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Frijoles Mexicanas.

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A burrito is a delicious food item that breaks down all social barriers and leads to temporary spiritual enlightenment.” 

~Lisi Harrison 

I’m not sure when it happened but somewhere along the way it did. I did not grow up eating beans, legumes, or pulses but have really grown fond of them. All kinds of them. Their flavors mingle with whatever they are cooked in and the result is nothing short of delicious in my humble opinion. Beans themselves are also a super food, two of the many healthful attributes of them in your diet is that they can keep your cholesterol and blood pressure in check. And when combined with rice they create a complete protein. When it comes to finances, the cost of beans and the amount of food they prepare for their cost cannot be beat. Thus said, while I post a lot of meatless recipes on this blog I am not  vegetarian (I eat meat on my job), though I haven’t purchased meat for home consumption in some time. Anyhow, I’m getting off topic. This is a really simple recipe which can be altered to suit your personal tastes. I ate these (two days in a row) over brown rice and topped with avocado, diced tomato and raw onion. Not only was it a complete protein it was a complete meal, and a filling and delicious one at that. Some of the remainder of the beans will be frozen in increments, and another portion will be turned into refried beans. The simple recipes are below.

Frijoles Mexicanas

Makes about 8 cups

1 pound dried pinto beans

¼ cup olive oil

1 onion, diced

1 bell pepper, diced

2 jalapeño peppers, minced

2 chipotle in adobo (with sauce), minced

4 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons chili powder

2 tablespoons ground cumin

1 (28oz) can diced tomatoes

8 cups chicken or vegetable broth

2 teaspoons salt

Place the beans in a large bowl and pour cold water over them, covering the beans by at least two inches. Cover the bowl and allow the beans to soak overnight. The next day drain the beans and discard the water.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy pot, then add the onion, bell pepper, and jalapeño peppers. Cook the onion and pepper for a few minutes, until they just begin to brown, then add the chipotle with the sauce, the garlic, chili powder, and cumin. Stir while cooking for a couple minutes. Add the diced tomatoes then bring them to a boil. Cook the tomatoes for a few minutes to concentrate some of their juices and flavors. Add the soaked and drained beans to the pot, along with the broth and salt. Bring to a boil, then lower to a slow simmer. Simmer the beans for about two hours, or until very tender. Stir the pot often and skim as needed.

Refried Beans

Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet. Carefully add a quantity of prepared Frijoles Mexicanas to the skillet. Bring to a simmer. Toss and stir the beans until the liquid evaporates and the beans begin to fry in the oil. Remove the beans form the heat and allow them to cool for a couple minutes for safety. Then transfer them to a food processor and process until smooth.

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Mediterranean-Style “Golden” Rice-and-Beans

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Okay, so first a couple things. The recipe for this exact dish pictured is at the bottom of this post, but what I really wanted to show here is the method in which to make this; the flavorings and seasonings are interchangeable. Rice-and-beans, of course, are a staple in many cultures around the world. What makes this version truly bursting with flavor is it’s use of sofrito, a sort of seasoning blend made with caramelized onion, peppers, tomato, garlic, and spices. And versions of sofrito can be found in many areas of the world as well, but what makes this Mediterranean are the spices that I used…turmeric, Lebanese seven-spice mix (click here for the recipe), smoked paprika, and saffron. The combination of all of these things gives this dish not only an intoxicating aroma, but also it’s beautiful golden hue. Rice-and-beans on their own are a complete protein, this is how so many people around the world survive of various combinations of this, and this is why this is also a valuable combination for vegans and vegetarians. While the recipe below is not vegetarian (I used chicken broth) it can be if you use vegetable broth. Inversely, one can easily add chicken, seafood, pork, or even lamb to this dish. I also used brown rice rather than white so it contains more vitamins, but this is also why the longer cooking time. Anyhow, here’s how to make it…


Begin by making the sofrito, Heat olive oil in a pot and add diced onion and pepper. Cook them somewhat slowly until they are very cooked and begin to brown slightly. Then add minced garlic and cook that for a few minutes.

Then add whatever herbs or spices you may be using.

Then add tomato. This time of year I use tomato paste because it is already concentrated, but in the summer when my garden is full I often us fresh ripe tomato but have to cook it a bit longer to concentrate the flavors.

Continue to cook the vegetables and spices over moderately low heat until everything is soft and cooked and concentrated. Below is the complete sofrito.

Add the rice and stir it to coat it with the oil and sofrito.

Then add simmering broth. Bring the liquid to a boil, then lower it to a simmer. Cover the pot and cook the rice for 30-50 minutes (depending on the brand). Do not stir the rice. If using white rice, cook it for 18-20 minutes. 

