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Technicolor tacos

When I am confronted with too many vegetables to come up with an easy, cohesive meal (and that is rather frequently), I tend towards the 'how much can I use in one recipe' solution. Tortillas in all of their glorious forms tend to help in this kind of situation.

You've got tostadas and tacos (though it's very hard to find tostadas without partially hydrogenated oils in them anymore - let me know if you do! Sadly, Whole Foods have stopped carrying the 'Bearitos' brand, which were pretty darn wholesome), and flour tortillas in various sizes and grains. You can jam them full of any sort of vegetable (or meat if you wish) and some beans and call it a meal.

This particular recipe is more of a method...a way to get lots of veggies into one place and then into your belly. I use whatever I have on hand at home that will go well together and cram it all into a tortilla and call it dinner. But really, it's better than that. It's a go-to meal that requires little forethought, just a fridge with some vegetables in it and whatever tinned beans you have on hand. It comes together to deliver a tasty meal that is nourishing.

Technicolor Tacos
Serves 2
4-6 tortillas (flour hold up better)
1/2 can tinned refried beans with green chiles
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 lb sturdy greens (I used beet greens, but chard, kale, collards, etc will work)
tomatoes, sliced
cabbage, sliced
tomatillos, diced
onions, sliced
peppers, sliced
radishes, diced
(or *any* combination of vegetables you have on hand that would take well to Mexican flavors)

Wash greens thoroughly. Heat 1 tsp oil in a large skillet. Add greens and cook over medium high heat until they wilt and drastically reduce in volume, about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Heat 1 tsp oil in the same skillet. Add onions and saute for 3 minutes over medium heat. Add peppers and saute a further 3-5 minutes until all veggies are soft.

Heat beans over a flame or in the microwave until bubbly. Heat tortillas in microwave (about 10-15 seconds). Put veggies in containers and let people assemble their own tacos as they see fit. Repeat as needed.

ALL of these ingredients are optional. Nearly any combination will work. Add some cheese on top if you wish. Or salsa. Or guac. Or sour cream. Do whatever you want and don't be limited by my suggestions above. It's an easy, no fuss way to get a healthy dinner on the table.

Bean and tomato salad with honey vinaigrette

Have I mentioned Rancho Gordo in any of my posts yet? Let me take that opportunity now. RANCHO. GORDO. They are an heirloom bean producer out of Northern California, and if you like beans, they deserve your attention.

They produce myriad beans, many of which you've never heard of, such as the Ayocote Morado beans in the photo above. One thing that is unique about their beans (aside from the diversity of their offerings) is that they are fresh. I know that isn't intuitive, as they are dried beans, but they are fresh in the sense that when you get them, they haven't been sitting in a warehouse for a year or two (or on a supermarket shelf for that length of time). They cook quicker and are, in my opinion, superior tasting to any other beans I've had. I've tried about 6 different varieties, and a testament to the love I have for all that I've tried is the 23 lb box of beans I currently await from the UPS guy.

I love beans. They are simple, hearty and nourishing. The are not at all a hassle to cook from scratch, and you can bubble up a good sized batch and freeze whatever you don't eat with pleasing results. They can be used a million different ways, and generally they cost next to nothing, somewhat fancy heirlooms aside. The dried beans in my local Whole Foods bulk bin start at $.99/lb.

You're starting to get the theme throughout recent postings that I have a LOT of tomato and basil plants, and that I get green beans from the farm nearly every week. Well, I don't like to eat them the same way every time, so I'm constantly scouring recipe books for ideas and inspiration. Fortunately, there seems to be no limit to the number of books I can check out from my local library, so the ideas keep coming.

I have found quite a few very inspiring recipes in the newest book from the folks at Eating Well. I've never subscribed to their magazine, but I need to rethink that, as every cookbook of theirs I own or have borrowed from the library has been particularly good. Their latest offering Eating Well In Season: The Farmer's Market Cookbook is fairly conducive to the produce that I receive from our local CSA each week.

This next recipe uses (Rancho Gordo!) dried beans, fresh green beans, tomatoes AND basil, so it's an ideal staple for the summer months!

Bean and tomato salad with honey vinaigrette
Adapted from Eating Well In Season
Serves 8 as a side dish

1 1/4 c dried beans, preferably heirloom (I used Ayocote Morado from Rancho Gordo)
Bay leaf or epazote
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c red onion, minced
1/4 c cider vinegar
4 tsp wildflower honey
1 tsp peanut or canola oil
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 lb green beans, trimmed and cut into 2 in. pieces
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 lb medium or large mixed tomatoes, multiple colors, chopped
1/2 c fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

Pick over dried beans for stones or debris, rinse them, then place in a stockpot, cover with 3 inches of water and soak at room temperature for 2 hours or up to overnight.

Bring beans and bay leaf/epazote to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Partially cover and simmer very gently until tender, 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on the age and freshness of your beans. Check the level of the liquid regularly. If it drops below the beans, add one cup (or more as needed) hot water. When the beans are tender, remove from heat and drain.

Combine the beans, the salt, onion, vinegar, honey, oil and pepper in a large bowl. Stir, cover and refrigerate to marinate for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Cook green beans in a large pot of boiling water until crisp-tender, 3-5 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again. Pat dry and add to the marinated beans. Stir in tomatoes and basil. Taste seasoning and adjust as necessary.

**Note: I often cook more dried beans than called for then freeze the extra in some of the pot liquor when done so that I can grab them on a day I don't want to cook. They freeze beautifully.

Another pollenation image for you...


A little bread never hurt anyone. Heck, even a little white bread never hurt anyone...however there's never a LITTLE bit of bread around this house. It's either all or nothing.

That's how I ended up making panzanella a few days ago with (hard to believe) leftover baguette and the freshest ingredients on earth, plucked from my back garden just before assembling the salad.

This salad takes very little time to assemble. Just a bit of chopping and perhaps toasting (or grilling?) if your bread isn't stale enough. You could omit the green beans and substitute something else if you didn't want to go to the trouble of filling a pot to blanch them. Any way you look at it, it's an easy, no heat, low fuss dinner.

Serves 4

Pint (or more) cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 or 2 large heirloom tomatoes, chopped into bite sized pieces
8 oz green beans, blanched
3/4 c fresh mozzarella, cubed
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 day old baguette, white or whole grain, toasted or grilled if not dried out
1 garlic clove
1 medium cucumber, seeded, quartered and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 c very thinly sliced red onion
1/4 c (or more) thinly sliced basil
Basil flowers, for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste

Halve garlic clove. Rub cut side of garlic on toasted bread. Cut bread into bite sized chunks. Set aside.

Combine vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl or a jar. Drizzle in oil and whisk or add oil, put a lid on the jar and shake vigorously.

Put tomatoes, cucumber, onion bread and basil in a large bowl. Drizzle dressing over and toss well to combine. Divide among four plates and garnish with basil flowers.

Did I mention that we had garlic bread as a side? Like I said...it's all or nothing...