There’s a phrase around these parts, ¿Qué más chileno que los porotos? (What’s more Chilean than beans?), which soon makes sense once you’ve been in Chile a while. It seems that “Beanz meanz Heinz” has been wrong all along – they really mean Chile. They are, of course, everywhere!
When summer comes along, farmers’ markets and veggie stalls begin brimming with porotos granados (cranberry beans) a type which are only found in the hot months. Restaurants soon follow suit with delicious, flavoursome dishes using this seasonal bean, particularly porotos granados con mazamorra, a bowl of stewy goodness combining beans, tomatoes, pumpkin and corn – all of which are indigenous to these parts. In a primarily carnivorous country, Chilean vegetarians are generally left to munch on salads and potatoes. However, during summer they can well and truly do a happy dance!
Beans might not seem like a particularly tummy-happy choice for summer – they conjure up ideas of stews and open fires after all – but this baby, especially when made using fresh beans, won’t leave you heavy as a lead weight.
Let’s get cooking!
- One onion, diced
- 1 1/2 cups tomato, diced
- 3 cups squash, peeled and diced (butternut squash or similar will work)
- 2 cups cooked cranberry beans (use pinto, lima or red beans if that’s all you can find – and remember to soak and cook them first if using dried beans)
- 1 ½ cups corn kernels
- 3 cups water, stock or a mixture
- S+P to taste
- Olive oil
- 1 tsp oregano
- ½ tsp basil (hopefully fresh!)
- ½ tsp cumin
- ¼ tsp paprika
- Sauté onions until they start to become transparent. Add the garlic, herbs and spices, and continue sautéing for a few minutes more.
- Add tomatoes and cook another 5 minutes. Add the stock (or water), pumpkin, beans, salt and pepper.
- Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer another 15-20 minutes (let the pumpkin be your guide – it must be well cooked through).
- While the pot’s simmering away, process the corn kernels in the food processor until they form a paste. Soon, you’ll be adding this to the pot. (Variation: if you’d prefer not to process the corn, feel free to add the kernels whole. In this case, good on you!, you’ve actually made an entirely different dish: porotos granados con pirco.)
- Stir in corn and basil. Continue simmering for another 5 minutes.
Serve with an ensalada chilena (typical Chilean salad of tomato and lightly blanched onion). Season with chilli sauce or Chilean merkén (smoked and spiced chilli flakes) if your taste buds prefer a touch of fire.