Mexican bean squares
( SERVES 4 )
Photo by Tamara West
Perhaps I’m just trying to heal my inner “vegetarian child missing out on the sausages at the barbecue” but it gives me a thrill to make something that gives grilled meat a run for its money. These crispy bean squares were inspired by a photo I saw of something carnivorous on a platter with dipping sauce. They have a crispy top and bottom with a rich, savoury, centre and I think that contrast of textures is why I like them so much.
The combination of beans and brown rice makes a more complete protein so they get a tick for that too. For an interesting fresh touch alongside, I’ve got some orange segments sprinkled with cinnamon, a combo I love. I first tried it as a follow up to tequila, instead of the more common salt and lime. The orange really brings out the sweet spiciness of the cinnamon. You can make these bean squares a few days ahead and keep them in the fridge, ready to cook up in a flash whenever you want a really tasty (and vegan) munch.
There are a few steps to making the bean squares but they’re worth the effort. The mixture is baked to give a firm layer top and bottom that helps it hold together so you can cut it into hand-holdable pieces which are then fried to crisp them up. The chipotle and tomato sauce is rich and fragrant, with a decent amount of warmth. My favourite is the ‘la Morena’ brand of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.
|300 g||Kidney beans, cooked, well drained (canned is fine)|
|180 g||Brown rice, cooked, drier rather than soggy|
|3 Tbsp||Tomato paste|
|1||Lemon, zest of|
|1 tsp||Black pepper|
|3 tsp||Ground cumin|
|50 g||Pumpkin seeds, ground|
Chipotle dipping sauce
|1 Tbsp||Ground coriander|
|1 Tbsp||Canola oil, or olive oil|
|1||Small onion, finely chopped|
|2||Garlic cloves, finely chopped|
|½ tsp||Black pepper|
|400 g||Crushed tomatoes|
|1 tsp||Chipotle in adobo sauce, finely chopped|
Place all bean square ingredients except the pumpkin seeds into a food processor and whizz until smooth. Add the pumpkin seeds and process again to get a firmer texture. The mix should feel fairly dry, if it’s at all sloppy add a little more rice or pumpkin seed and whizz a little more.
Tip into a small baking paper-lined oven dish and spread out evenly to 15-20mm thick. Leave one end of the tray empty if it’s bigger than you need, the key thing is to get the thickness right. Bake at 170C fanbake for 30 minutes until the top is lightly browned and firm to touch. Remove from oven and allow to cool a little, or chill until needed.
To make the sauce, toast the coriander in a hot pan for about 15 seconds to bring out the flavour. Add oil, onion and garlic and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add remaining ingredients then turn the heat down to medium and cook for 5 minutes until it has thickened up a bit. Cool for a few minutes then whizz in a food processor for 30 seconds to get a nice smooth texture.
Cut the baked bean slab into matchbox sized pieces and fry for a minute or two each side in a hot pan with a little canola oil. Cook just long enough to crisp up the outside and get the middle hot.
- Spread some salad greens on a platter then sprinkle with lime or lemon juice and a little salt. Toss orange segments in a small bowl with the cinnamon then arrange on top.