There must be as many recipes for beans and rice on this planet as there are abuelitas. I can picture her now, heading home down a narrow, unpaved road in a small pueblo, a dog running nearby; carrying groceries in a reused plastic bag. Scolding children along her way, perhaps. Greeting neighbors.
She has just come from church where she has lit candles and prayed. This women is the backbone of her community. She holds her family together – through strength, prayer, presence and yes, through food.
I have met this woman and I love her. She defines ‘salt of the earth’ and epitomizes what it means to serve one another. She is modest; she is frugal; she is wise.
Beans and rice. The most humble of foods.
Beans and rice. Served at every Cuban table and throughout the Latin world.
Beans and rice. A dish whose name bears centuries of history and tradition.
Here’s what you need: (This make enough to feed a huge crowd! Cut the recipe in half to fill a huge bowl like the one pictured above.)
1 ½ C dried black beans
¼ C olive oil
2 ½ C chopped green pepper (or red pepper)
2 ½ C chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 t cumin
1 t oregano
2 bay leaves
3 T white vinegar
2 T tomato paste
2 t salt
1 t black pepper
4 ½ C vegetable or chicken stock (the best quality)
3 C long grain white rice
Here’s what you do:
Cover the dry beans with 4 cups of water in a 2 quart pan. Do not add salt at this point. Bring to a full boil and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and allow to sit for one hour.
After an hour, drain and rinse the beans. Cover with fresh water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook until tender – about 40 minutes. Drain and set aside.
In a large pot or Dutch oven sauté the peppers and onions in the olive oil until tender. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the spices, tomato paste, vinegar and beans. Stir gently and cook for a few minutes. Do not add salt at this point.
Rinse the rice thoroughly until the water runs clear. Add the rice to the pot. Pour the stock over the beans and rice. Stir, bring to a simmer, cover and cook gently for about 20 minutes – or until the rice is fully cooked.
Season with salt and pepper. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, fresh limes, cilantro, avocado, tortillas and love.