I love eating meals consisting of beans and rice. They’re wholesome, they’re hearty, and together, they become a complete protein, which is handy when meat has become altogether unappealing, as it has in the last few months for me. So this is our version of the Cuban-inspired dish, which may not be perfectly authentic, but is (as my dad often says) “delish, nutrish, makes ya feel ambish!”
Black Beans and Rice
And for the record, sacrilegious and unconventional as it may be, I’ve discovered that a bowl of leftover black beans and rice topped with feta cheese will make me smile all afternoon!
For the Beans
- 1 cup dried black beans
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1/4 yellow onion
- pinch chili flakes
- olive oil
The day before cooking, soak the dried beans by placing them in a bowl and covering them with a couple inches of water. Leave on the counter to soak over night.
The next day, pour off the soaking water and give the beans a rinse. Place the soaked beans in a heavy-bottomed pot and, again, cover with a couple inches of water. Add the garlic, chili and onion. Bring to a gentle simmer, skimming any scum that rises to the top. Simmer until fully cooked. Remove from the heat and season with salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Set aside.
Finishing the Beans
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 yellow onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- healthy pinch of chili flake
- 1/2 teaspoon mortared coriander seed
- 1/2 of a 14-ounce can of whole, peeled, tomatoes plus 2 Tablespoons of the juice
- 2 Tablespoons sherry vinegar
- salt to taste
Using an 8 to 10-inch saute pan set over low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook gently, covered, until it is mostly translucent. Add the garlic, chili flake, coriander seed, and tomato, breaking up the tomato with the back of a wooden spoon. Continue to cook, covered until soft.
Using a slotted spoon, lift the black beans out of their cooking liquid and add them to the onion mixture. Add a little bit of the cooking liquid if the onions have begun to dry out. Pour in the vinegar and cook gently, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes. Taste for salt.
For the Rice
Use the water to rice ratio that comes with the specific rice you are using. The brown Basmati rice I use calls for 2 cups water per 1 cup of rice, however, I always use about a 1/4 cup less water than is called for because I like the firmer texture. That being said, you can, of course, use white rice, so long as it’s a long-grain variety. And while I’m at it- a couple notes about the rice…1) using a short-grain rice here will be utterly disappointing because short-grain rice cooks up fairly sticky. You’ll want the rice grains in this dish to be dry and separate. 2) If you’d like to try to get more brown rice into your diet, I highly recommend trying long-grain brown rice. I find the texture to be light and pleasant, similar to that of it’s white counterpart. The only brown rice I knew as a kid was the shorter-grained variety and I grew to detest that gummy mass that found it’s way to my plate!
- 1/4 yellow onion, minced
- 1 teaspoon tomato paste
- 1 cup long-grain brown rice (I use brown Basmati)
- 1 Tablespoon butter, divided
- 2 sprigs marjoram, chopped
- 3 sprigs parsley, chopped
In a small, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat, melt 1/2 Tablespoon of butter. Add the onion and cook gently until it is translucent. Stir in the tomato paste and continue to cook for about 2 minutes. Pour in the rice and stir for about 2 minutes, coating it with the onion-tomato mixture. Add the correct amount of water and bring to a simmer. Add salt to the simmering mixture and taste the liquid to be sure that the amount of salt is correct. Immediately turn the heat down to low, cover with a lid, and cook until the rice is done, based on the package instructions. When the rice is fully cooked (I always peek), turn off the heat and allow the rice to rest, covered for at least 10 minutes. Stir in the remaining butter and chopped herbs.
Bringing it all together
Place a spoonful of rice on the plate and top with the beans! We love to add avocado and sometimes I’ll cook up a batch of garlicky chard or spinach to serve along side. And sometimes when we’re feeling bad, we’ll cook the whole thing in bacon fat instead of butter and olive oil- and that’s a treat!