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INTERNATIONAL RICE & BEANS.

Rice and bean dishes are justly celebrated throughout the world. Typically, pork or beef is used as a seasoning, as in the everything-but-the-snout use of pork in Brazilian feijoada, Hoppin' John, Jambalaya, and many kinds of chili. But meat is, of course, unnecessary for a savory dish. Far more important are vegan ingredients like onions, garlic, and pepper. I cook rice and beans for my meat-eating friends all the time, and they often tell me that they are surprised how little they missed the meat. I like to think that I have created some interest in vegetarianism through these tasty meals.

More importantly, rice and bean dishes are easy to prepare, exceptionally nutritious, and extremely forgiving; with a few exceptions, most beans can successfully stand in for other beans. Be guided by the overall texture of the bean and the recipe itself. Soft cannellini beans may make an interesting substitute for chickpeas in a hummus-like puree, but they are a poor choice for a recipe that calls for a bean with a firm texture, as in the pilaf on page 10. Other beans, like roman or pigeon peas, have relatively thick skins, which might make them inappropriate for dishes calling for more tender varieties. But no harm is done by substituting black beans for Great Northern beans, and often a mix of different colors or textures can make an appealing dish even more pleasing.

All the recipes included call for canned or frozen beans. I find the convenience of using prepared beans invaluable. But if you like to prepare beans from scratch, see the end of this article. If you start out with dried beans, you can better control the texture of the cooked beans and the amount of sodium they will contain. You will also be able to use a wider range of beans, since many varieties, such as adzuki, cranberry, or appaloosa are seldom available prepackaged.

Experiment! Unless you're a real purist, you'll enjoy combining Indian Basmati rice with Mexican chipotle beans, or Turkish lemon beans with Japanese sticky rice, or substituting Thai rice noodles for injera as an accompaniment for Ethiopian berbere lentils. Few dishes lend themselves as easily to fusion cuisine as rice and beans.

Most of the recipes below are very easily doubled or tripled, and most reheat well.

CHIPOTLE BEANS AND RICE

(Serves 6)

This spicy, smoky dish should appeal to chili lovers. It's a real crowd pleaser at parties.
4 or more chipotle peppers (see note)
2 large onions, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 red bell peppers, diced
One 28-ounce can of whole, peeled tomatoes
 packed in puree, drained, liquid reserved
Two 15-ounce cans of beans, rinsed thoroughly
 and drained (I recommend black
 beans, black-eyed peas, small red beans,
 or pinto beans)
6 cups cooked rice (see page 11)
Cilantro leaves (optional)


Reconstitute the dried chipotles by soaking them in warm water until they are smooth and pliable, about an hour. (This step can be done hours in advance.) Remove the peppers from the water, cut them in half, discard the seeds, and chop finely. Set aside.

Cover the bottom of a large saucepan or pot with water. Over a high flame, saute the onions and garlic until the onions become soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the soy sauce and bell peppers, add-ing water as necessary to prevent the vegetables from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Chop the tomatoes coarsely and add, along with reserved puree, to the pot. Add chipotles to the pot. Reduce flame to low and add beans, stirring occasionally.

Cook over a low flame for an additional 15-20 minutes, until beans are heated through.

On a platter, arrange rice into a ring shape and spoon beans into the center, or serve individual portions, with the beans spooned over 1 cup of rice. Garnish with cilantro.

Total calories per serving: 407 Carbohydrates: 82 grams Sodium: 612 milligrams Good source of iron Fat: 3 grams Protein: 15 grams Fiber: 13 grams

Note: Chipotles are smoked, dried jalapeno peppers. They can be purchased in Mexican and gourmet stores, or from Penzeys, a mail order spice house; <www.penzeys. com> or (800) 741-7787. If chipotles are not available, fresh jalapeno peppers can be substituted, although the dish will lack the chipotles' distinctive smoky flavor.

