When I was in San Francisco I picked up a bag of Rancho Gordo black beans at the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market. I wondered what the difference was between store bought black beans, Northwest farmers' market turtle beans and Rancho Gordo Midnight beans.
First I'll address the grocery store black bean experience in one word. Gas. Sure these bargain beans are easier on your budget but don't be fooled by low prices, these beans are old. To cook them, you should soak them overnight, pour the water off and cook with a strip of kombu, a sea vegetable, for easier digestion. Even then you may experience gas. Also cheap dry black beans don't have much flavor. Still I have to admit, these bagged beans are inexpensive protein source and maybe it's good to have a back-up bag in your pantry. But be sure to eat these beans within a year, because old beans are no good for your digestive system.
Check around; prices at the market vary with type of beans and farm growing them. From blogs I've read, it costs around $4. to grow a pound of beans in the Northwest, so be prepared for higher prices for this year's crop at the farmers' market.
Rancho Gordo Midnight beans actually taste different from Turtle beans. More firm to the tooth, yet with a soft sweetish creamy interior than the black turtle beans. The flavor was definitely worth paying farmers' market prices. I'm putting Midnight beans on my "must have" list.
If you're intrigued, you can order Midnight beans from Rancho Gordo. Rancho Gordo beans, grains and popcorn also make great gifts for the foodie on your gift list. If your Cooking Assistant doesn't spot them first, that is.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup shallots or onions, chopped
8 to 10 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 carrot, diced
1 small sweet potato, diced
1 tablespoon cumin
1 cup dried, soaked overnight and drained dry black beans
2 cups water
1 6-inch piece of kombu (cut into tiny pieces)
10 sundried tomatoes, chopped
1 orange, juice and zest
Pinch of cayenne (or to taste)
Sea salt to taste
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (optional)
1. Heat oil over medium heat in the bottom of a pressure cooker. Add shallots or onions, stir and cook until lightly browned. Stir in garlic and cook until caramelized and fragrant. Add carrot, sweet potato, cumin, black beans, water and sundried tomatoes.
2. Lock the lid on the pressure cooker. Turn heat to high; when the button pops up start timing for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, remove pot from the heat and let the pressure come down naturally. Taste to be sure the beans are cooked, then add about a tablespoon of orange zest and orange juice. Add cayenne and sea salt to taste.
3. Garnish with cilantro, if desired. Serve with warm corn tortillas.