Saturday, August 30, 2014

Tex-Mex Black Bean Cornbread Supper with Gluten-Free Option

Years ago, I worked at a little pharmacy gift shop at Texas Corners outside Kalamazoo Michigan. Gift shops are always interesting little places because they are constantly playing this game of "what do people want?" thus are wonderful and unique hodgepodges of all manner of stuff. Every now and again, this gift shop would get in funky little recipe books that sometimes sold well and other times were total flops. 

One book that I picked up for myself is called Mom's Best One-Dish Suppers: 101 easy homemade favorites as comforting now as they were then by Andrea Chesman. I don't think this book is in print any longer, but you can get the eBook for $8.49. (Kobo is the cheapest version I found online.) The book has some really good recipes with chapters covering soups and stews, skillet and other stovetop suppers, oven-baked suppers, and salad suppers, all designed to be a complete meal (protein plus veggies, etc) in one dish. 

I am not actually sure how much I have ended up using this book over the years because the recipes call for a lot of things I could not always afford to buy, like meat, spices, fresh vegetables, and wine. I am in a much better position now to splurge on such things, though the phenomenally delicious recipe I am sharing today is vegetarian and can also very easily be made gluten-free. It's called Tex-Mex Black Bean Cornbread Supper and it is found in the skillet chapter, but I had to make it into a casserole because I don't have an "ovenproof skillet." I will show you how I made it, which did involve a little tweaking.

To make the beans, you need:
  • 2 T canola or olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 bell pepper, finely chopped (the recipe suggests 1/2 green and 1/2 red; to avoid being wasteful, I used 1 orange)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 15oz can of diced tomatoes with green chiles (do not drain)
  • 1 15oz can black beans
  • Salt & pepper to taste
The recipe actually calls for 1 to 3 fresh hot chiles, finely diced, and one can of regular diced tomatoes. I don't like chiles and I am frugal, so I bought the can of Meijer all-natural diced tomatoes with green chiles for the same price, saving myself about $3 and really getting the same effect in the dish. (Actually, it did end up with a little bite to it, so next time I may scratch the green chiles entirely.)

This recipe also has you make the cornbread topping from scratch. I used Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix because at 99 cents a box, it saved so much time and money. The internet tells me that Jiffy Mix is not gluten-free, however. For the gluten-free easy-breezy option, I recommend Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Cornbread Mix, which can also be bought from Meijer, or probably any decent-sized grocery store (Kroger, Safeway, Harding's, Whole Foods, and so forth). Both of these mixes can be made with milk substitutions (soy, almond, hemp, etc) and egg substitutions (like this flax egg substitute I made one time) making this casserole a pretty darn tasty option for people with food allergies.

The assembly:
  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and cumin. Saute until the onion is soft, about 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the cans of tomatoes and beans and cook a few minutes more. Remove from heat and salt and pepper to taste. Carefully pour the beans mixture into an appropriately sized casserole dish. 
  3. Make the cornbread according to box (or recipe) instructions. Evenly spread the cornbread batter over the beans mixture in the casserole dish to make a top crust. 
  4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cornbread topping is golden brown and firm. Serves 4 or 5.

Et voila. This was so delicious that I want to eat it again right now. It sure did heat up my kitchen, though, so maybe not the best thing to bake when the weather is hot and humid and your kitchen is incapable of getting any sort of breeze. 

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