COCONUT BEANS & RICE

(Serves 6)

Coconut-braised beans are popular throughout South and Central America and Africa. For a more intense coconut flavor, replace 2 or 3 Tablespoons of the rice's cooking water with coconut milk.
1 medium sweet potato, peeled
1 medium white potato, peeled
Olive oil spray
2 medium onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large tomato, peeled and chopped
1 Tablespoon cumin
1 Tablespoon coriander
1 Tablespoon turmeric
1 chili pepper, seeded and finely chopped
 (or more to taste)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves (reserve a
 few leaves for garnish)
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup dried coconut
Two 15-ounce cans beans, well rinsed and
 drained (black-eyed peas are an especially
 good choice)
Salt, pepper, and hot pepper sauce to taste
6 cups cooked rice


In a small pot, parboil the potatoes for 20 minutes. Drain, set aside, and let cool. When they are cool enough, dice them.

Meanwhile, spray a large pan with the oil spray and saute the onions and garlic until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes, adding water, if necessary, so that they don't stick.

Reduce the heat, and add the tomato, spices, chili pepper, cilantro leaves, coconut milk, and dried coconut. Stir to mix. Add the diced potatoes and beans.

Continue cooking until the potatoes are tender and the beans are heated through, about 10 minutes. Season to taste.

On a platter, arrange rice into a ring shape and spoon beans into the center, or serve individual portions with the beans spooned over the rice. Garnish with cilantro.

Total calories per serving: 474 Carbohydrates: 91 grams Sodium: 453 milligrams Fat: 7 grams Protein: 15 grams Fiber: 10 grams

BRAZILIAN BLACK BEAN STEW WITH RICE

(Serves 6)

This recipe is loosely based on feijoada, the Brazilian national dish.
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 cup diced carrots
1 red pepper, diced
1 jalapeno or other hot pepper, seeded and
 finely diced
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
Three 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and
 drained
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, plus a few leaves for
 garnish
1/4 to 1/3 cup orange juice
Salt, pepper, and hot sauce to taste
6 cups cooked rice
Thin orange slices for garnish (optional)


Cover the bottom of a large saucepan or pot with water. Over a high flame, saute the onions, garlic, celery, carrots, and peppers until they become soft, about 10 minutes. Add the soy sauce, cumin, and coriander, and stir to mix thoroughly. Add water as necessary to prevent the vegetables from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Reduce the heat and add the beans, cilantro, and orange juice. Simmer at a very low heat for an additional 15 minutes.

If you have a hand-held immersion blender, puree 1/4 of the stew in the pot. Otherwise, remove 1/4 of the stew from the pot and puree in a blender or food processor. Return the puree to the pot and mix thoroughly. (You can puree more of the stew if you prefer a thinner texture, but do not puree more than half.) Season to taste with salt, pepper, and hot sauce.

On a platter, arrange rice into a ring shape and spoon beans into the center, or serve individual portions with the beans spooned over the rice. Garnish with orange slices and cilantro.

Total calories per serving: 470 Carbohydrates: 96 grams Sodium: 1179 milligrams Good source of iron Fat: 2 grams Protein: 20 grams Fiber: 18 grams

EDAMAME WITH RICE NOODLES

(Serves 4)

This pan-Asian recipe joins Japanese soybeans and Thai rice noodles. If you prefer, serve the edamame with rice (such as Thai Jasmine) instead.
8 ounces rice noodles (see note)
6 ounces frozen, shelled edamame (soy
 beans found in natural foods stores)
Olive oil spray
1 large onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons soy sauce, or more to taste
1 Tablespoon minced ginger
2 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green
 parts)
2 carrots, peeled and julienned
1 red, green, or yellow bell pepper,
 julienned
1 cup thinly sliced fresh mushrooms
1 cup thinly sliced zucchini or summer squash
Salt and pepper to taste


In a large bowl or pot, soak noodles in boiling water for 15-20 minutes, or until they are soft and pliable. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, cook the edamame in a steamer basket over boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and drain.

