Cathy’s Kitchen Prescription LLC
Puerto Rican Pink Beans
with Green Banana Dumplings
Habichuelas Rosadas con
Bolitas de Guineos Verdes
Prep time 2 hours Cook time 1 hour Serves 4-6
I confess. I’m a restless, adventurous eater. I love exploring different ethnic foods and adapting them to be no-oil, plant-based. When my friend Alida, described a favorite family tradition involving beans and dumplings, I knew I had to try it. This hearty, flavor-filled stew isn’t spicy like some chilis. Typically, it is served as a soup. I made it denser, like a stew, but you can dilute it as you please. I bumped up the fabulous flavoring from the recaito or sofrito, the blend of raw minced onion, garlic, peppers and herbs that are central to many Puerto Rican and other regional Latin American dishes, sidestepped the oil and pork and tweaked it to be full-flavored and plant-based. The result is a splendid supper, relying on few ingredients yet bursting with flavor, fun to eat, loaded with health-promoting fiber and resistant starch, thanks to the dumplings, and manna from heaven to our friendly gut microbes. Hope you enjoy it too!
Recaito (Puerto Rican Sofrito )
3 cups Spanish onion, large dice
1/3 cup garlic, minced
2 green peppers, seeded, large dice
1 red pepper, seeded, large dice
2 cubanelle peppers, seeded, large dice
6 aji dulce peppers, found in Latin groceries, seeded, quartered
Nice handful of cilantro
Nice handful of culantro (a.k.a. recao), found in Latin groceries
1 pound pink beans, found online or in the Latino aisle of your grocery, soaked then cooked
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
2 ½ cups Spanish onion, medium dice
Veggie broth, no sodium, to deglaze pan
2 cups carrot, medium dice
2 cups celery root, medium dice
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 cup recaito
28 oz tomato purée, crushed tomatoes or passata
2 teaspoons freshly ground achiote seeds (a.k.a. annatto), found in Latin groceries
1 teaspoon liquid smoke, or to taste
¼ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
Salt, to taste (optional)
4 green bananas, peeled, grated or blended, found in Latin groceries
1 Tablespoon cilantro, minced
1 Tablespoon culantro, minced
1 teaspoon ground achiote seeds
Big pinch salt (optional)
Big pinch black pepper, freshly ground
Prep beans: Rinse and soak beans for 8 hours or overnight. Drain. In a pot add beans, cover with water 3 inches above beans, add bay leaves and garlic. Simmer on low flame until tender but intact. Discard the bay leaf and garlic. Set aside.
Make recaito: Pulse onions in a food processor until fine and uniform. Transfer to a bowl. Process the remaining sofrito ingredients similarly, in batches, given the size of your food processor. Add to bowl and mix thoroughly. Reserve 1 full cup of sofrito. Freeze the remainder for future use in 1 cup or ½ cup containers.
Make stew: In a hot large skillet dry sauté the onion for 3 minutes, stirring, until they soften and begin to adhere. Deglaze with a few tablespoons of broth. Add oregano, garlic, carrot, celery root, and ½ of the sofrito, stirring. Sauté for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and beans and as much of its cooking water as you like to make a stew or a soup. Cook for 5 minutes. Season with achiote, liquid smoke, salt (if using) and pepper to taste. Add the remaining sofrito and simmer on very low as you prepare the dumplings.
Make the dumplings: Peel bananas by slicing off the tops and bottoms and making several slits through the peel along its length. Then break off the stiff peel. Spare your knuckles from grating by hand by throwing the peeled bananas into a blender or food processor and run until smooth and gloopy. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the other dumpling ingredients.
Cooking the dumplings: With your soup/stew gently simmering, add spoonfuls of the dumpling batter on top, distributing them evenly across the surface of your skillet. Cover and cook for 20-30 minutes or until they are firm and cooked through.
Plating: In heated rimmed soup bowls or plates serve the beans and top with 2-3 dumplings. Garnish with a sprinkle of minced cilantro and culantro or with a dollop of the recaito.
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