Recipe Week Four

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

My Favorite Meal

My Favorite Meal

At first I wasn’t going to post this recipe because it seems so basic that it didn’t seem worth it, but then I decided that just because something is basic to me doesn’t mean that it’s basic to everyone, and also I eat this all the time, so it seems like I should put it up early and get it over with.

I think this is probably second only to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as the meal I’ve eaten most in my life. (PB&J has to be the clear winner, as I took that for lunch every day — every day — throughout all of elementary, middle, and high school. Every now and then my mom would say, “Are you sure you don’t want me to make you a different kind of sandwich?” But I never did.)

I started making this dish when I lived in an off-campus house my senior year in college when I had limited cooking skills and no income. I would cook the beans and rice, and then mix with sour cream and bottled salsa (Frito-Lay/Tostito’s salsa, which was then and is still now my favorite) and stir it all together to make a big tomato-y, sour cream-y, soup-y mess. Didn’t look so good but tasted great.

I don’t generally keep bottled salsa around anymore and it’s much cheaper to make salsa fresca at home, so that’s usually what I do now.

It’s definitely a very flexible dish, you can add different vegetables (or leave them out), add leftover chicken or other meats, use different spices, serve with different kinds of rice (white, brown, jasmine, long grain, short grain), etc. You can use canned beans or cook them yourself if you want to save money and reduce sodium.

Usually I get about four meals out of one can of beans. I serve it over rice for one or two meals, and then put it in a tortilla for a burrito for one or two meals. Sometimes I add cheese or drained yogurt (or sour cream if I have it, but I’d rather buy yogurt, it tastes almost as good and I can eat it for breakfast — if I buy sour cream, I have to keep thinking of things to use the rest of the sour cream in) or make scrambled eggs and add that to the tortilla with the beans.

This time, avocados happened to be exceptionally cheap at Compare — $0.69 each — so I picked up one of those along with the tomatoes for the salsa and the green pepper. I also had some leftover chicken from the roasted drumsticks I made at the end of Week Three. The avocado wasn’t quite ripe when I cooked this, so Meal One (pictured) was black beans and rice with salsa plus chicken, and Meals Two and Three were black beans and rice with salsa plus avocado.

[Full report on what I bought and ate in Week Four coming soon. I had a work trip Sunday and Monday and a bunch of things to do to get ready for that, so I’m still a little off schedule but hoping to get caught up. Soon.]

Since this is a recipe I make all the time and is not really based on any recipe I’ve ever read, it’s going to be a little vague. You should adjust to suit your tastes.

Black Beans and Rice

1-3 tsp olive oil (or other kind of cooking oil)
1-2 cloves crushed or minced garlic
1 small-to-medium onion
1 medium-to-large green pepper
1 can black beans, or 1-2 cups home-cooked black beans
spices to taste: salt, pepper, cayenne, chili powder, crushed red pepper, cumin, oregano
approx. 1 cup cooked rice per person

Put the garlic through a garlic press or chop fine. Chop the onion and green pepper into small-to-medium sized pieces.

Put the olive oil (enough to coat the pan) into a skillet or frying pan (I use a cast iron skillet) and heat over medium-high heat.

When the oil is heated, add the garlic and onions, and cook until the onion is translucent. Add the green pepper and cook for a few minutes (this is sort of a personal preference thing — I like my green peppers not overly cooked) then add the beans and season to taste. Usually I add salt if I’m using home-cooked or no-salt-added beans — most canned beans have plenty of salt already –plus black pepper, cayenne, chili powder, and crushed red pepper .

Turn the heat down to medium and heat the beans through and let the flavors meld.

If you’re using white rice, start the rice before you start chopping the vegetables and the rice and beans will be done at about the same time. If you’re using brown rice, you should either start it ahead of time, or plan on letting the beans stay warm on the stove while the rice finishes cooking.

Serve the beans over the rice, and top with…

Salsa Fresca

The minimum essential ingredients for this salsa are

chopped onion
chopped tomato
lime (and/or lemon) juice

useful but not absolutely necessary are

crushed garlic

nice to have if you want to get fancy are

jalapeno pepper

Combine the garlic, chopped onion, and chopped tomato. Squeeze fresh lime juice or use lime juice you have saved in a small jar in the freezer. (Put the jar in a bowl of warm water to thaw, or run hot water over the jar to melt the outside so you can pour some out.)

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add chopped cilantro and chopped jalapeno, if desired.

The proportions should be adjusted to meet your taste — more or less onion, tomato, garlic, lime juice. A little jalapeno or a lot. After you’ve made it a few tmes you’ll figure out what you like best.

9 Responses to “Recipe Week Four”

  1. Sharon Says:

    There’s a favorite Indian dish similar to this. It’s
    Plain Yogurt
    Small dab of toku all mixed together

    The toku is generally referred to as a pickle which it is, but it’s really more along the lines of a spicey savory chutney. here are some examples and more info.

  2. fivecats Says:

    chopped cilantro is an essential to homemade salsa.

  3. lessisenough Says:

    Au contraire, mon frere.

    Tomatoes, onions and lime juice are essential to homemade salsa. Cilantro is optional.

  4. Lorrie Says:

    I agree. I don’t like cilantro. But, who cares as long as it tastes good to the ones eating it? :)

  5. Susanne Says:

    This was really good — and I’m not a bean fan (I don’t actively dislike them, just not mad keen for them either). I added the lime juice & plenty of fresh cilantro (I grow a variety of herbs in pots in my sunroom altho I have to fight the cats for them), & cheated with a drizzle of sour cream over the whole mess & ate it rolled in a tortilla w/ sliced avocado. Lots of leftovers, which is good. I’ll make it again, definitely. Thanks!

  6. lessisenough Says:

    Glad you liked it!

    Avocadoes and sour cream are definitely good additions. And cilantro too, though generally I can take or leave cilantro. I like it, but it bugs me to use so little of it, so unless I know I have a few different things to make with it and know I’ll use most of it, I often skip it.

  7. Lorrie Says:

    I cooked up some black beans and brown rice yesterday. My son wants some “carnitas” (slow cooked pork with spices ala Chipotle) with it, so I’m going to slow cook some pork today. I can hardly wait to try the recipe.

  8. Lorrie Says:

    I made your recipe for dinner and it was a resounding success. My kids liked the salsa fresca so much I had to make another batch. I also served the slow cooked shredded pork that my son had requested. My son had the beans, brown rice, pork, salsa and sour cream in a tortilla. My daughter (who can’t eat beans) had the pork, rice, salsa and sour cream in a tortilla. Both kids had two helping — they are teenagers! I had the beans over brown rice with salsa and sour cream and my husband had the bean, pork and salsa over rice with no sour cream. It was a wonderful dinner that make everyone happy. I was going to make corn muffins to go with it, but I forgot, and when I remembered it was a little too late. So thanks for a marvelous recipe with endless variations! I will be making this again. I used regular parsley instead of cilantro.

  9. lessisenough Says:

    Excellent! Corn muffins would be a great addition.

    It’s also good for breakfast with scrambled eggs and cheese in a tortilla.

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