Monthly Archives: January 2014

Armenian Bean Casserole

Today was dreich.  A good Scots word for a rather wretched Scottish day.  Outdoors, it was wet, windy, dark and thoroughly unappealing.

Normally, miss F and I would have gone shopping today – the stock of fresh stuff in the house is getting perilously low – but as she put it: “I want to be warm and dry more than I want to get fresh air.”

So, what to make with store-cupboard-only ingredients that would be a warming welcome-home for DH after a double shift yesterday, and another long one today.


Armenian Bean Casserole
(feeds 4-6 with rice or chunks of bread)


225g pinto beans soaked for 8h or overnight (or you can use 3 tins – roughly 600g cooked beans anyway and start following the recipe after the first 30 minute simmering stage)
1 litre water
3 Tbsp oil for frying
2 onions chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2.5 cm root ginger, finely chopped (I used 1 tsp of the bottled Minced Ginger from Approved Foods ‘cos ginger just doesn’t last in my fridge)
1 tin chopped tomatoes (I love the tetrapaks from
2 vegetable stock cubes
85g ready-to-eat dried apricots, quartered (scissors are good for this)
30g raisins/sultanas (basics range always seems to be sultanas, so that’s what I used)


Tip out the soaking water and put the beans in a large pan with 1 litre of water.  Bring to the boil and boil vigorously for 10 minutes.  Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, chop the onions and fry them gently until soft.
(a useful tip, when chopping onions, is to leave the root end intact. It holds everything together, and you can slice from tip to almost root all the way across before cutting slices from the nose-end)
onion ready for chopping
Add the spices and ginger and stir well.  Add the garlic and fry for another few minutes, until it stops smelling raw.
Add the part-cooked beans along with their cooking liquid, then the tomatoes, veggie stock cubes, apricots and sultanas.
Bring back to the boil, and simmer uncovered  for a further 30 minutes until the beans are tender and the cooking liquid has reduced to a thick, unctuous gloop.  Stir occasionally, but I’ve never had this catch yet (touch wood).

Serve with rice, bread, or whatever takes your fancy.

(If, like me, you have a pressure cooker, you may want to do the first stage in there, and save yourself 20 minutes or so….)

After all that, though, his nibs decided he would prefer hummus, so 5 mins in a mini-blender later, that was his dinner along with oatcakes and some of the red wine I won at work.  I’ll post that recipe another day.

For now, here’s a collection of recipes that might appeal:

Link up your recipe of the week



Tortilla Lasagna

Wednesday night arrived, and with it the lovely news that DH didn’t have to work.  Lovely, except that I hadn’t planned dinner to include him, as he gets fed when he is at the cafe….  Nothing on the plan and not much in the fridge either, so there was a momentary panic before I remembered this recipe, which will go from ingredients to table in less than 30 minutes.

It’s one of DH’s favourite recipes, modified from a magazine article many years ago.

Tortilla Lasagna (serves 4 if you have salad to go with it, or have a full pack of 8 wraps)


Wheat tortilla wraps (minimum 4, but 6+ is better)
Tomato pasta sauce (1/2 jar or make your own: 1/2 onion fried gently, add 1 tin chopped tomatoes, simmer while you’re flapping about defrosting the spinach and setting the table)
Frozen spinach (300g, defrosted and the water squeezed out a bit)
finely grated cheddar cheese (150 – 400g depending on how cheesy you like it, and how far your budget will stretch)


Put some greaseproof paper on a baking sheet.  You really need this as the wraps can weld themselves to whatever you cook them on.
First layer: 1-tortilla, 2-pasta sauce, 3-spinach, 4-cheese
Last layer: tortilla, pasta sauce, cheese

Bake in a hot (200C) oven for 20 minutes, remove and allow to stand for 5 minutes to firm up a little.
Cut like a pizza and eat hot or cold.
It freezes and reheats very well.

This time we had ours made with 4 wraps, and about 150g of cheese, and it was yummy but only fed 2 adults and 1 6-year-old.  More wraps and more cheese = more people….

Adzuki “black” bean soup

(feeds 4 with bread, or 2 without)

3/4 cup adzuki beans, soaked 8h or overnight in plenty of water, and well rinsed. (or 2x400g tins)
1L water
1 bay leaf
1/2 onion, chopped
1/4 – 1/2 tsp salt (to taste)
3/4 cup frozen pepper bits
1 tsp cumin
1/4 – 1/2 tsp chilli flakes (or ground ginger for gentler warmth)
Oil for frying.

First cook the beans in the water with the bay leaf added until very soft: 9 minutes in a pressure cooker at High pressure, or 40 minutes in an ordinary pan.
Pour everything into a large bowl, and clean the pan.
Fry the onion gently until soft.
Add the cumin, chilli flakes, peppers, beans & cooking liquid along with the bay leaf.
Simmer for 15 mins.
Remove the bay leaf (!)
Liquidise / blend and add salt to taste.

Serve with bread & butter.

This is seriously spicy, so if you don’t like heat, try adding ground ginger instead of the chilli flakes.