Easy vegetarian meals often call for canned beans. But in our efforts to watch our weight, we started to learn a lot more about label reading. One thing we’re really careful about is sodium – it makes a huge difference! A rule of thumb we learned was to read the calories per serving on the nutrition label. Then, if the milligrams of sodium per serving is higher than the calorie count, avoid it! Sounds easy, right? Unfortunately it’s the dirty secret of lots of canned foods – they have a lot of sodium. Even healthy choices like beans or soups are a problem. So we make our own beans now, on days when we’re busy working around the house, doing chores, laundry, or whatever. A few weeks ago we made some black-eyed peas…and they’re the star of today’s recipe. We grabbed a one-cup tub out of the freezer at breakfast time and let it thaw for the day…
Then we started dinner by putting some whole wheat pasta on to cook in a big pot of unsalted water. (Two ounces or 60g of dried whole wheat pasta per person is plenty!)
Then, while the past cooks…start a little onion (one small one) and garlic (two cloves) in a couple of teaspoons (10ml) of chili oil. We also chopped in a sweet, sweet pepper we picked up at Plank Road, around the corner. Next, some sliced mushrooms for texture, just rinsed and sliced. Keep stirring as you add the veg.
After the pepper, a good big handful of spinach, washed and chopped, and a diced fresh tomato go in the pot. Put the lid on, and turn heat to low for about 5 minutes to wilt the spinach.
Finally, it’s time for the beans. Dump them into the pan, along with about a tablespoon (15 ml) of pesto (check the types and buy the one with the least sodium!) . Pop the lid back on and simmer all of this until it is bubbling hot and ready to receive the pasta – just a few minutes should do. Then tip in the pasta, stir, sprinkle with a little cayenne, and lid the pan again. Let it simmer over very low heat for the flavours to meld.
Finally, when the flavours have had a chance to come together, serve! If you want, shave a little sharp cheddar on top, but you won’t need too much. An ounce or so should do between the two plates (that’s about 30 grams). Happy eating!