Coat a wok, skillet, or large pan or pot with the oil spray. Over a high flame, saute the onions and garlic until the onions become soft, about 10 minutes. Add the soy sauce, ginger, scallions, carrots, peppers, and mushrooms, and saute for an additional 5 minutes, adding water if necessary to prevent the vegetables from sticking. Add the squash and edamame and saute for another 3 minutes, stirring constantly to mix. Add the noodles, stirring constantly until they are heated through. Season to taste and serve immediately.

Note: Rice noodles are available at Asian and gourmet food markets. Thicker noodles, such as the Erawan brand from Thailand, come in medium, large, and extra-large sizes. Thinner noodles, also called rice stick or rice vermicelli, are also available. Look for Tung Kow Rice Vermicelli from China or Poolee Rice Flour Noodles from Taiwan. Most noodles are sold in pound packages.

Total calories per serving: 332 Carbohydrates: 62 grams Sodium: 530 milligrams Good source of iron Fat: 4 grams Protein: 13 grams Fiber: 5 grams

JAMBALAYA

(Serves 5)

A vegan version of the classic Louisiana Creole dish, with the dish's authentic flavors of okra, celery, onions, and peppers.
1 1/2 cups short grain rice, such as arborio or
 baby basmati
Olive oil spray
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 red, yellow, or green bell peppers, finely
 chopped
1-2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 or 3 bay leaves
4 1/2 cups vegetable stock or water
1/2 pound small okra, ends trimmed, and
 sliced in thirds
One 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup julienned or shredded carrots
1 small zucchini or summer squash, finely
 chopped
One 14.5-ounce can cut baby corn, rinsed and
 drained
One 15-ounce can red or dark red kidney
 beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Salt and pepper to taste


Rinse the rice with water until the water runs clear. Soak the rice in water for 15-20 minutes and drain.

Meanwhile, coat the bottom of a large saucepan or pot with the oil spray. Over a high flame, saute the onions, garlic, celery, and peppers until the onions become soft and translucent, about 5-8 minutes, adding water as necessary to prevent the vegetables from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Add the soy sauce, bay leaves, and the stock or water. Bring to a boil.

Add the okra, tomatoes, and carrots, and reduce the heat. Simmer for 5 minutes and stir in the rice.

Return the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring gently a few times.

Stir in the zucchini, baby corn, beans, parsley, smoke, and spices, and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes.

Mix thoroughly and remove bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

Total calories per serving: 506 Carbohydrates: 106 grams Sodium: 1709 milligrams Good source of iron Fat: 3 grams Protein: 18 grams Fiber: 14 grams

CURRIED BEAN PILAF

(Serves 5)

This dish draws its inspiration from the pilafs of Central and Southern Asia and the couscous recipes of North Africa.
1 1/2 cups long grain rice, such as basmati
Oil spray
3 large onions, chopped
1 1/2 Tablespoons curry powder
1 Tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 bay leaves
3 cups vegetable stock or water
One 15-ounce can firm beans, such as
 chickpeas, black beans, or small red
 beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
1/2 cup unsalted roasted cashew pieces
Salt and pepper to taste


Rinse the rice with water until the water runs clear. Soak the rice in water for 15-20 minutes and drain.

Meanwhile, spray a heavy pot or large skillet with oil spray and saute the onions until they become soft and caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add small amounts of water, if necessary, to prevent sticking.

Add the rice, curry powder, cumin, and turmeric to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally for an additional 3 minutes. Add the bay leaves and stock and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to a simmer, add the beans and raisins, cover the pan, and cook until the stock has been absorbed (about 25 minutes).

Remove from heat, remove bay leaves, and add the parsley, cashews, and salt and pepper. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Variations: Pine nuts, roasted unsalted almonds, or chopped, roasted chestnuts (a lowfat option) can be substituted for the cashews.

Total calories per serving: 497 Carbohydrates: 93 grams Sodium: 872 milligrams Fat: 11 grams Protein: 15 grams Fiber: 10 grams

MICROWAVE BASMATI RICE

Measure the rice (figuring that one cup of raw rice will serve three or four people). Rinse the rice several times in cool water until the water runs clear. Drain.

