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Back in January I gave you a quick “recipe” for Black Bean Slop Mashup. I really should have shown more respect for it by calling it something nicer like Frijoles Negros. But I didn’t.

Since then, I’ve played around with black beans a bit more and found a delicious combo that I like even better. I present Fagioli Neri Italiani. Yes, an Italian spin on the little recipe which really can’t be called a recipe in my mind because it’s just a riff on a general idea.

But I have to say, it tasted so good! It all started when I “discovered” a grocery bag in the garage holding two lonely cans of what I thought were salt-free tomatoes. Had planned to make the Frijoles Negros again. Only problem, just one was salt-free, the other was sans salt but flavored with Italian ingredients. Hmmm? Possibilities flooded my mind and Frijoles Negros went out the window. In the end, this is what happened:

Fagioli Neri Italiani
1 medium red onion coarsely chopped
1 – 3 T. olive oil
2 – 3 cloves of finely sliced garlic
1 can diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings
1 can black beans rinsed using a fine sieve
salt and pepper after tasting
Optional:  Italian Sausage either sliced or casings removed and crumbled

I rough chopped the onion and put it in a pot with a tablespoon or so of olive oil. Cooked them over medium heat for a few minutes so they lost their hard crunch but weren’t translucent. Halfway through I tossed in the garlic. 

Next, I added the tomatoes. The black beans followed (free them of the gas-causing elements by rinsing). I let this all come to a boil then simmer away for a good hour so the beans and tomatoes would break down. If the beans are drying out toss in some water or stock, scrapping down the sides. I also smashed some of the fagioli against the side of the pot to help them along. The kitchen smelled wonderful.

When sufficiently broken down, I tasted and added a couple of turns freshly ground pepper and a bit of sea salt from it’s grinder, maybe 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoons (you may wish to add more, but I’m still watching my salt intake). Then I covered the pot and let it simmer for another 30 minutes. Dinner was served and it was delicious. I really liked the Italian seasonings.

This easily made 3 large servings btw. Next time I may cook the beans from scratch (slow cooker recipe here). So many reasons to: cheaper, total control of the salt, no BPA from the can. Browned Italian sausage, crumbled or sliced, could easily be added to the pot to satisfy the meat-lover.

If you click on the link above, you’ll find a recipe for cooking black beans in a slow cooker.. I also think I’ll use fresh oregano and basil or marjoram. You could easily add more garlic or leave the cloves whole and up the count as much as you like. Garlic cooked this way would be so good.

As a side note, I’ve noticed that some recipes call for washing beans before using and some don’t, so some people must not be affected by the gas. As you’ll notice, I’m not one of them. Interestingly, “Beans contain a triple sugar, stachyose; a quadruple sugar, raffinose; and a five sugar, verbascose that we cannot digest. We are missing an enzyme that is required to break down these sugars. When the beans get to the colon, the bacteria in the colon begins to ferment these sugars producing gas in the process.”

Supposedly your system can “learn to digest them” if you start with small amounts on a regular basis. Here is a link to read about “7 Ways to Avoid Gas from Beans”.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a caution concerning red kidney beans which contain a toxin if they’re undercooked. “By soaking the beans overnight and cooking them on high instead of low, you’ll neutralize the toxins, but you can also boil kidney beans for 10 minutes prior to putting them in the slow cooker just to be sure.”

This little experiment opens the door to all kinds of other flavor pairings like assorted Middle Eastern curries, Asian inspired ingredients and so on. Remember this little rhyme from ages ago?

“Beans, beans, The musical fruit,
The more you eat, the more you toot!
The more you toot, the better you feel,
so let’s eat beans with every meal.”