Check the rice, and about 5 or 10 minutes before it is finished add cooked beans or lentils without stirring. After the rice has cooked, remove it from the heat and allow it to rest (without stirring) for about 5 minutes.

Just before serving, fluff the rice and gently fold in the beans.

Golden Brown Rice-and-Beans 

 Makes 4-6 portions

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, diced

1 red bell pepper

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons turmeric

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 pinch saffron threads

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup brown rice

2-3 cups chicken broth (hot)

1 (15 oz) can white beans, rinsed

Heat the olive oil in a heat pot over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook slowly for about 10 minutes while stirring. When the onion and pepper is very soft and just begins to brown, add the garlic and cook another minute or two. Lower the heat, then stir in the seven-spice mix, turmeric, paprika, salt, and saffron. Cook the spices for just a few seconds then stir in the tomato paste. Cook the vegetables, spices, and tomato paste over low heat for about 5 minutes while stirring. Then add the rice, stirring it into the seasonings, then add 2 ½ cups broth, stirring it in as well. Raise the heat until the liquid boils, then lower it again to a slow simmer. Cover the pot and cook the rice for 30-50 minutes (depending on the brand), or until it is almost done. If the rice needs more liquid, add the remaining broth. Without stirring, add the beans on top of the rice, re-cover the pot, remove it from the heat, and allow it to rest for 5 or 10 minutes. Just before serving, fluff the rice and gently fold in the beans.

Rice with Fish and Other Good Things…

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Okay. So this is good. Really good. Delicious, if I do say so. It’s also relatively easy to make. And of course this recipe–like most that I post here–is not carved in stone. It’s intended to be more of a guide. Interchange, add, or delete ingredients or seasonings that you like, don’t like, or happen to have on hand. It’s more of an idea of how to make a really delicious one-pot meal. Anyhow, if you like fish, try this. You wont be sorry. Did I mention it was delicious?

 

 

Tilapia and Brown Rice with Asparagus, Black Beans, Hot Pepper, Lemon, and Saffron

 

Serves 4

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, diced

1 small carrot, diced

2 ribs celery, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon crushed hot pepper

1 pinch saffron threads

1 cup brown rice

2 ½ cups simmering chicken broth

½ cup lemon juice

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 (15oz can) black beans, drained and rinsed

1 ½ pounds tilapia, diced

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

Heat the olive oil in a heavy pot over medium-high heat, then add the onion, carrot, and celery. Cook the vegetables for a couple minutes while stirring, then add the garlic and cook another minute or so. Stir in the hot pepper and saffron, cook for a minute, then add the rice. Stir the rice to coat it with the oil and seasonings, then stir in the simmering broth, lemon juice, and sea salt. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid, and simmer the rice untouched for about 30 minutes. After thirty minutes check the rice. It should be nearly done. If it is not add additional broth. Then layer the beans, tilapia, and asparagus on top of the rice without stirring and re-cover the pot. Cook the rice for another ten minutes and remove from the heat. Allow the pot to sit for five minutes. Gently fold the beans, asparagus, and fish into the rice just before serving.

Urban Simplicity.

Sometimes this is all I want for dinner…

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Rice-and-beans. Yup, one of my favorite meals. And like pasta (which is my other favorite) the variations are seemingly endless. I had been away for the past few days and had eaten in restaurants the entire time. So today–after an 8 hour train ride that stretched into 11 hrs–I was famished when I came home and all I wanted was comfort food. So this is what I made. I ate a big plate of it with an apple on the side (yum). The only difference between this and the basic recipe below is that in the recipe pictured I also added green bell pepper and a couple tablespoons of curry powder.

Brown Rice-and-Beans

 

Serves four

 

 

3 tablespoons olive oil

 

1 small onion, diced

 

2 cloves garlic, minced

 

1 cup brown rice

 

2 ½ cups broth

 

½ teaspoon salt

 

1 (15 oz.) can beans, rinsed

 

 

Heat the oil in a small sauce pot. Add the onion and sauté for a few minutes, then add the garlic and cook it for another minute or two. Stir in the rice, then the broth and salt. Bring to a boil then lower to a slow simmer. Cover the pot and simmer simmer the rice for about 30 minutes. Add the beans (just lay them on top of the rice; do not stir at this point). If it looks as if too much liquid has evaporated add more. Cover the pot and simmer for another 10 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat—leaving it covered—and allow it to rest for another 5 minutes or so. Remove the lid and gently fold in the beans.