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Vegetarian Cuban-Style Black Beans and Rice

Monday, 21 June, 2010

Arroz y Frijoles.  Gallo Pinto.  Hoppin’ John.  Whatever name they go by, Beans and Rice are a staple meal throughout Latin America, the Carribean, and many parts of the United States.  It’s easy to see why: this is a meal which is ridiculously inexpensive, easy, and tasty.  The ultimate comfort food, it’s the perfect way to warm your belly on a chilly winter night.   And as a further benefit to my fellow veggies, the combination of beans and rice provides a source of complete protein, as well as a favourable dose of Iron and Vitamin B.

There are countless ways to prepare this dish, but I like to use a variation on the Cuban method.  The Cubans call their dish Platillo Moros y Cristianos and generally add black beans to a simmering and richly flavoured sofrito, or base, and serve over piping hot white rice.  Sofrito is traditionally made with lard and often has a touch of bacon or ham added in, but don’t worry as the recipe below is suitable for vegetarians (vegans, hold off on the cheese or buy a vegan version and you can also enjoy!).

Ingredients:

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 bell peppers, finely chopped
  • 410 grams of chopped tomatoes with chilli (or roughly 1 tin)
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of concentrated tomato puree
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of sugar
  • dash of pepper
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • dash of turmeric
  • 1 tsp hot chilli pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 800 grams of black beans (or roughly 2 tins, or 4 cups cooked)
  • hot sauce of your choice (Cholula is highly recommended if you can find it!)
  • water
  • crumbled queso blanco or shredded mature cheddar cheese (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oil in a large frying pan, and sauté onions, peppers, and garlic for several minutes until the onions are transparent.  Stir in chopped tomatoes, adding in tomato puree to thicken.  Continue stirring in spices, sugar, salt, pepper, and 5-6 tablespoons of water over low heat.  Simmer gently for 20-30 minutes, or until mixture has reduced and thickened but taking care that it does not burn or dry out.  This base is your ‘sofrito’.

After the mixture has simmered, add in black beans, 1/8 cup of water, and a few dashes of hot sauce, and continue cooking on low/medium heat for an additional 5-10 minutes or until it is heated throughout.  Serve over a bead of steamed white rice, with grated cheese and hot sauce on the side.  Serves 4.

Recipe by Megan Hunter

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