When you want dinner to be a breeze, make this

 01 Aug 2017 - 18:59

When you want dinner to be a breeze, make this
Black Beans and Greens With Avocado and Za'atar (Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)

By Joe Yonan / The Washington Post

There are nights when you want to think a little more about what you're cooking for dinner, and nights when you want to think a little less.

This is for the latter. It's a scrounging-around-for-something-good recipe, and it truly delivers, because the simple combination of ingredients includes a nice variety of textures and flavors. You skillet-cook the lot: black beans and baby spinach leaves, broccoli and cherry tomatoes. On top goes an avocado-and-lime mash, followed by a sprinkling of my favorite spice blend, za'atar (although you can skip that if it's a dealbreaker). The dish is so close to things I make fairly regularly and have never written down that when I saw it in a cookbook, I blinked, the way you do when you see an old friend in an unexpected place.

The recipe is from "Green Kitchen at Home" (Hardie Grant, 2017), whose Scandinavian authors, David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl, also write the blog Green Kitchen Stories.

I changed just two things, both of them having to do with the avocado. First, I doubled it, because, well, I wanted more of that creaminess in every bite. Second, they instruct you to form it, dipping two spoons into hot water and passing a scoop of the mixture between them, "turning and smoothing each side until a neat quenelle is formed."

Nah. Not with a recipe that's otherwise so unfussy. I didn't give it a second thought. After I mashed, I dolloped.

Black Beans and Greens With Avocado and Za'atar

2 to 4 servings, Healthy

Adapted from Green Kitchen at Home, by David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl (Hardie Grant, 2017).


1/2 head broccoli (about 8 ounces)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped (1 cup)

10 cherry tomatoes, each cut in half

About 3 1/2 ounces (2 cups) baby spinach leaves

One 14-ounce can no-salt-added black beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or more as needed

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more as needed

Flesh of 2 ripe avocados

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon za'atar, for serving (see NOTE)


Cut the broccoli into small florets then peel and thinly slice the stalk.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until it softens, 5 minutes.

Add the broccoli florets and stalk pieces; cook, stirring occasionally, until those pieces turn a brighter shade of green and lose their crunch yet still have some bite, 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, spinach and beans; cook, stirring, until the spinach has barely wilted, 1 minute. Season with the salt and pepper; taste, and then add more salt and/or pepper as needed. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.

Mash the avocados in a bowl with a fork until smooth, then stir in the lime juice.

Serve the black beans and greens in bowls or deep plates, topped with dollops of avocado and a sprinkling of za'atar, if using.

NOTE: If you can't find za'atar, either leave it out or substitute a squeeze of lime, some toasted sesame seeds, and pinches of dried thyme and cumin.

Nutrition | Per serving: 310 calories, 10 g protein, 30 g carbohydrates, 19 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 200 mg sodium, 12 g dietary fiber, 4 g sugar

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