Don’t you just love it when you throw a meal together out of “nothing” and it ends up being really good. So good, in fact, that you can’t wait to recreate it. That’s how these Simple Weeknight Curried Beans came to be. We got home late last Saturday night from the Santa Claus parade and Basia needed to eat dinner right away. Cold and damp from the rain, something cozy was in order. Add to that I wanted healthy, fast, and interesting enough that we’d all enjoy it and it became a tall order. Yet somehow it magically came together. Dinner brainstorming started with Ken telling me that before my time, he’d steam some broccoli and make a curry out of canned chickpeas for a fast dinner. Growing up in a Sri Lankan household, he ate “curry” every day, and this was an easy way to get the feel of home cooking. (Though, this is in no way an authentic or traditional Sri Lankan curry). We didn’t have chickpeas, so we apprehensively opened a can of cannellini beans. “Let’s give it a try,” I said. Talking it through as we made it he instructed me to, “first start with a masala (a blend of spices).” I heated up the olive oil, and started cooking down some onions over medium heat. Staring at the spice rack, Ken suggested cumin seed, mustard seed, and curry leaves (which, admittedly, I forgot in the end) and I chimed in with turmeric and coriander. Chili is a must-have in curry, but we added it in at the end to spare Basia the heat. She eats what we eat most days, but she has made it very clear to us that some of what we’ve given her is too spicy. So we’re trying to more careful. The kitchen felt like a warm hug; everything was coming together. As it did, so did the perfection of the night. The rain drizzled outside, the This is Us soundtrack played softly in the background, we sipped on a shared Guinness, and Basia munched on steamed broccoli. The warmth and fragrance of the spices permeated the air in anticipation of the meal. And within 15 minutes of starting, we sat down to bowls of warm curried beans spooned over quinoa (for time’s sake) and drizzled with chili mustard oil. It was real life with my family and it was perfect.
I made it again this week and quickly took some pictures before we ate, so that I could share this post with you. With the holidays coming up, I wanted you to have another 15 minute meal in your back pocket for the nights when there’s just too much else to do. For those of you in the US, I know it’s hard to imagine eating curry with Thanksgiving in clear reign now. But tuck this one away for busy holiday times or for early January when you’re craving something healthy and comforting. It won’t let you down. Until next time, friends. xo
If you make this, be sure to tag me @80twentyfood or #80twentyfood on Instagram. I love seeing what you’re up to.
Simple Weeknight Curried Beans (print recipe here)
Makes: Enough for 2 adults, plus a little one. Though I have no doubt the recipe would easily double.
Notes: Feel free to adjust the level of heat by adjusting the amount of chili flakes in the oil recipe. If you don’t have broccoli on hand, throw a couple of handfuls of spinach into the curry to wilt just before serving.
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, cut into small dice
1½ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp brown mustard seeds
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced or pressed through a garlic press
2½ cups (approximately ¾ of a 796 mL can) diced tomatoes in their juice
1 (540 mL) can of white beans (cannellini, kidney), rinsed and drained
¼ – ½ tsp salt, to taste
1 head of broccoli, cut into 2-inch florets
Rice or quinoa for serving
Cilantro leaves for garnishing, optional but highly encouraged
Full-fat, plain yogurt for serving, optional
Chili Mustard Oil
1 tbsp high smoke point oil (I like avocado)
½ tsp chili flakes, more or less depending on how hot you want it. This give a very mild level of heat.
½ tsp brown mustard seeds
Start by steaming the broccoli: Set a steamer basket over boiling water or simply boil a shallow amount of water in a pot. Add broccoli, cover with lid, and steam until almost crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and set aside.
While the broccoli is steaming, heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add in the onions and cook until they become translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in the cumin seeds, turmeric, coriander, mustard seeds, and garlic and cook, stirring constantly until fragrant and the onions are evenly coated, about a minute. Pour in the tomatoes and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom. Stir in the salt. Next, add in the beans and stir to combine. Allow to simmer for a few minutes so that the beans take on the flavour of the sauce. Add in the broccoli and stir to combine. Cover and simmer, allowing the broccoli to finish cooking–about another minute or two. Taste and season with salt, if needed.
In a small ,heavy-bottomed pan heat the oil over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Add in the chili flakes and mustard seeds and stir. Continue to swish the pan around periodically until the mustard seeds begin to pop then immediately remove from heat. Drizzle the oil over top of the curry.
Serve everything on a bed of rice or quinoa. Garnish with cilantro and a dollop of plain yogurt, if using.