Black Bean Torte
Last night, as I was going through a manila folder of mainly hand scribbled recipes, this one for Black Bean Torte showed up in a newsletter I had saved from 1994. It was from Chinaberry Book Service, which at that time was a wonderful homespun book catalogue. Whenever their catalogue arrived in my mailbox, I couldn’t wait to sit down with it. Maybe you remember those days before these current ones of the instant gratification of see it, order it, get it before you can turn around.
Back then, there was the excitement of the arrival of a new catalogue, that I had requested, the careful looking over each and every page, and then the dreaming about what I wanted, which most often was tempered by what my family needed, and I could actually afford.
When I did order from a catalogue, I would pick out the perfect item, carefully fill out the order form, write out a check, address and stamp the envelope, and finally place it in the mailbox for it to be picked up by post. So many steps, and each of them full of excitement.
Sometimes the wait for the order would be so long that I would have forgotten that I had ordered something. When the delivery truck, which I think of as a modern day Wells Fargo Wagon, would rumble up the road, my glittery excitement was renewed once again, as I remembered that I had ordered something and now it was here!
When it was a book from Chinaberry, tucked in the package would also be a lovely newsletter called “Under the Chinaberry Tree”, with warm and welcoming words. The particular one that I kept includes the highlighted words “the holiday season is very much about finding light within the darkness” which seems so appropriate for the Winter Solstice today.
The newsletter also includes a wonderful recipe just in time to recreate for winter gatherings with family and friends. The author of the newsletter (and recipe) even said “If you decide to make this, I suggest you make photocopies of this (yes, you have my permission) and be prepared, because it is a bit of a long, drawn out hassle to write it all out.” So, since the permission was given in 1994, here is it for you to enjoy nearly 25 years later!
In the picture above, it mentions having tea on December 21st at 4pm. I’ll be enjoying a cup then and thinking of you!
Black Bean Torte
- 1 2/3 cups black beans, dry
- 6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 3 cups slightly packed cilantro leaves
- 4 teaspoons olive oil
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 12 ounces roasted red peppers, rinsed and patted dry, then minced (set 2 tablespoons aside)
- 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
- crackers or crusty bread
- Cook beans with cumin in the stock until they are tender. Drain thoroughly.
- Mash about 1 cup of the beans and mix with the whole beans. Set aside and let cool.
- For the cilantro pesto, place the cilantro leaves, olive oil, garlic, and pine nuts, in a food processor or blender, and puree.
- Line at 4" x 8" loaf pan with plastic wrap, allowing the edges to overlap the top edge of the pan. Put 1/2 of the bean mixture into the pan, gently pressing to make a smooth layer.
- Carefully spread the cilantro pesto over the beans.
- Make an even layer of the peppers on top of the pesto.
- Sprinkle the feta cheese on top of the peppers.
- Top the cheese with the rest of the bean mixture, pressing gently to make a compact loaf.
- Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill at least 4 hours or up to 3 days, with something perched on top, to add weight.
- Uncover pan, invert a plate onto it, and holding pate and pan together, invert again. This means flip it over!
- Lift pan off and remove plastic wrap.
- Spoon a yogurt or sour cream band down the middle of the loaf.
- Sprinkle with the reserved minced peppers.
- Present with several knives or spatulas for serving with the bread or crackers.