If you haven’t started thinking about vegetarian main dishes for Thanksgiving, now is the time. This year I am focusing on beans from North America. I have been enjoying a number of heirloom beans native to the Southwest and Mexico, and they were the inspiration for these dishes, most of which also incorporate other foods native to the Americas – squash, corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes.
Four out of five of this week’s Recipes for Health qualify as main dishes for vegetarians (one, a delicious purée of white beans and potatoes, is more of a side dish), and three of them are also vegan. They can also be enjoyed as side dishes. They are substantial and high in protein, and will appeal to the nonvegetarians at the table. The flavors I was after are those we associate with American classics like baked beans, as well as spicy flavors that speak of the Southwest.
Although I’m loving the heirloom beans I’ve discovered, they are not a requirement for any of this week’s recipes. The pintos, black beans, white beans and red beans in your local supermarket will be fine. But it does pay to use dried beans rather than canned, so that you get the delicious savory broth along with the perfectly seasoned beans.