Here's hoping the rainstorm clears out so I can enjoy the longest day of the year by staying outside until the sun goes down. Summer is officially here, though I feel like I've been enjoying it for a good month now. I've been embarking on weekly adventures, usually via bicycle, with friends. Last Friday, we ended up looking out on the city from atop this abandoned railroad bridge that spans the Missouri River. Downtown was lit up and airplanes landed overhead while we sipped a PBR. Life isn't always that good.
Saturday, Amanda and I threw a summer potluck. We pushed the table back and welcomed scads of food to the buffet. I made way too much of this chipotle white bean dish, and now our fridge is as packed with food as our apartment was with people. I didn't get to try all the food because I was full by 8:15 (when only two people were at our house). Sean brought kimbab and homemade kimchi (which was never opened), the Wagenknechts brought a couscous salad and a summer cocktail. There were blueberry brownies, and Adam's cookies weren't gone by the end of the party, but they are now. Amanda threw together a lemony pasta. We had a variety of dips, crackers and beer. A summer storm brewed overhead, and friends talked, ate and played music until nearly 2 a.m.
In making the chipotle beans, I got to try out a few new things: making dried beans, cooking with queso fresca and using adobo sauce. I was a little nervous about the dried beans; Amanda said they take forever to cook. These great northerns were actually fine, and if I ever have the foresight to presoak some beans again, I would. Queso fresca is amazing. I've had it before in Latino soups before but had never bought it plain. It's like feta but creamier and less salty. I used it in three recipes this weekend--this may be the summer of Mexican. I bought canned chipotle peppers for this recipe and ended up using those beauts in an egg cassarole (with queso fresca obviously). Good.
Chipotle White Beans: from 101 Cookbooks
1 pound white beans
1 bunch kale, chopped
1 large clove garlic, diced
1 teapsoon red pepper flakes
1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 tablespoons adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers
1 teapsoon dried oregano
1/3 cup cilantro
1 clove garlic
1/3 cup olive oil
1 cup breadcrumbs toasted in olive oil
Soak the beans according to directions for your specific brand of beans. Place beans in a pot of water (with water one inch above the beans and with the lid cracked), bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the beans are tender. Remove from heat once cooked through and salt the bean broth. Let sit for 10 minutes and then drain.
Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce and then the cilantro pesto. Saute the garlic, red pepper flakes and salt in olive oil for one minute. Add the tomatoes and oregano. Bring to a simmer then remove from heat. Stir in the adobo sauce. Taste and season with more sauce or more salt if needed.
In a food processor, pulse the garlic and the cilantro. While the processor is running, add the olive oil until you have a smooth paste.
Preheat the oven to 425. In a fireproof pan, toss the beans, tomato sauce and chopped kale together. Top with crumbled queso fresca. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the cheese has browned ever so slightly and the beans on the top of the pot have crispy skins. Serve garnished with bread crumbs, cilantro pesto and more cheese.