Tuesday, February 1, 2011

On Nights We're Paupers....Spanish Rice & Black Beans

This meal holds sentimental value to me.  My mother in law made this meal the first weekend my husband took me home to meet his family. That was 11 years ago and we still love it! One weekend in college, my husband tried to make it with his roommates and missed a step. The beans ended up being disastrous on our GI system--and a small crowd of 6-8 of us all suffered. I've never forgotten that weekend. And now I'm really careful when cooking beans (ha!).

If you want to go the long route in cooking beans from scratch, here's a great article on the myths of soaking and salting beans and also how to properly cook them. This meal is healthy, affordable, and it's a surprising crowd pleaser. My mother in law makes the beans in a crock pot, but I've adapted the recipe to make it faster to prepare on an everyday evening. So I'm sharing this recipe in case you are like myself and most moms trying to find a meal for your family that is both fast to prepare and healthy. If you want a from-scratch recipe for yellow rice (and want to avoid MSG), see Emeril's recipe here. But below is the cheater's version :)

You will be surprised at how something so simple can be so good!

Serves 4

For beans:
2 cans black beans, undrained
2 garlic cloves
1-2 tsp. olive oil (or chili-flavored olive oil)
1-2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
OPTIONAL spices--a couple dashes of any or all of these: cumin, marjoram, cayenne pepper, oregano, chili powder

10 oz (you can buy 2 (5oz) pkgs) of (saffron) yellow rice (some brands are Mahatma, Vigo, or Goya)

1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 tomatoes, diced
Shredded mexican cheese and/or light sour cream (OPTIONAL)

Cook rice according to package directions. While rice is cooking, in a medium cooking pot over low heat, lightly saute the garlic in the olive oil for a minute or two. Add both undrained cans of black beans, Worcestershire sauce, and any spices you are using.

Continue to cook over low heat, stirring every so often to prevent beans from sticking to the bottom of the pan. You can mash part of the beans or leave them whole. Turn off the flame and cover to keep warm.

To serve, place rice on each plate, top with black beans, green onions, tomatoes, and any cheese or sour cream you are using.

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