn says:

    Poor Miss A. She selected the country, helped prepare its food, and didn’t care for the outcome. I give her credit for trying it, though. Many children won’t go near a plate of beans.

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    • Kristy says:

      That’s what was so funny John…Miss A normally is the only one in our house to really enjoy beans. She usually eats them up and asks for more. I’m not really sure what turned her off of this dish. It’s hard to get a review from a 3-year old. LOL. And not to worry, she enjoyed her side dish which we’ll share tomorrow. πŸ™‚

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  7. Kelly says:

    Broomball, eh? some good ol’ fashion Canadian fun… hopefully Mike wasn’t feeling too bean happy cruising up and down the ice (speaking of immature…). I love beans but my husband is constantly poking fun and, well, making juvenile cracks. He’s come a long way, but clearly there is still work to be done πŸ™‚ I would devour this delicious meal – it has some of my very favourite elements – warm tomato, awesome spices (cumin and chili = delish), onion and garlic… oh my, what’s not to like!? Perfect with the rice on top too making the dish a complete protein for vegetarians.

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  8. Charles says:

    Oh God, Ecuador – now you’ve got me thinking of this horrendous song – thanks a lot, Kristy :p ….. can’t…. stop…. watching cheesy video!

    Achiote powder sounds interesting – is it anything like ground paprika? For the stew though – it looks wonderful. I just adore beans of all shapes and sizes, so this is just the sort of thing I’d love. I’ve had similar things before – meatless chilli and so forth – but never a specifically Ecuadorean treat – something to try next time, thanks! (Love the photos too, especially the last one – very colourful!)

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    • Kristy says:

      Bwa! Ha! Ha! OMG Charles! This video is awesome! So, so, so cheesy! LOL! I can’t stop laughing (or watching for that matter!). I totally feel like shouting “Ecuador” all day now. πŸ˜‰

      Achiote powder is similar to paprika. It has a slightly different flavoring, but to me it’s very subtle. As for the photos – thanks! I took my photography class last week and I actually shot this bunch in full manual mode. πŸ™‚ I’m practicing as much as I can.

      Ecuador!! πŸ˜‰

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    • Kristy says:

      Thanks Geni! Actually I think if we were to make it again we’d up the flavor a bit. We definitely need to add more salt next time. We also kept the chili powder at a 1/2 T for the kids’ sake, but I think it could have withstood a whole tablespoon.

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  9. Kay aka Babygirl says:

    I’m like you, I’m not a bean or pees lover at all. I would only eat a little my mom made me eat, then run away from the table lol. But I have discovered I like dried beans (sometimes in tex mex rolls) better than wet beans. And have you noticed, Mr. N and ChefDad have the same intensity in the kitchen.. just look at those faces lol. And don’t ever let me come for a visit and go to a Broomball game. I might embarrass ChefDad though. I’d certainly make signs and probably be the loudest LOL.

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    • Kristy says:

      Oh don’t even get me started on peas. I still can’t handle those things. πŸ˜‰ It was the same at our table. Our rule was that we had to eat as many as our age. Didn’t make aging any more fun. LOL. And you’re right – Mr.N and Mike do have a very similar intensity in the kitchen (similar way of misplacing things too – lol!). You’d definitely be more than welcome to join us at a broomball game. They’d appreciate having a fan or two. πŸ˜‰

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  10. A_Boleyn says:

    I had no idea you were cooking food from Ecuador from the hint you gave but, as a lover of all kinds of dried bean dishes, I approve of you rstart.

    By the way, the version of that song I learned as a kid was:
    Beans, beans, the musical fruit,
    The more you eat, the more you toot. πŸ™‚

    I’m looking forward to the other dishes you chose.

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    • Kristy says:

      Oh! Another great version of that song. I love it. πŸ˜‰ This was my first time making dried beans before. I’m certainly going to do it again. This recipe has given me hope that I may yet find a bean dish I enjoy eating.

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          • A_Boleyn says:

            You mean split pea soup? I love both the yellow and green split pea soups with smoked pork hocks or ham. They’re classic French Canadian dishes. πŸ™‚ I think they’re the new world adaptations of the French green lentil soup Lentilles du Puy.

            This recipe is similar to what I do. I don’t actually HAVE a recipe for split pea soup but should really write it down one day.

            http://frenchkitcheninamerica.blogspot.com/2006/11/split-pea-soup-for-cold-day.html

            It’s strange … I don’t like FRESH beans (ie yellow, green, lima) but love dried beans. But I DO like both fresh and dried peas.

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            • Kristy says:

              Yep – that’s the soup! My grandpa loves it. Me, not so much. I think I’m finding the same thing as you – I still don’t like fresh beans, but dried beans are growing on me. Peas…may not ever grow on me. πŸ˜‰

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