Masa crusted potatoes with smoky red beans and greens, and honey-lime avocado cucumber salsa

Masa-dusted potatoes, red beans and roasted red peppers, and lime honey cucumber guacamole

Masa-dusted potatoes, red beans and roasted red peppers, and lime honey cucumber guacamole

One of the delightful things about my disintegrating eyesight is that when I read I’m no longer confined to the actual words on the page. When I read without glasses, who knows what the book really says? Not me! So I have a whole new world before me, in which the page contains whatever words I want it to–I get to choose! Sometimes at work I’ll overhear small chunks of conversations, and my brain will fill in the parts that are too quiet for me to pick up. Usually, the resulting discussion, in my head, is very funny (and frequently off-color). And now this effect has sidled over to my appreciation of printed matter. It says whatever I think it says. The other day I was reading the boys’ Rocks and Minerals books, as one does, and I came across a fascinating map of the world. It had little icons to show the various regions where people mine for things–I’m assuming coal and gold and the like, but I couldn’t tell you for sure because the writing in the legend was tiny. According to my eyes, one thing that people mine for throughout the globe is precious stories. Well! I like this idea a lot! I like to think of people traveling all over the world and mining for valuable tales, digging deep amongst the people that live in each region to come up with raw, beautiful chunks of legend. The icon for precious stories seemed to be in some very varied and interesting parts of the world, and in my imagination the stories are found in thick veins, running through all of the people there. People would come and set up camps, and they’d follow the story from one person to the next, probably never finding the end of it, because the myths would be as old as the rocks and would lie deep in the earth. Maybe they’d take it and refine it and polish it, or maybe they’d leave it in its original state, rough and strong. Farther along in the book, I misread a caption to read “metaphorical rocks.” And people would collect these, too, and string them together to make new stories. The metaphorical rocks would be prized and valued above diamonds and gold, which would be deemed pretty but relatively useless, when compared to a cherished tale. People would understand the value of a story to spark creativity, to heal, to transform, with these metamorphical metaphorical rocks.

Masa dusted potatoes

Masa dusted potatoes

I thought this was a really fun meal! First, I sliced some potatoes quite thinly, parboiled them, dusted them with rosemary and masa harina and then roasted them in olive oil. They came out with a nice texture–not super crunchy, exactly, but with more oomph. And they have the lovely subtle flavor of the masa harina. Then I roasted some red peppers, and combined them with red beans and spinach in a smokey sauce of chipotle and smoked paprika. And we added a bright light guacamole-salsa made with cucumbers, tomatoes and avocado lightly dressed with lime and honey. We topped it all off with grated sharp cheddar and pickled jalapenos, which my Malcolm loves! Any part of this meal would be good on its own, but it was very fun to eat all together as well.masa-potatoes-and-beans

Here’s REM with Maps and Legends.


THE POTATOES

5 or 6 medium-sized potatoes, cleaned and cut into 1/4 inch slices
2 T masa harina (+/-)
olive oil for the sheet
1 t rosemary, chopped
salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 425.

Put the potatoes in a pot. Bring the water to a boil and cook for about ten minutes. Drain. Toss the potatoes with masa harina and rosemary. Generously coat a baking sheet with olive oil. Spread the potatoes in the oil in a single sheet. Roast until brown and crispy, turning from time to time. About 30 – 40 minutes, depending on the thickness of your potatoes.

MEANWHILE…

BEANS & GREENS

2 red peppers
1 T olive oil
1 large shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
2 t fresh oregano
6 or 7 fresh sage leaves, or 1 t dried
1 can red beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups spinach, cleaned, trimmed and chopped quite fine
1 t chipotle puree (or to taste)
1 t smoked paprika
1 T butter
juice of one lime
salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper

Roast, grill or broil your peppers. I use the broiler, because I have an electric stove. I broil them till they’re blackened on all sides, turning from time to time, and then I pop the whole peppers into a bowl with a lid. I let them sit and steam for about 15 minutes, then I peel them, de-seed them and roughly chop them. If you have a gas stove you can blacken them right on the burner.

In a large skillet over medium heat warm the olive oil. Add the shallot, cook for about a minute, and then add the garlic and herbs. Cook until the garlic starts to brown, under a minute, then add the beans. Stir to coat and cook for a minute or two, then add the chipotle, smoked paprika and spinach. Add a few spoonfuls of water if the pan seems too dry. Stir in the butter and lime juice, and season well with salt and pepper.

THE SALSA

1/2 large cucumber, peeled or not, cut into small cubes
1 ripe avocado, peeled and pitted, cut into small cubes
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 t fresh oregano
1 T honey (or to taste)
juice of one lime
salt, black pepper and dusting of smoked paprika

Combine the cucumber, avocado, oregano and tomatoes and lightly toss. Add the lime and honey, and toss again. Season well with salt and pepper, and dust lightly with smoked paprika. Serve

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2 thoughts on “Masa crusted potatoes with smoky red beans and greens, and honey-lime avocado cucumber salsa

  1. I love this Claire,
    I’ve mentioned this before but I managed to go all through school without anyone picking up on the fact that I’m incredibly dyslexic. Animal Farm was one of the books we had to study, I did my usual trick of being invisible in class and asking other students questions about the book – this way I got an fairly good grade without ever being able to read the book properly. When I went to collage the tutor questioned how long I had know about my reading difficulties – and I had to admit that I’d never read a book in my life. The captions under artwork and in comic panels were as far as my struggling brain coped. He took me out of a class situation (where I panicked) and gave me ideas about how to concentrate without losing my place, the patterns in words that I could scan and ‘guess’ the word etc etc etc. From then on I devoured novels.
    I missed out on all the transitional reading of childhood; so Tintin and Asterix are THE MOST fun now reading with my children. The first book I read cover to cover was Animal Farm, short enough to sit and read in one sitting by the beach, not so long that it was a threat to my new found reading world.
    I re-sat the exam with my own ideas about the book – going from illiterate to falling 2% short of A grade in 3 months – but the funny thing was – I still didn’t scan the words 100% correctly and argued until I was blue in the face about certain passages – passages I had imagined while reading.
    I quickly gave up trying to read books the same way as other people, because it didn’t matter. Well, unless I met the author, or got into a heavy discussion about a part of a book that had developed from my imagination…. as often happened with Animal farm.
    In smaller ways I think that how everyone perceives stories and that’s why they can never be perfectly filmed.

    • Thanks, Shane. It’s strange to think sometimes that everything we read or watch or see is filtered through our own strange brains, despite what the creator intended. I think that’s a good thing, though, it makes reading and watching part of the creative process!!

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