Friday, March 27, 2009

Beans and rice, redux

In my house, there is a dinner we eat easily once a week. Over the years, its name has evolved. Once it was "tacos" or "veggie chili." Then it became "Permission" (as in, "permission to eat junk food for dinner," because we'd scoop it up with chips that had cheese melted over them.) Its current iteration is "chips and cheese" because that's how the kids think of it. They also love the sour cream we serve as a condiment.

But, um, in recent months, I've been trying to watch what I'm eating a little more closely, and I decided I don't really need to gorge on chips and cheese, delicious though they are. So I've been experimenting with other sides to go with the veggie chili so I don't have to fill up on the chips. I'm trying to treat them as a garnish or whatever, instead of the main dish!

Polenta works well, as do potatoes boiled then combined with sauteed onions and chili powder.

But today I decided to make rice.

I've been relying more and more on cooking my own beans instead of canned, and that results in lovely broth that I often use to make soup (more on black bean soup in another post). But there's a recipe of Deborah Madison's where she uses the black bean broth to cook rice. It's not perhaps the prettiest thing going, but it is tasty.

"Veggie chili"

I usually use black beans, though kidney or pinto beans also work, as does a combination.

1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp coriander
1 tsp oregano
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 to 1 cup diced canned tomatoes, including the liquid (or salsa)
3 cups or so of cooked beans (or canned)
salt to taste

Saute the onion in oil for 10 minutes or so, then add the corn. Let it thaw and even get a little browned. Add the spices and garlic and stir constantly for a minute or two. Add beans and tomatoes, and simmer for as long as you have. I often add some bean broth to make it a little juicier.

Oh, and I used corn from the freezer from the farmer's market last summer! As I said earlier in the week, I've finally been using all the local produce I froze last summer.

The rice is pretty standard: saute a little onion and garlic plus 1/8 tsp anise seeds with a cup and a quarter of rice and 1/2 tsp of salt. Add 2 cups bean broth and bring to a boil; turn down the heat and let it simmer till done.

Leftovers of this veggie chili make a great base for black bean soup. But I'll write about that in another post.

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