Saturday, October 4, 2008

Red Beans and Rice

I know that the beans are traditionally served on top of the rice, but I really prefer to mix mine in as I am cooking the dish. It helps to blend the flavors. I have made this dish several times. Once, following the recipe exactly, the others with a bit of improv. The recipe is actually from The Great American Detox Diet, by Alex Jamieson. Her book is very fascinating, and I think it would be a good read even if you don't plan on following it. We are partial "detoxers". I've made several of her recipes and health issues aside, they have each tasted wonderful. She has a great cold and flu tea that I swear got me through last years flu season unscathed.

Ok, back to this dish. Each component of the dish is cooked seperatly with different herbs and spices. When they are all combined at the end it results in a very nice layering of flavors. The intensity of these flavors seems so surprising, since the dish itself is very simple. Another aspect that I really like about the meal is that it is very versitile; it can be vegan, vegetarian (if you add a bit of cheese at the end), or an omnivor's dish by adding meat or cooking your rice in chicken broth. I think that chopped chicken would be a nice addition if you want to add some meat in. I really love flexible dishes like this. I am always drawn to them.

Next time I may use this as a stuffing for squash, or make a clear broth and have soup.


15 oz can red kidney beans (1 1/3 C. cooked dry beans) drained & rinsed
4 TBS extra virgin olive oil
2 C chopped onion (red and vadalia both work)
3 gloves of garlic, minced
2 bay leafs
2 C. chicken or vegetable stock (I use water and then add buillion paste)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp ground mustard
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1-2 C. any other vegetable you want to add (zucchini tends to be my preference, though I didn't add any this time. Roasted squash might be nice, too.)

-Cook rice as package directs, using broth instead of water for extra flavor

-When the rice has about 10 minutes left:

-Cook beans in 1 C. water with red pepper flakes, oregano & a dash of cayanne (if you want to spice it up a bit more) by boiling water, adding the beans and spices, and then turning down to a simmer.

- Heat extra virgin olive oil in a skillet. Add onion & garlic with thyme & ground mustard. Add the remaining chopped vegetables. Cook until tender. About 10 minutes over medium heat.

-Drain the beans after 10 minutes.

-Combine, rice, vegetables & beans. Serve warm.