Week Seven – Navy Beans and Steel Cut Oats (and some rice for good measure)

After a Thanksgiving week full of fattening, but delicious foods, I was ready to get back on the beans and grains bandwagon. On Sunday I cooked a half pound of navy beans and a pot of steel cut oats. I also made a pot of rice that we could use for dinners. I just couldn’t see us eating oatmeal any other time than breakfast.

As I was getting my navy beans ready to cook, I started wondering how they are different from great northern beans, which I cooked a few weeks back. Navy beans are a little bit smaller and I think they hold together better when they are cooked. As far as their flavor, they are quite similar. I think they could be easily interchanged in recipes.

Great Northern Beans (left); Navy Beans (right)

I cooked a pot of McCann’s Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal.

I used Martha Stewart’s overnight method. To have my oatmeal ready on Monday morning, I started on Sunday night. I brought two and a half cups of water to a boil. I added 2/3 cup of steel cut oats (not the quick cooking kind). Gave that a stir, let it cool and then stuck it in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, I put the pot back on the stove, brought it to a boil and simmered for about 12 minutes.  Martha Stewart calls that two servings. I call it three.


A Pot of Steel Cut Oats


I also made a pot of rice. I used Ming Tsai’s brown and white rice mix. I soaked a cup of brown rice in water for a couple of hours, then drain. Mix the soaked brown rice with a cup of white rice, and three cups of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat. Cover and cook for 20 minutes.

So we had a whole lot of beans and grains on hand to start the week. Get busy eating!

Day One- Senate Bean Soup. This famous soup  is served every day in the US Congressional dining area. That is a tradition that dates back to the early 20th century. The recipe and the beans vary. But the traditionally, they use navy beans. I used the recipe found in the Joy of Cooking.  You can find lots of recipes online as well.  I used about 2 cups of cooked beans and all of the bean broth. I added some finely diced celery and onion, a bay leaf, a little bit of smoked paprika, and a cup of diced potatoes. I had some little Yukon Gold potatoes on hand, butI think Russet Potatoes are more traditional. I cooked this in my small crock pot. I added some water to the mixture as well. I cooked all this until the potatoes were not just tender, but falling apart. I put about half of the soup into the blender and pureed it (Be careful with hot soup in a blender!). I  added the pureed soup back to the pot.


Senate Bean Soup


This was really good. I have never cooked this before because the recipe calls for a ham hock. I was afraid that without the ham this soup wouldn’t have much going for it. But it was great. The paprika added a nice color and a smoky flavor. I served the soup with salad and a loaf of homemade bread.  Husband and I both loved this.

Day Two, Three and Four – Oatmeal for Breakfast. My partially prepared oatmeal had been sitting in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning I finished the preparation and had a nice bowl of oatmeal. I added some vanilla almond milk to it. And topped that off with chopped dried apricots, banana and some slivered almonds. I used agave syrup as a sweetner. But honey or brown sugar would have been every bit as good.

I had plenty of oatmeal for three breakfasts. I tried to change up the toppings each day so that I would have some variety. I found a link to a segment Mark Bittman did on the Today Show called “Five Ways to Jazz Up Your Oatmeal“.  Following his advice, on the second oatmeal morning, I added peanut butter and bananas to my bowl of steel cut oats.  And the next day I added coconut and raisins. I was sorry when my oatmeal was all gone! Oatmeal is a nice way to start the day.

One last thought about oatmeal. I found several websites that sang the praises of savory oatmeal. You could eat savory oatmeal for breakfast or for any other meal of the day. I was interested in that idea, but most of the recipes called for cheese, bacon, an over-easy egg, or some combination of those things. Runny eggs turn me off. But I am interested in the savory oatmeal idea. I just need a little more time to wrap my head around it. Check out this website for some savory oatmeal ideas and some gorgeous photos.

Day Three – Stir Fry and Fried Rice. I wanted a nice stir fry for dinner and Husband wanted fried rice. I am sure that you have noticed that Husband and I often eat different dinners. We have been doing that for years and it is a result of our different diets and preferences. He eats fish and fowl. And I don’t. There are many nights when we each cook up a separate meal. But we always cook together. And we always sit down and eat together. It works for us.

Anyway, on Day Three, I cooked for both of us. Our meals were similar enough that it was easy for me to do. I stir fried broccoli, mushrooms, onions, carrots, sugar snap peas. When the vegetables were crisp tender, I added some pineapple chunks to the wok. I made a quick sauce of soy sauce, juice from the pineapple and some chili paste.

For the fried rice I used the same vegetables but cut them up a little smaller. Stir fried those, added a couple of cups of cold cooked rice to the pan. Stir fried that a bit. Then created a well in the middle of the rice and added a beaten egg. When the egg had set up, I stirred it into the other ingredients. I seasoned all that with soy sauce and topped it with some cilantro and chopped peanuts. Husband added some chopped up, left over turkey to his fried rice.

Day Four – Three Bean Salad. Husband had a turkey burger for dinner and I had a veggie burger. We made some oven fried potatoes. And I put together a nice three bean salad using the cooked navy beans. I used a cup of navy beans and about a half cup each of canned green beans and canned kidney beans.  I added chopped red onion and celery. I made a dressing for the salad with olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard and a little bit of honey for sweetness. The beans and dressing marinated together for about an hour in the refrigerator. A very nice side dish.

Day Five – White Bean Spread with Pita Chips. This is a recipe that I got from a cookbook written by Heidi Swanson. It’s a great book with lots of recipes for beans and grains. The book is called Super Natural Every Day.

I put to tablespoons of good olive oil in a small saucepan. I added a garlic clove, cut in half and a sprig of fresh rosemary. Rosemary grows like a weed in South Texas. I have several plants growing in my front yard.  Heat the olive oil to infuse it with the garlic and rosemary. Remove the garlic clove and the rosemary stem.

In my food processor I combined a cup of drained navy beans, about 2/3 of the infused olive oil, a healthy squeeze of lemon, a small handful of slivered almonds.  Process that to a smooth consistency. You may need to add a little bit of water to get it just right.

Put the dip in a small serving dish. Top with remaining oil and some slivered almonds. Serve with pita chips. It was a great afternoon snack. I only wish that I had made it earlier in the week so that I could have been snacking on it all along.

Day Six – Cauliflower Biryani. Biryani is an South Asian rice dish. I am certain that I didn’t make a traditional biryani. But that’s what I am calling it. I sliced up some cauliflower, sprayed it with olive oil and put it in a hot oven to roast for about 12 minutes. Meanwhile I browned some onions in a skillet. Then added some chopped tomato and chopped cilantro to the skillet. When the tomatoes were softened I added a little bit of curry powder and let the spices bloom for a minute or so. I added some of my navy beans and some kidney beans as well.  I added the roasted cauliflower and a cup of rice. This was a very nice lunch dish. If I had had some chutney it would have been perfect!

My so-called biryani served in a tiffin dish

Post Mortem on the Navy Beans and Steel Cut Oats – I am going to start making those steel cut oats every week! It is a great breakfast. And as we learned from Mark Bittman, it can be dolled up in lots of different ways. The Senate Bean Soup was delicious. Next time I will make a bigger batch so that I can have leftovers. The navy beans were easy to cook.  They are mild tasting so they are extremely versatile. I also had a pot of rice. Because I limited my oatmeal to breakfast…that seemed to be a nice addition. This was a great bean and grain week.

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