Cooking Off Campus: Black Beans are Magical

Hello, my always hungry collegiettes!™ (Or is it just me who’s always hungry?) It’s prelim season, and we all know what that means- time goes out the window faster than that 4.0 you were hoping to obtain this semester. Symptoms of this include spontaneous tears and realizing that you don’t even have time to wait for your pizza bagel to finish melting at CTB. (So delicious, but why on earth does it take so long? That, my friends, is why we invented the microwave.)

At times like these our eating habits tend to take a drastic downward turn, as well- both because of stress-eating and because the quickest options are rarely the healthiest ones. My roommate, for example, has eaten macaroni and cheese for three days. And while mac and cheese is quite delicious, if you eat too much you turn into a block of cheese yourself (at least according to my childhood babysitter.)  But we will overcome! There have to be cheap, easy, healthier options out there that don’t involve me selling my soul to the corporate man by eating McDonald’s!

My friends, I give you…. The can of black beans.

Simple! Unassuming! 89 cents for a small can or $1.69 for a larger can that you can probably get four servings out of if, like me, you REALLY like black beans! They are an excellent source of fiber, and black beans mixed with rice in particular is a great protein for days where meat is either too expensive or too time consuming. (Of course, I almost always cook up some meat to go along with it because I am an intense carnivore. But I digress.) Yes, my friends, a can of black beans is a perfect food. And to prove it, I am going to dedicate as many of my next few recipes as I can to black beans. I’ll start with what I have lovingly begun to refer to as “Sausage ‘n’ Stuff”:

Sausage ‘n’ Stuff
½ cup of minute rice (you can use real rice, but I’m lazy)
Several handfuls of mushrooms
1 mild Italian sausage (the Wegmans brand is cheap and fabulous)
½ cup canned black beans
Frying oil of your choice (I like to use olive oil)
Small spoonful of minced garlic
Dollop of sour cream (optional)
Begin by cooking the rice as per instructions on the box (generally speaking: bring ½ cup of water to a boil, add rice, cover and let sit five minutes.) While that is cooking, add just enough oil to a small frying pan to coat the bottom and place sausage in the pan over medium low to medium heat. (It often helps to cut slits in the sausage first- this will also give you a better idea of when it will be done.)

Add garlic to frying sausages. Don’t be afraid for the two to mingle! The sausage will take about ten minutes to cook, but ALWAYS check by cutting the sausage open and looking for pinkness. Raw meat is not your friend. When it looks about done, add mushrooms to the pan and sauté with the sausage for another minute or two until the mushrooms are cooked through.

While that is cooking, heat black beans in the microwave for forty-five seconds. Remove and top with the rice. Pour the cooked sausage/mushroom/garlic mixture over that, add a dollop of sour cream, and voila! A delicious (and easy) meal.

Note: Black beans are good with pretty much anything, so don’t feel limited by my recipes. Feel free to experiment! I’ve been known to simply mix them with ramen noodles and call it dinner—hardly a recipe, but certainly quick, cheap and satisfying.