While I was shopping at Whole Foods the other day, I came across a brand of pasta made from black beans. Curious, I turned the pack over to read the ingredients list – something I always do when checking out a new product. To my positive surprise, the two only ingredients were black beans and water: perfect! I got very excited, bought them, and tried them right away.
You may ask why I was being so enthusiastic? For starters, there were no additives like colors, flavors, preservatives, or other undesirable substances present. But at least as importantly, black beans are gluten-free! And even though I do not think I am gluten sensitive, I believe it is prudent to pay attention to your gluten intake.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat and related grains, such as durum, spelt, kamut, barley, rye and triticale. It is a bit of a “magic” product needed to make delicious breads: the flours used in bread production are high gluten flours, giving the bread its unique chewy texture. In pastries, flours with a lower gluten content are used, because a more tender texture is wanted.
There is quite a lot of information on gluten, gluten intolerance, and allergic reactions to gluten (see e.g. wikipedia or whfoods). I personally have the impression that the number of people claiming gluten sensitivity is exploding, at least in the western urban environment I live. In my opinion, there are two reasons for this phenomenon. First, wheat is a hidden product in many processed foods, and consumption of these have been on the rise over the last decades. Second, the gluten content in today’s cultivated wheat is probably much higher than it used to be, i.e. modern wheat is being bred to contain higher and higher gluten content (see here for an article discussing this).
Thankfully, gluten free products are becoming more and more prevalent. Just the other day I came across this article posted on Science Daily about Brazilian researchers that developed pasta made out of green banana flour. Other gluten-free pastas are also available, e.g. based on mung, soy, quinoa, or rice. This means you can continue to enjoy recipes containing pasta, but without the gluten. Of course, having the flour as opposed to the whole bean means that it won’t have the same nutritional value, but it is hard to put numbers on that.
Back to my discovery of black bean pasta. When I got home I simply put them into boiling water for 6-8 minutes, diced a few vegetables, and then sauteed everything together with some seasoning – it made for a fast and delicious lunch. The recipe forthwith is based on this impromptu cooking.
Black Bean Noodle Stir Fry
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- ~15oz (400g) fresh snap peas with shell, shelled to yield approx. 5½ oz or 160g peas (use frozen if not available fresh)
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon fennel seeds, ground
- ¼ cup (20g) sundried tomatos, soaked at least ½ hour in warm water, chopped into small pieces
- 2 tablespoons mirin (rice wine, essential condiment in japanese cuisine)
- 3.5oz (100g) black bean noodles (dry weight), cooked
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ tablespoon namashoyu or tamari soy sauce
- 1 medium tomato, diced
- ½ cup strained tomatos (plain)
- In a pan, heat the coconut oil, then add the shelled peas with a pinch of salt. Sauté for 3-4 minutes on medium heat until their skin starts to shrivel.
- Add the cumin and ground fennel seeds, continue to cook for a few more minutes on low heat until peas become tender. Add sundried tomatos and cook for another two minutes, back on medium heat.
- Add mirin, cook one minute until the mirin is almost absorbed, and then add the noodles, turmeric and salt. Allow the noodles to warm up before the next step.
- Add the soy sauce and the diced tomatos. Continue cooking until tomatos soften a little bit.
- At the end stir in the strained tomatos, allow everything to heat up once more, adjust seasoning with salt if necessary, and serve immediately.