This plant-based grain, green & bean skillet is a simple and nourishing meal that can be adapted to fit what’s in your pantry and fridge. Served with a tangy and delicious tahini turmeric “yum” sauce!
If nothing else, the start of a new year gives us opportunity to think about where we’re coming from.
Twelve months ago, as 2016 got underway, I was buzzing with excitement at the prospect of a new book project. My mind was overrun with fun new recipe ideas and ingredient lists.
Having spent the last year bringing those recipes to life, I’m in a different place. I’m dipping my toes back into cooking, and what I’m craving isn’t creative or new. It’s simple and grounding.
In light of this, I thought it was appropriate to make this grain, green & bean skillet my last recipe post of 2016. It’s what I make when I’m not really in the mood to wrangle a recipe. It’s a complete, nutritious meal that comes together easily and leaves me satisfied.
I’m not usually a fan of neat dictums when it comes to the business of healthful eating. But if there’s any motto that I can get behind, it’s “a grain, a green, and a bean.”
This food trinity provides protein, carbs, fiber, and phytonutrients. Depending on the bean and the green you select, you’ll probably get a good dose of calcium and fiber, too.
You can customize the grain, green & bean in this recipe to fit what you have at home. Here, I’m using brown rice, chickpeas, and kale.
These are ingredients that I always have in my pantry and fridge. Rice is inexpensive and easy to batch cook. Kale is available year-round in my neck of the woods. Chickpeas are without a doubt my favorite legumes.
But I’ve made this dish with many different grains, including farro, barley, wheat berries, quinoa, and millet. I’ve used broccoli rabe, spinach, and collard greens in place of kale. I’ve made the recipe with lentils, navy beans, pinto beans, and black beans.
If the greens in this recipe aren’t enough vegetable for you, don’t worry. You can stir in some zucchini, broccoli florets, green beans, cauliflower, or another favorite, chopped vegetable.
No matter what liberties you take with the recipe, don’t skip the sauce—or at least a sauce. The skillet gets some flavor from garlic, lemon, salt, and pepper. But the yum sauce adds acid, brightness, color, and some healthful fat from tahini.
You may be wondering what the heck “yum sauce” is.
It’s a mixture of tahini, nutritional yeast, lemon, vinegar, mustard, and turmeric. It was inspired by the yum sauce at Dobra Tea, which I tasted in Asheville over the summer. I wasn’t sure what the ingredients were, but I knew that mustard and turmeric were in there.
I loved the sauce so much that I rushed to re-create it when I got home. It reminds me of a sauce I used in my quinoa protein bowl ages ago. It’s also reminiscent of my turmeric tahini dressing. But I like it more than both of them. The nutritional yeast gives it a savory quality that I love.
The yum sauce is worth a try. But you can substitute another favorite dressing or sauce in the grain, green & bean skillet. Some options:
If that fails, try an extra drizzle of olive oil, avocado slices, or a big dollop of hummus.
As with a lot of my meals, I like to prepare this one in stages. I generally cook the rice a day or two in advance of making it. If I plan to cook the beans from dry, I’ll do that in advance as well.
The yum sauce can be prepared up to a few days in advance. Once made, it keeps for up to six days in an airtight container in the fridge.
When I’m ready to eat, preparing the skillet is as simple as a little sautéing.
To store the grain, green & bean skillet, keep the cooked ingredients in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days. The yum sauce should be stored separately.
Love this grain, green & bean skillet? Craving more grain/green/bean options? I’ve got some other favorites:
This month, I’ll be focusing on simple food and simple cooking. I always try to think about simplicity when I create and post recipes, but I get carried away by projects, too.
Culinary projects—the big lasagna, the enchiladas, the layer cake—have a place. But this is a good time of year for getting back to basics.
I’ll also be touching on themes of self-care, practicality, and careful listening to one’s body—practices that can powerfully complement the intention of eating simply and well.
I’m signing off for now. Happy New Year, everyone!