Grilled Salsa & Black Bean Pasta

I love pasta! Let me just get that right out there. Hands-down pasta is one of the easiest components of a quick, nutritious and satisfying meal. With all the whole grain options now available it's a lot easier to make pasta part of a well-balanced lunch or dinner... or even breakfast!

I've been experimenting with all varieties of whole grain pastas. My family has come to love them as much as I do. Whole grain selections used to be limited to whole wheat rotini and penne. That's it, and maybe some brown rice pasta or whole wheat spaghetti if I felt like taking a walk on the wild side. Now the selections have expanded incredibly! And if you shop online... holy moley! You can eat just about any shape imaginable made from a variety of whole grains, seeds and even legumes!

So when my teenage son, who also eats a plant-based diet [he was actually the first person in our family to start eating a whole foods plant-based diet, but that's another story], spotted this black bean sedani and wanted to try it, I was all over it. One 3.5oz serving delivers 21g of protein, 62g of carbs, 17g of fiber, 2g of sugar, 2.5g of fat, 15% RDA of calcium and 45% RDA of iron (based on a 2,000 calorie diet). Then I looked at the ingredients. Only one: black bean flour.

Hmmm. I love black beans. So this is going to be fantastic, right?!

I'm keen on stretching out the end of summer as much as possible. When you live this far north you cherish every hour of September warmth remaining. I decided to replicate my favorite black bean salsa, replacing the black beans for the black bean sedani.

Spark up the grill! I'm a big fan of using what I have on hand and making it work just as well. I generally like grilled sweet corn in my black bean salsa, but this was an unplanned meal and corn was not available. No worries! Plenty of other veg to put of the grill.

This box is conveniently broken into two different serving sizes: 3.5oz, which would give you three hardy servings per box, or 2 oz, which would give you 5 servings per box. With all the add-ins I'm about to suggest, you will easily get 5-6 servings per box.

Total Time: 40-45 minutes (excluding time to start the grill) Prep Time:15 min. Cook Time: 10 min. Grill Time: ~25 min.

Here's what you need for 6 servings:

1 box black bean sedani

1 large yellow or white onion

1 fresh whole pineapple

2 large bell peppers, any color

2 jalapenos (optional)

2 cups diced fresh tomatoes (I used red and yellow grape tomatoes)

1 large or 2 small limes

1 small bunch cilantro (optional)

1 small bunch chives (about 2 Tbsp chopped)

1 tsp smoked salt (or regular sea salt) plus 2 tsp iodized salt for the pasta water & 1/2 tsp for the grilled veg.

1/2 tsp cracked black

pepper

1/2 tsp ground cumin, or more if you love cumin! (optional)

2 Tsp olive oil (optional)

Process:

1. Start the grill.

2. Peel, slice and core the pineapple. Not sure how to do that? Here's a video to watch. Keep the pineapple in rings though.

3. Peel and slice the onion into 1/4" rounds keeping the rings in tact.

4. Wash & dry the peppers, cut in half or quarters. Remove seeds and white veins.

5. Drizzle the vegetables with 1 Tbsp of the olive oil, lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper. Alternatively, you can skip this and just spray the grill (still experimenting with using no oil)

6. Put 3 qts of water on the stove to boil.

7. While waiting for the water to boil, grill the pineapple and vegetables.

8. Allow the vegetables to cool slightly.

9. While waiting, cook the paste. When the water comes to a boil add 2 tsp. of iodized salt. Cook the pasta for 10-12 minutes. Test it for doneness before draining. I found it needed more time than what was stated on the package.

10. While the pasta is cooking, chop the tomatoes. If using grape or cherry tomatoes, just cut them in half.

11. Chop the cilantro and chives.

12. Dice the grilled pineapple (you will only need about 1 cup), onion, and peppers.

13. Drain the pasta and add the other tsp. of olive oil (if using) and smoked salt. Zest and squeeze the limes onto the pasta. Add cumin (if using).

This busy bumblebee is happily pollinating my cilantro that recently bloomed. When cilantro first starts to bloom, most often you can still enjoy the great flavor and use the flowers too. Just cut about the top 1/3 of the stems (flowers and all), remove any tough or woody stems and chop the soft leaves, stems and flowers. To me, flowering cilantro tastes a bit stronger than just the leaves, so you may want to use less.

Here's what it looks like chopped. I used about 2 tbsp for this dish.

14. Add the diced grilled veg, pineapple, tomatoes and half of the chopped cilantro and chives. Gently toss everything together. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

15. Scoop onto a serving platter or individual bowls or plates. Sprinkle the remaining cilantro and chives over top.

Additional Options:

Add avacado slices as a garnish

Add 1 cup (about 2 large ears) grilled corn cut off the cob

Add 1 15 oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

Add 1 cup chopped fresh mango

Add 1 cup diced grilled tofu

Add 1 cup fresh or frozen edamame

Add 2 cups chopped fresh spinach

The verdict: I did not LOVE it, the pasta that is. It does not have the same texture as whole grain pasta. It remained rather firm and is a bit chalky. I'm willing to make it again and boil it a bit longer than the package directions, or try one of the other varieties of black bean pasta. The spaghetti might work. The nutrition profile is worth further experimentation. I also abhor overcooked pasta and will err on the cook less side, which could have added to the outcome. Further experimentation for sure!

And the grilled salsa... outstanding! After an honest go, we picked around the tubes of pasta and ate all the salsa. Delicious!

Perhaps you've had a different experience with black bean pasta. I'd love to hear about it. If you make this dish, let me know how it turned out. Be sure to take a photo and tag me #chefcatherinebrown. I love seeing what you make!

UPDATE: I tried this same dish again using the blabk bean sedani, this time cooking the pasta about two minutes longer. The result was much improved. I'm going to experiment again using this type of pasta in a plant-based chili recipe where the pasta will actually cook in the sauce as the chili is simmering. I suspect this will be the best application yet. Stay tuned!

Disclosures: None. This post was not created in affiliation with any product or brand. The opinions expressed are my own. I will only write about products that I trust and use.

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CatherineeBrown@hotmail.com  603-237-1012  PO Box 253 Errol, NH 03579