Grad School Gourmet: Bean-y Bruschetta (Vegan!)

So I had the privilege to meet dear, sweet blog reader Brenda before she moved away — but I got the most adorable text message from her yesterday saying she made the baked beans (one of my most popular recipes) and loved them, and when the heck am I going to post more recipes?! Well, she said it a lot cuter and nicer than that. <3 Sure, I’ve been super busy, but y’know, the time has come!

Truth is, the BFF Manfriend has been doing 90% of the cooking lately, while I’ve been scrambling. And I don’t mean eggs. In fact, this meal was inspired by the man himself. And his version actually might have been better. Also a true story. I know that you might think, Hey, this has two recipes, it can’t be fast or easy! But I promise – it’s simple, delicious, and can be thrown together in probably fifteen — tops twenty — minutes. I say this with confidence because yesterday I ran to the store down the street, and when I came back, the BFF Manfriend announced dinner was ready. Um. Yes? And you thought the mango heart was sweet.

This the perfect recipe if you (or a generous friend — thanks Ann!) have an abundance of tomatoes from your garden, getting way too ripe on your counter.

The tomatoes are strained of their seeds/juice, cooked down with a little olive oil, and seasoned as a tomato should be — with only salt, pepper, and oregano. The reserved juice and seeds aren’t wasted, though — they are added to lend some piquancy to the other layer of the meal — cooked black beans, which are seasoned with just some salt, pepper, cumin, and a touch of oregano.

Here’s what it looks like when those tomaters are all good and squeezed:

After mashing or blending the bean mixture (the Husband smashes; I blend [lazy]), you spread them on a slice of GF bread, and dollop on a spoonful of Succulent Tomato Topping. With salad on the side, this is an efficient (read: fast), high-protein, nutritious, vegan, and totally delicious meal. I like to think of it as “Grad School Gourmet” — cheap, but with a touch of class. I mean, I used “piquancy” to describe it. That’s not only a GRE word, it’s definitely made the rounds in fine cooking magazines…

NOTE: You do not have to include the strained tomato juices/seeds; feel free to omit the step of adding it to the beans and just dispose of it.

Simple, Succulent Tomato Topping

1.5 TB extra virgin olive oil
5 small to medium-sized tomatoes
1/2 t salt
1/2 t coarse ground pepper
1 TB oregano

1) Quarter tomatoes and remove seed pulp/juice (you can just squeeze them or run your fingertip along the seed line to remove). Reserve juice in a separate container.
2) Coarsely chop tomatoes.
3) Warm olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high, and add tomatoes, salt, pepper, and oregano.
4) Stir occasionally to keep from sticking; allow tomatoes to cook down (5-10 minutes).
5) Turn off heat, and, using a spoon or spatula, drain liquid into the container with the other tomato seed pulp/juice. Taste, add more seasoning if necessary.

Makes about 1/2 cup, depending on the size of the tomatoes. It should be enough for about 4 large slices of bread.

Classed-Up Quick Bean Spread

Reserved tomato juice/seeds from recipe above
1 1/4 C prepared black beans (= 1 14.5 oz can, rinsed and drained)
1 1/2 TB cumin
1/2 t salt
1/2 t coarse ground pepper
1/2 t oregano

1) Combine all ingredients in a shallow bowl and mash until combined — OR — place all in a blender and process until desired texture — OR — combine in a bowl and use an immersion blender until desired texture. Taste and adjust spicing accordingly.
2) Spread or pour (depending on consistency) over toast, and cover with Simple Succulent Tomato Topping.

Makes about 1 – 1 1/4 cups — enough to top 4 large slices of bread.

Mmm… Bean-y Bruschetta.

Like I said in the note above, the beans will be thicker if you add less (or no) juice. Also, as always, play with the spicing to your preference! These recipes are so simple that the real gem here is just the method; it’s amazing how easy it can be to just put a little bit of a different spin on something traditional, and end up with deliciousness. This felt like comfort food gone… adult.

What surprise meal successes have you had lately?

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I’m a writer, new mom and foodie. I love sharing what I know while making others feel beautiful. On this blog, I share my healthy lifestyle, simple meals, fitness tips and experiences.

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Kara Bout It