Beans to ring in the New Year
Being a legume lover means I’ll never go hungry.
As someone who adores lentils, split peas, chickpeas, favas and dried kidney beans of every stripe, I keep them in spades in my pantry, and I could happily survive for months without ever leaving the house.
Since legumes are considered auspicious for the New Year, I often have some on the stove during the first week of January, for whatever good luck or prosperity they may impart.
I love that others across the world celebrate the new year with one bean or another: In Italy, for example, with lentils that call to mind coins, and in the American South, with black-eyed peas, paired with greens that represent paper money.
But a pot of beans simmers year round in many of the world’s kitchens, usually with a pot of rice nearby, for a humble, hearty and delicious meal. In some versions, the cooked rice and stewed beans are combined before serving. In others, they are served side by side or with the beans spooned over the rice.
Throughout the Caribbean and Central America, beans and rice (or rice with beans) is made with pigeon peas, red beans or black turtle beans, to name a few. There are lots of variations made with lentils. The combination of rice and lentils is also popular throughout the Mediterranean, the Middle East and South Asia, cooked together in the same pot or separately.
In my view, a bowl of beans and rice makes a heavenly meal any day of the week, unmatched for flavor and appeal — unless we’re talking about beans and pasta, but that’s another story.