Another post from my friend, Amanda!
Aaaand we’re back with another one! But in case you missed the first, I’m Amanda, reporting with another one of my go-to meals prepared in my teeny-weeny NYC kitchen. Unlike the first, which was inspired from way too many Thai dinners and late night take-out, this one has a little history….in addition to the nutritional stamp of approval (woop woop!). This recipe was born from my mom, and my mom’s mom, and my dad’s mom, and all their moms too. You get the point. I wish I could take credit for this one because it’s good, real good, and a snap to put together during the week.
For as long as I can remember, black beans and rice have always been a staple in my house. I remember them fondly on Tuesday nights after school, at Little Havana Restaurant for Sunday family dinners and at almost every Jewish holiday. Because that’s how we roll – a little brisket, a little kugel and a little black beans. Today, if they’re an option on a menu it’s pretty much guaranteed I’ll order them, ignoring the enticing apps and entrees, and instead take the nostalgic trip back to my childhood…except now with a margarita to wash it down.
Now some of you may think that black beans and rice can’t possibly make a complete meal. Au contraire my friends. My version conveniently comes packed protein, vegetables, fiber, yadda, yadda, yadda – a complete protein they say! (I don’t know who said that but you have Google, so I’m sure you can figure out if it’s true). And it’s lucky for me that they boast such nutritious qualities because I’m pretty sure I would be eating them regardless. Oh, and if this little “healthy” sound bite didn’t convince you, I made them for my highly skeptical carnivore-of-a-boyfriend last week for dinner as a MEAL, not a side. Not only did he complement the product of my hard work in the kitchen, but mid-way through his bowl, he stopped to exclaim how filling they were. Unprompted, I swear. I nearly keeled over with joy.
Now before you scroll down to the list of ingredients, I have a HUGE disclaimer to make. The version I made most recently, and the recipe you’ll see down below, is not the most traditional one out there so please black bean purists, don’t get your panties in a bunch (I’m just going to assume that black bean purists exist somewhere out there). This is my variation that I chose to do that day and I’ll likely make another variation next week. For those of you that want to experience the full black bean tradition, please refer to the back of a can of Goya black beans (I swear!). And even better, refer to the back of a bag of Goya dried black beans. I’m telling you, Goya knows what’s up.
Just to give you some peace of mind, this version starts with a sofrito, or a mixture of onion, garlic, green pepper and tomato. Which is pretty much the same base of every black bean recipe that exists. I just added a few things here in there to my liking. Feel free to do the same. Oh and one last thing – you can substitute any bean you like here. Baby lima beans (the dried version) happen to be another personal favorite. But that’s another blog post. Now get cookin’!
2 cans of black beans
1 yellow onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large carrot, diced
1 leek, cleaned and thinly sliced
2 tbsp. tomato paste
Pinch of sugar
1 tsp. cumin
1 bay leaf
½ tsp. dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
1 c. rice, cooked
Use whatever you want here!
1. Heat up a couple teaspoons of olive oil in a dutch oven or large pot. Sautee the onion and peppers until soft and about halfway through, add the garlic so to prevent it from burning.
2. Toss in the diced carrot and leek and let cook down for another 5-10 min.
3. Add in the tomato paste, sugar and all your spices and continue cooking until everything sort of looks like one big vegetable mush (I know, ew, but trust me this is part of it). Add in some water here and there to prevent the veggies from burning or sticking to the pot.
4.Once everything has cooked down, add your black beans, liquid and all, to the pot and let simmer for an additional 20-25 min so all the flavors can meld.
5. I like to use a hand blender and partially blend the beans and veggies up just to give it a heartier texture.
6. Serve over rice and add any toppings you like!