Recipe Week Four
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
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…
The minimum essential ingredients for this salsa are
lime (and/or lemon) juice
useful but not absolutely necessary are
nice to have if you want to get fancy are
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.