I have been patiently waiting for Rob to post our Colombia photos. I wanted to be able to share some of my photos and tips from the trip. The full albums from Bogota and Salento are here and the Lost City and Cartagena are here. I have included a few of my favourite photos, though.
We were in both hot and cold places, with big banana leaves and small mushrooms… and enjoyed a wonderful cooking class in Bogota.
This is my first Colombian meal I have prepared in my own kitchen- red beans with plantains. Although I will admit that I never came across this dish while in Colombia. Red beans, yes. Plantains, yes. Never together which is why I was intrigued to try out this recipe from Viva Vegan.
Who would have thought there would be even more beans that I do not yet have. I had to restrain myself from bringing home too many new beans from Colombia. I figured they may be more easily found once we move to the southern US, so I don’t have many Colombian bean souvenirs. The standard Colombian bean (that is not the coffee bean), is the bola roja. Another standard is the Cranberry bean (also known as Borlotti or Cargamanto), which I have cooked before. They are a bigger creamy bean although a bit dry. However, within my Rancho Gordo stash, I had Sangre de Toro beans which I used instead. Dense and almost chewy, they are Mexican beans that can be substituted for any recipe calling for red beans.
Here, the red beans are cooked with a sofrito of onions and red pepper, then spiced with smoked paprika, cumin and Mexican oregano. The plantain adds a hit of sweetness along with the red pepper sofrito. This recipe was more complex than what I learned at my cooking class, but I think I will also be revisiting my bona fide Colombian bean recipe, since it was so good. Next time, I will break out the bola roja beans!
Colombian-Style Red Beans with Plantains
Adapted from Viva Vegan
2 cups dried red beans, soaked in water overnight if possible (there are many Colombian-specific beans like bola roja or cranberry/cargamanto, but I used Sangre de Toro beans from Rancho Gordo)
5 cups water, with moer added if the beans dry up
1-2 tsp dried epazote (optional)
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped (2 cups chopped)
1 chopped red bell pepper, seeds, stems and ribs discarded (2 cups red bell pepper)
1/4 tsp salt
4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1.5 tsp sweet smoked paprika, to taste
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried Mexican oregano
1 green or ripe but still firm plantain, skinned and chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
1. Add soaked beans to a large pot with 5 cups of water. Add epazote and bay leaves. Bring the beans to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until the beans are soft, but not quite done. The time will vary depending on how large, dry, or old your beans are, and if you have pre-soaked them, from anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half (I didn’t actually presoak my beans and it took 2 hours to cook). You may need to add more water.
2. While the beans are cooking, sauté the onion and bell pepper in olive oil until soft, approximately 30-45 minutes. Sprinkle with a bit of salt. Add the garlic, smoked paprika, cumin, and oregano. Sauté until spices are fragrant. Add chopped plantain and cook until it becomes more yellow, around 5-10 minutes. Set aside until the beans are ready.
3. Fish out and discard the bay leaves from the pot of beans. Remove, but reserve, extra cooking liquid until there is no liquid above beans (around 2.5 cups of reserved water).
4. Add the onion mixture and salt to the pot of beans. Cook another 30 minutes or so until thickened and your desired consistency. Add reserved liquid if needed. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve with cooked rice.