Skip to content

A new kind of Rice and Beans

August 31, 2009

Rice and Beans

This post is especially for my brother, Patrick, who is newly independent, and who loves cooking as much as I do.

I have been making and eating rice and beans for a long, long time. It’s probably the first thing I learned to cook. It is comfort food, it is day-before-the-paycheck food, with a little meat thrown it is day-after-the-paycheck food. It can be healthy or over the top and indulgent. I suspect it is the endless versatility of rice and beans that makes me love it so, and come back to it at least once a month.

For a long time I made rice and beans using packaged mixes, like Goya or Mahatma. And I’ll be honest, sometimes I still do. But making rice and beans from scratch is one of the least expensive, easiest dinners around, so the box mixes aren’t really worth it, unless you need the sodium fix. And it is great for college students. You can make a big pot for about $5 and it will last you all week. The rice and beans together make a complete protein, so you don’t need to splurge for meat. And you can add all kinds of vegetables to be sure you’re getting your greens.

I usually have a pretty standard recipe, but I got an urge to mix things up a little when I came home from the Whitman College organic garden with a bag full of fresh-from-the-ground produce. And I could not resist picking these up from the supermarket:

Ranch Style Beans

I don’t know if there’s another package in the supermarket as cute as these beans. I had never eaten them before, though one of my old housemates, originally from Texas, always had a can in the pantry. No, they’re not the healthiest thing to throw in the pot and they certainly aren’t organic. But I absolutely loved the saucy tang they gave my otherwise virtuous rice and beans. The other big change from my regular recipe: I added turmeric to the rice, an excellent tip from another old housemate, Christa.

There are also far more vegetables in this than in my usual pot o’ starches. Like these glorious carrots.

Carrots from the organic garden

There weren’t very many carrots in the rice and beans, because those I managed to find in the soil were awfully tiny. But there were also zucchini and tomatoes from my own backyard, and a small yellow pepper, and a green bell pepper, not to mention roasted red peppers from a jar and a potent chipotle. I think the point of this litany is to say that you can really throw in any vegetables you have on hand, and it will likely still be delicious.

Sauteing vegetables for rice and beans

Rice and Beans, Part Two

For the rice

  • 3/4 c. brown rice
  • 1 1/2 c. water
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • a bit of salt

For the beans

  • 1 T. vegetable oil
  • 1 small chile pepper, de-seeded and minced
  • 1 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • about 1/3 c. chopped carrot (perhaps half a full size carrot?)
  • 1 small green pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced
  • 1 c. cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 large roasted red pepper, chopped
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo, chopped
  • 1 14-ounce can of beans, any style (I usually don’t drain them)
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • salt to taste

Mix the rice, water, turmeric, cumin, and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, and lower the heat to simmering. Cook the rice for about 40 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the chile pepper. Saute for about a minute, then add the garlic and green onions. Stir well and saute for about 30 seconds. Then add the carrot and the green bell pepper. Let cook, stirring only once, for about two or three minutes before adding the zucchini. After another minute, add the tomatoes, red pepper, and chipotle. Stir well and let cook for about four or five minutes, until the tomatoes begin to break down. Then stir in the beans, cumin, and salt. Lower the burner to low heat, and let the bean mixture cook while the rice finishes, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick.

Once the rice is ready, stir it into the skillet with the bean mixture. Top with green onions, cilantro, or cheese (yum, cheese). I usually just eat this on its own, with perhaps some tortilla chips for dipping, but you can wrap it up in a flour tortilla and call it a burrito if that will make you feel better.

Fresh Vegetable Rice and Beans

Seriously easy, and very good. This recipe should make enough for three or four meals, unless, like me, you eat half of the pot for dinner because it is just too good not to.

Bookmark and Share

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 20, 2009 9:29 pm

    You just can’t go wrong with beans and rice, in as many incarnations as you feel like. Thanks for posting such great recipes; I tried your butternut squash pasta but I used a Delicata and some egg noodles. The smell of our place is sublime tonight!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: