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April 5, 2009

An Easy Lunch Idea: Tangy Black Bean Dip

Dried beans never get the respect they deserve. Humble earth-tones and understated packaging belie their versatility. Yawning with boredom in the bean aisle, too many people pass up this low fat, high fiber, economical protein. But as any vegetarian with a stew pot and a little creativity will tell you, a spectrum of tastes, textures, and colors means you never have to feel bored by beans. 

At my house, boiling up a pot of beans is a Sunday ritual. Two dollars' worth of dried beans will constitute the key ingredient for most meals during the week. Lately I've been on a chickpea kick, making a batch of hummus for lunches and snacks and using the rest in stew. 

This week's Bean of Honor is black beans. I've had a bag in the cupboard for months, but after they'd soaked all day, cooking them took less than an hour. I'll use them in veggie burgers, soup, and a chilled salad with mango and grains. For portable lunches, I whipped up this fresh, low fat dip that's great with chips and vegetables and also makes a hearty spread in sandwiches and wraps. Cilantro, lime, and jalapeno give it an unexpected zing. If you'd like it a little bit spicier, leave the seeds in the jalapeno.  

Tangy Black Bean Dip

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

2 cups cooked black beans

1 tomato, quartered

Juice of 1 lime

¼ cup cilantro, chopped

2 teaspoons cumin

½ teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Saute the onions for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and saute another 2 minutes. Add the jalapeno pepper and saute until everything is softened and just beginning to brown. 

Toss the contents of pan into a food processor with the rest of the ingredients and process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning. 

Makes about 2½ cups. 

Mary Lake is a writer, teacher, columnist for MF&L, and vegetarian blogger: Mitten Machen


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