meatless monday: rice and beans and greens

image1(12)“To hand crafted beers made in local breweries, to yoga, to yogurt, to rice and beans and cheese…”–Rent

Don’t lie–you sang this song in your head when you read this title.

Oh, you didn’t? You mean you didn’t spend your teenage years singing show tunes in your room while other people went to parties? Yeah, me either…carry on, then.

Rice and beans, while a staple of many Latin American and Caribbean diets, is also a go-to for people living la vie boheme, aka ballin’ on a budget. Rice and beans together create a complete protein, meaning that it’s a filling and excellent combination of protein and carbohydrates. Instead of white rice and black beans, I used brown rice and cranberry beans, then added some swiss chard for added vitamins and folic acid. Not pictured: the heavy sprinkle of sharp cheddar on top. Since cheese is optional, that makes this dish vegan, if you’re so inclined. I’m typically not, so I thoroughly enjoyed my creamy, melty cheese mixed in with my rice and beans and greens.

The cranberry beans and swiss chard came from this week’s CSA box. Cranberry beans are also called Berlotti beans or Roman beans, showing their Italian origin. Before they cook, they look like this:

cranberryWhen they cook, however, the speckled, Easter egg quality fades away, leaving an ever so slight pink color. These beans are about the size of pinto beans and have a great nutty flavor. You can use whichever bean you like or have in your pantry, but since I had these fresh beans from a local farm, you know I had to use them–never canned, plus I didn’t have to soak them overnight.

Rice and Beans and Greens

Serves 4-6

2 cups brown rice, dry

1.5 cups fresh, uncooked cranberry beans (or beans of your choice)

4.5 oz. can diced green chiles

4 cups chicken broth (or water or vegetable broth if vegetarian/vegan)

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. white pepper

1 Tbsp. cumin

1 Tbsp. paprika

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 tsp. chili powder

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp. coriander

1 bunch swiss chard, stems removed, cut into 1/2-inch ribbons

1 tsp. olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

shredded cheddar cheese for topping (optional)

Combine rice, beans, chiles, stock, and spices in a rice cooker and cook until done. If you don’t have a rice cooker (and you should–go buy one, they’re cheap), bring ingredients to a boil in a pot, then place the lid on the pot, turn the heat to low, and cook for about 40 minutes.

When the rice and beans are done, heat the tsp. of olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat, then add the garlic. Next, add the swiss chard and cook for about 1 minute. Next, add the rice and beans and toss with the swiss chard, then smooth over the top of the mixture with a spoon and let cook for about one minute. Stir, then repeat this. Next, plate the rice and beans in a bowl and top with cheese, if desired. Devour.

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