In my quest for new vegetarian recipes I found one for “Gallo Pinto”, a black bean and rice dish which is popular throughout Central America. Here is the original recipe:
- ½ pound dried black beans, soaked and cooked, or an equivalent amount of canned black beans, rinsed
- 3 T vegetable oil
- 1 c uncooked rice
- 1 small onion, minced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- several T sweet or hot pepper, minced
- 2 T of cilantro, minced (optional)
- 1 t cumin (optional)
- 1½ c hot water
- ½ t salt
Remember to soak beans the night before and then cook until very tender, reserving the cooking water. It’s not difficult, and they are so much better than canned beans.
Heat 1 T oil over medium heat, then pan fry the rice, stirring constantly, for a couple of minutes, until shiny. Stir in onion, garlic, peppers, cilantro, and cumin and sauté 2 more minutes. Add hot water, bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat. Simmer without stirring until water has evaporated and rice is cooked, about 25-30 minutes.
Transfer rice to a bowl and add the remaining oil to the pan. When it’s hot, add the rice, beans, and a half cup or so of the reserved bean cooking water, and fry until hot, adding more water as needed to achieve desired consistency. Taste and add more salt, onion, peppers, and/or cilantro to taste.
I had dried black beans on hand so I soaked overnight, rinsed and then cooked in the crockpot with water covering about an inch over the top of the beans. Rather than cook the rice as directed, I cooked it separately in my rice cooker. I skipped the cilantro because none of us like it. I didn’t have any fresh peppers so I diced up a few banana peppers from a jar. I used more seasonings: Creole, chili powder, fresh ground pepper. After sauté-ing the vegetables I then added the cooked rice and sort of stir-fried it for a couple of minutes before adding the cooked beans. I also needed to add some hot water as the rice and bean mixture cooked and adjust the seasonings.
I served it with grated sharp cheddar cheese, sour cream and more banana peppers as toppings. As I side dish I cut up two ripe avocados in wedges, added a roma tomato cut in wedges, drizzled with fresh squeezed lime juice and seasoned with salt and pepper. I mixed this up and refrigerated it a couple of hours before dinner. We also had salad and tortilla chips.
We all agreed that this recipe is a keeper. It was easy and uses ingredients I usually have on hand. I ended up with more cooked beans than I needed for the amount of rice I cooked so I froze the rest. I’m trying to get away from using any canned foods due to the BPA issue so I will be doing a lot more cooking of my own beans then freezing them in meal-size portions. Beans are SO easy to cook in a crockpot that with just a bit of effort I can have several varieties already cooked and ready to thaw for recipes. Bonus: dried beans are MUCH cheaper than canned.