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Saturday, May 01, 2010

Variations on Rice and Beans for Tight Times

Seasonal Recipe of the Week
If we are concerned about saving money, they we should all be eating more beans and grains. They are a great, cheap source of protein. Black beans and rice are a staple of cheap and cheerful college cooking. You can make a huge batch and freeze it in single-serving bags and then pop it into the microwave as needed. They are nutritious and filling and go a long way.

Ingredients
1 cup uncooked rice (I like brown basmati, but white is more traditional)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced (for added flavor you can roast the red bell peppers first)
3 cloves minced garlic
2 16-ounce cans of black beans, rinsed and drained, organic are cheap
2 Tbsp white vinegar
A few dashes of Tabasco
1 teaspoon dried oregano or 1 heaping Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
Lime wedges and cilantro for garnish

Procedure
Cook rice according to package instructions. Heat oil in a large skillet on medium high. Sauté onions and bell peppers for 3-4 minutes, until just beginning to soften, then add garlic and sauté a minute more. Add the black beans, vinegar and Tabasco. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in rice and oregano. Add salt and pepper to taste. This can easily go from a side dish to a main course with the addition of a little sausage, some pulled chicken or pork if you need meat to feel full.

Variations
If you are feeling exotic, replace some of the water you use to cook the rice with unsweetened coconut milk, or almond milk, or miso broth, or veggie stock. Substitute or add: red beans, black lentils, pinto beans, brown rice, Cajun spices, jalapeno, or chipotle. Or just skip the meal all together and have a cocktail. Did I really suggest that?