Meatless Monday: Pulse Innovation Miami -- It's a Whole New World

Happy Columbus Day, when we celebrate the man who discovered . . beans. And, oh, yeah, America. With beans, though, Christopher Columbus knew he was on to something. He tasted them in Cuba and in America, where the natives grew them. Columbus was impressed. Pulses (dried beans) were among the New World foods Columbus brought back to Europe for show and tell and for cultivation. Smart move.

This year, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has been making like Columbus, bringing pulses to the people for the International Year of Pulses with a series of pulse feasts, pulse calls to action and pulse-centric events including -- ta-da -- Pulse Innovation Miami.

Undaunted by hurricanes, Pulse Innovation Miami is happening at Florida International University's very innovative Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, it's an edible exploration of pulses, from how they sustain the planet and you to how they rock a kitchen. It's the Lollapalooza of legumes.

I know, you're thinking, beans, what's the big deal? Pulses are nature's little powerhouses of plant-based protein, that's what. They're cheap, sustaining and sustainable, low carbon, low water, high yield. Beans are among the first crops we cultivated -- score one for mankind. And from Egyptian ful to Cuban black beans, every culture, every cuisine has a bean recipe that satisfies the belly and stretches the budget.

We unpack it all at Pulse Innovation Miami, starting with the keynote talk from American Pulse Association CEO Tim McGreevy.

Eco-entrepreneur Brian Machovina and globe-trotting sustainability pro Eric Von Wettberg, who even now is at the International Legume Society conference in Lisbon talk how pulses have shaped our past and our future.

I join nutritionist Robyn Webb and Cordon Bleu chef Carolina Molea to present on pulses for personal wellness and global appeal.

UN Pulse Chef Ron Pickarski (and culinary Olympian) shows how beans can rock a kitchen with a pulse demo followed by an innovative seven-course pulse tasting menu. In his hands, pulses are a whole new world.

Come taste the thrill of discovery at Pulse Innovation Miami.

Discover -- or rediscover -- the power of pulses. Celebrate the International Year of Pulses everywhere. Take the Pulse Pledge.


Cuban Black Beans

A beloved South Florida staple, Cuban black beans keep covered and refrigerated for several days, and like many pulse dishes, the flavors deepen and improve over time.
Mas sabor, muy bueno et es buena para el corazon. Pulses are good for your heart.

4 cups black beans, cooked or 2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic
1 jalapeno, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon paprika, sweet or smoked
1/2 teaspoon dried epazote or oregano
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup vegetable broth or bean cooking liquid
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
optional -- a handful of fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion, stirring occasionally until onions begin to turn golden and translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the chopped garlic, jalapeno, red pepper, carrot and celery. Continue cooking for another 5 minutes, or until all the vegetables soften. Add the cumin, coriander, paprika, epazote, tomato paste and vegetable broth. Then pour in the cooked black beans, stirring to combine.

Splash in the vinegar and bring beans to a low boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Give the beans about half an hour to simmer and get to know the vegetables and spices they're cooking with.

Season generously with sea salt and pepper and sprinkle with optional chopped cilantro for garnish.

Serves 6.

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