Wednesday, August 4, 2010

CSA 13: Rice and Beans

Growing up I was never a particularly picky eater, but I often found food at home to be boring.  My mom still laughs when she tells stories of me going over other people’s houses for dinner and coming home amazed at the wonderful foods other people ate, like Brussels sprouts and sauerkraut.

By the time I was a teenager I was on my own for most meals, and was a rather uninspired cook, settling on rather common, and often processed foods.  But at school I would hear classmates rave about the food in their homes.  Curried goat and rice and beans were two constants that so many of my peers raved about.  At first both sounded gross to me – who eats goat?!?!?  But after years of hearing how great they were I had my dad buy me a box of Goya rice & beans.  It instantly became a staple in my diet.  It was years before I had curried goat – now one of my favorite meals – but rice and beans was an instant classic.  For me, it is the quintessential comfort food. 

It’s also ridiculously good for you.  Rice and beans together form a perfect protein.  Both rice and beans individually are good sources of incomplete protein – each containing 7 & 8 amino acids, respectively.  But together they have all 9 essential amino acids.  And since I use brown rice, there’s a nice serving of whole grains, and of course beans are an excellent source of fiber.  Plus I always cook my beans with a load of vegetables (this was my first time adding chard – I figured I had it, so why not?) so really it becomes a balanced meal.  And even with the addition of cheese, and the butter in cooking, its still very low fat.

The only problem I have with rice and beans is that I no longer find boxed, pre-packaged, processed foods acceptable, so goodbye Goya box ‘o rice and beans.  And I really hate making rice. I know I could just get a rice cooker… or use instant rice (I tend to use the “boil in the bag” brown rice these days…) but then it just puts the focus on cooking the beans. Canned beans are great but there is a question about the safety of canned foods.  Dried beans are best, if you have 8 hours to spare to slow cook them that is.  So as a result rice and beans is not only my favorite food, but it’s a treat I don’t often make for myself.

But every time I do, I can’t help but smile.  I don’t even consider it a side dish as so many people do; I enjoy a big plate of rice and beans as a meal in of itself.  And making one of my favorite dishes seemed like the best way to use my home grown peppercino, a tiny pepper I wanted to highlight.

Rice & Beans
Brown rice
1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
½ red onion, diced
1 green long pepper, diced
1 red peppercino, chopped
1 clove garlic, smashed
2 leaves of chard, chopped
Olive oil & butter
1/3 cup shredded cheese

Make the rice according to directions, being mindful that the beans take about 20 minutes to make, so get your timing right.
Melt the butter in the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until soft.  Add the green pepper, garlic and chard and cook another few minutes. Season with the Adobo.  Add the beans and the peppercino, cover and just let it cook, stirring occasionally. If you like your beans really squishy, add about ¼ cup of broth and cook for longer.  I like my beans firm so I let them cook about 10 minutes.
Once everything is done layer rice, cheese, then beans and enjoy the perfect meal.


  1. 1--if you soak the dry beans (put them in water in early AM--soak 8 + hours) they cook pretty quick-(under 1 hour for most beans) when you get home in PM.

    2--if you heat beans to boiling, then turn off water, you can use a 1 hour soak--

    neither is as fast as opening a can--

    and--curiously, i rarely served curry when you were a child (vegetarian or meat curry) because you and your brother objected! Ok-- it was chicken or lamb curry--not goat--but no one was interested in eating curry at the time.

  2. You make Indian style curry, I'm talking about island style. And the goat part is key. I like other curries just fine, but "curried goat" is a very specific food.