The Sopranos and Lorna Sass: Black Bean Skillet Casserole with Cornbread Topping

What a busy weekend!

Last night I did not get a chance to blog about the delicious recipes I made to close out Lorna Sass month, because I was too busy watching season three of  The Sopranos to waste any time blogging.  Ok, I guess that watching TV doesn’t really qualify as busy, but it definitely took up a lot of time!

I am sure that after 12 hours of The Sopranos my world view is a bit skewed, but fortunately my recipe choosing abilities were not harmed.  Actually, it likely has more to do with the fact that I went with a sure thing.  None of Lorna Sass’s recipes have failed me yet.

I mentioned in a previous post that I had ordered Lorna Sass’s Complete Vegetarian Kitchen to augment her collection of pressure cooker recipes in Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure and, well, it arrived on Friday.  Perfect timing.  I would have no trouble squeezing in a recipe from Complete Vegetarian Kitchen before the month’s end.  I decided to go with something a little different and choose the Black Bean Skillet Casserole with Cornbread Topping.  It was really delicious, fun to make, and lovely to look at.  The combination of black beans, red peppers, carrots and cilantro beneath a vegan cornbread crust made for a bright and colourful meal.

I cooked up the beans and vegetables in my cast iron skillet, poured the cornbread batter over and threw it in the oven.  It turned out great!  I have made chili topped with cornbread once before, but the cornbread was a bit soggy.  I think the stew-like mixture beneath was too moist for the cornbread to fully cook.  On the other hand, this cornbread was light and fluffy and the smattering of corn kernels throughout the topping was a nice surprise.  To give you some idea of how delicious it was, EPC ate half the pan last night!  I couldn’t believe it.  To say the least, he really enjoyed it.

As you can see, even though I was glued to the TV, this weekend was not a total loss food-wise.  In addition, I took a break from The Sopranos to make stewed apples and strawberries in my pressure cooker.  This recipe on Lorna’s blog inspired me.  I intended making it with just apples, but the strawberries I had bought that morning were not that great, so I figured I would get better use out of them if I added them to the apples.  The strawberry gave the apples a bit of kick and colour, but did not take away from their tartness; the blend of apples and strawberries was a wonderful combination.

I used a few cups of my stewed fruit to make some apple strawberry bars, in the same tradition as date squares.  A simple oatmeal crust, slathered with stewed fruit topped with remaining oatmeal crust crumbs.  They were delicious.  I brought the majority of the squares to share with my coworkers, which they greatly appreciated.  The stewed fruit that did not make it into the bars will be a nice treat in my lunch bag this week.

You will have to excuse me, but after watching 12 episodes of the Sopranos this past week I couldn’t help but think that they really should put out a cookbook featuring the great-sounding recipes that get feasted upon in each episode.  For a lark I googled Sopranos cookbook today and guess what I found?

Who would have thought.

Black Bean Skillet Casserole with Cornbread Topping

1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 1/2 cups firm cooked black beans
1/4 cup of water
1 small red pepper, diced
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1 large celery stalk, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
1/2 jalapeno, thinly sliced
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt to taste

For the cornbread topping

1 1/4 cups of yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup of whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup of soymilk powder (I used skim milk powder)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup of corn, fresh, frozen defrosted, or canned
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 cup water
1/3 cup corn oil

  • Preheat oven to 375°C
  • In an 8-10 inch cast iron skillet, heat the oil.  Saute onions garlic until tender.
  • Stir in the beans, water, pepper, carrot, celery, cilantro, jalapeno, and salt.  Saute for a few more minutes and then remove from heat and set aside.
  • For the cornbread topping, combine cornmeal, flour, soy powder, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  Add the corn kernels.
  • In a small bowl whisk maple syrup, water, and corn oil together.
  • Add the wet to the dry and stir until just mixed.
  • Pour topping over the bean mixture.
  • Bake on the middle rack for about 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cornbread comes out clean
  • Cut into wedges and lift out with a large serving spoon.

Click to print

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11 responses to “The Sopranos and Lorna Sass: Black Bean Skillet Casserole with Cornbread Topping

  1. Oh Yummy!
    I think I am going to try this tonight!
    I’ll be using the Gluten free flour tho’
    exciting!

  2. Oh it is SOOOO Yummy!
    We both loved it too!
    My skillet wasn’t quite big enough so just b/4 I added the topping I transfered it all to a glass baking pan – worked out just fine! next time, which will be so b/c it is So Good, I’m going to try loaf pans for a slightly thicker crust!
    Thanks Chica!

  3. I know I would love this. Vanja HATES cornbread anything. I have been working at maturing his palate… but, not with great success. Recipes like this… with such great photos make me whine and whimper at him. Looks fantastic!

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  5. Thanks for the inspiration Kelley!
    I made both the casserole and the upside down cake tonight.
    When I checked my cupboards before hand, I thought I saw a can of black beans, so I didn’t buy any more. Lo and behold, it was actually a can of kidney beans. I also didn’t have a cast iron skillet, so I transferred to two correll baking dishes. It was delicious, even with the kidney beans, maybe even especially with the kidney beans!
    I made the cake in my favourite new bunt pan, and it turned out very pretty. I’m about to sit down for tea and cake with Kevin now.
    Thanks for keeping my kitchen inspired!
    xoxo – Linda

    • Fantastic. That is great that you liked it.

      I am glad to know the cake worked out in a bundt pan. I wondered if it would.

      See you very soon

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  7. Black beans are so versatile – it’s the best! Throw some killer cornbread into the mix and you’ve got a match made in heaven! Awesome recipe – looking forward to trying it out!

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