Place the rice in a big bowl and soak for 10 minutes or longer. Drain.

Put the rice and twice as much water in a microwave-safe container with a tightly fitting lid (you can also cover with microwave-safe plastic wrap). Microwave on "high" for 15 minutes.

Check on the rice. It should be finished, but if any water remains or if the rice appears soggy, microwave longer, in one minute increments. You may need to adjust cooking times based upon the variety of rice, the amount of rice you are cooking, the cooking container, and your brand and wattage of microwave. Fluff the rice and serve.

BEANS FROM SCRATCH

Most of the recipes included here have used the 15-ounce can of beans as their standard. These cans yield approximately 1 1/2 to 1 2/3 cups of beans, depending on the variety. This quantity is equivalent to 2/3 cup dried beans cooked in 2-3 cups of water.

For those who wish to use dried beans, I've included a recipe below. If you cook beans frequently, it may be worth your while to invest in a time-saving pressure cooker.

Pick over and rinse the beans. Discard any debris or misshapen beans.

Put the beans in a large bowl or pot and cover with cold water. Soak overnight or for at least 4 hours.

If you are pressed for time, you can quick-soak the beans. Put the beans and enough water to cover them well in a pot. Bring the water to a boil, cover, remove from heat, and let stand for an hour or more. Almost every bean, with the exception of lentils, requires some soaking time.

Drain the soaked beans well and return them to the pot. Add water to cover generously. Figure on using at least 2 cups of water for every cup of beans. Bring the pot to a boil and let boil for a few minutes. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 2 hours. The exact cooking time will depend upon the variety of the bean and its age and dryness. (Recently harvested beans will require less cooking.) Salt or seasonings (garlic, soy sauce, bay leaves, etc.) may be added after an hour of cooking.

Most beans freeze well in their cooking liquid.

A WORD ABOUT THE RICE

My favorite kinds of rice are aromatic, Asian, white, and long grain varieties, such as Indian basmati and Thai jasmine. But rice comes in many different sizes and colors. Short grain rices, like arborio, get creamy when they cook and are the best choices for dishes like risotto and jambalaya. Basmati and other long grain rices work well in pilafs, biryanis, and other dishes that call for a drier, more individualized grain. If you are just placing a cooked dish oil top of a base of rice, almost any kind of rice will work well.

Rice is generally an inexpensive food item, so it can be fun to experiment with different kinds. Don't feel limited to just white or brown rice (white rice with the bran intact), Mixing black or red rice with your usual brand is an easy way to make any meal more festive and eye-catching. You can also substitute the cooking water with vegetable stock, coconut milk or another flavorful liquid, or add herbs, garlic doves, spices, or dried fruit to the rice while cooking.

Figure on cooking a cup of raw rice for every three or four people, but make adjustments based upon your experience. Raw rice more than triples in size once it's cooked, so use an appropriately-sized pot or bowl.

Plain, steamed rice can be prepared using several different methods. One way, popular in Asian restaurants and households, is to use a rice steamer. The steamer is an electrical appliance that cooks the rice and keeps it warm and fluffy for several hours. Another method involves steaming the rice in a sturdy pot on the stovetop. My favorite method utilizes the microwave. I find the results predictably excellent, cleanup is easier, and I have one more burner free for other cooking. All three methods generally call for the rice to be cooked with water in a 1:2 or 1:1.75 ratio, and the actual cooking time varies depending upon the method of cooking and the variety of rice. In general, brown rice will take much longer--perhaps twice as long--to cook than white rice. I like to rinse and soak the rice before cooking, though this step may not be necessary for non-Asian varieties. On the next page you'll find my favorite method.

Sally Bernstein is a freelance writer from New York, NY, and a regular contributor to the Vegetarian Journal.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Vegetarian Resource Group
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Bernstein, Sally
Publication:Vegetarian Journal
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2001
Words:3075
Previous Article:The Portuguese Palate.
Next Article:NOTES FROM THE SCIENTIFIC DEPARTMENT.
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