January 28, 2011

on thinking, then acting

After plenty of prodding from plenty of people, I ordered the Desert Island Sampler from Rancho Gordo. My heirloom beans arrived in all their glory this week, and even I was shocked at my level of excitement for cooking dry beans when I got home Tuesday night.

First up? The Rio Zape beans, which (according to their package) had hints of coffee and chocolate. While mulling over what to cook them with, I perused Rancho Gordo's bean-cooking instructions. "Cover with water, broth, or beer..." Wait—notes of coffee in the beans? Wouldn't you know, I had two Real Ale Coffee Porters in the fridge! (Best. Beer. Ever.) Dare I use our most precious beer to stew beans? Since I've seen it bottled and on tap at many of our favorite spots lately, I opted to use half a beer for the beans. The other half? For the cook, of course.
So the other revelation (beer + beans being the first) I had that night was to roast my two favorite vegetables together. After my cousins cooked dinner for us (Amy made awesome butternut squash risotto and Callie brought this incredible salad, complete with roasted broccoli and lemon-poppyseed dressing), it dawned on me that maybe, just maybe, I could combine the two.

Without so much as an effort to Google whether it had been done before, I immediately chopped up the squash and threw it in a baking dish. The broccoli followed, and 40 minutes later I was mmm-ing my way through dinner. The beans turned out great; they weren't as different from pinto beans as I was expecting, but they were indeed quite tasty. I thought the real easy weeknight show-stopper was the vegetable side. I'm biased, since these are my favorite veggies, but.... It's still darn delicious. And it's gorgeous. The greens and the golds and the flakes of bright red—just lovely.

Spicy Roasted Butternut and Broccoli
1 pound broccoli florets, fresh or frozen
1 pound butternut squash, peeled and cubed
2 tablespoons EVOO
salt and pepper to taste
crushed red pepper flakes, to taste

Preheat the oven to 425. Chop up the veggies and toss in a baking dish. Mix evenly with EVOO and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add about 1/2 teaspoon (or more, or less) crushed red pepper flakes. Give it all one more good stir and plop that baby in the oven.

Roast for 30-40 minutes, or until broccoli is slightly crisped and browned on the tips and butternut is fork-tender (or even softer).