Nine time out of ten the beans are prepared dried beans cooked in water until soft, and then seasoned with onion, garlic and salt. But everybody likes a bit of varietyonce in a while, even those very conservative Brazilians who will tell you that they eat rice and beans every day, in the same style.
One unusual and unexpectedly delicious way to serve beans at any meal is this recipe for pureed beans flavored with coconut milk, which comes from the north-eastern state of Pernambuco. It can be made quick thick, sort of like Mexican-style refried beans, or with additional liquid can become a thinner puree - the choice is yours. Obviously, additional coconut milk will not only thin out the pureed-bean mixture, but it will also crank up the coconut flavor in the dish. If you want a thinner puree, but don't want to increase the flavor of coconut, you can use some of the water the beans were cooked in. See the photos accompanying this post to see the results of using less liquid (above) or more (below).
You can serve this dish, plus the obligatory plain white rice, alongside a nice piece of grilled fish, a thin steak or slice of pot roast, or a piece of roast chicken. To make it a perfect copy of a Brazilian meal, just add the piece of lettuce and slice of tomato to the plate and make sure there's some type of hot sauce on the table.
RECIPE - Pureed Beans with Coconut Milk (Feijão de Coco)
3 cups precooked dried beans (pinto beans are best, but other types can be used)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup coconut milk, canned or home-made
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
salt to taste
chopped cilantro to garnish (optional)
Drain the precooked beans, reserving their cooking liquid if desired. Put them in a blender or food processor along with the chopped onion, the coconut milk and the olive oil. Blend for about one minute at high speed, or until you have a completely homogenous mixture. Check for consistency and if it is too thick add additional coconut milk or some of the reserved cooking liquid and blend again for a few seconds.
Pour into a heavy sauce pan and cook over medium low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid burning on the bottom and adding additional liquid as needed. Remove from heat.
Season with salt to taste. Spoon into a decorative serving bowl and sprinkle with chopped cilantro if desired. Serve hot.