Saturday, December 31, 2011

Red Beans and Rice

I have a friend who dropped a huge amount of weight by taking a daily power walk with her mother and by adding a cup of beans to her diet everyday. The beans are very filling and therefore she ate less. Of course, once she got going and lost some weight it was easier to forgo desserts and other caloric foods.  It is very inspiring and I might give it a try. So I looked through some recipe sites. Emeril's five star recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of bacon grease, one pound of ham and sausage links. I'm sure its good. has a southern beans dish that calls for 2 pounds of ham. Again, sounds good but I doubt it will do for my purposes. had a similar ham and sausage recipe for its red beans dish. So I tried "fat-free" and "red beans".

In my Internet search for beans and rice recipes, I came to find a lot of "southern" recipes and wondered why this was considered a southern dish. Wikipedia says that Mondays were traditionally wash days and women could put beans on to boil and spend their time scrubbing the wash. I wonder if Sunday dinner tended to be ham or sausage. That would explain why so many of these recipes include ham and/or sausage.

There is an Indian dish called Rajma Chawal which literally means red beans and rice.This dish is prepared by soaking beans in water overnight (or opening a can, if you can't be bothered to soak beans overnight) and boiling with tomatoes, onions, ginger, garlic, and coriander. Spoon the beans and sauce mixture over rice and you're done!

There is a Mexican version that uses salsa and sour cream. I found a good recipe from Jeanne Lemlin's book, Quick Vegetarian Pleasures. The picture of this dish looks delicious! The basics are that you boil the beans with the salsa and some garlic and you pour this over rice and have sour cream on the side for taste.

There is also a Korean-style black beans and rice recipe which has garlic, soy sauce, honey and sesame oil boiled with the beans. It sounds similar to a sweet and sour spareribs recipe I have tried in the past. I bet this one is good!

I bet that the ingredients - red beans, rice, spices and whatever leftovers you have available - make this dish a staple in kitchens all over the world. Additionally, brown rice is a starch, rich in energy and nutrients. Beans are rich in protein, iron and fibre too.  Rice and beans are common and affordable ingredients, often available even when times are hard. You could have rice and beans for breakfast, and I am sure that many people do. For me, it is lunch or a side dish for dinner. The true lure of this recipe is my ability to make it on the weekend and bring it to work for lunch over the work week.

Finally, I found a site called "fat free vegan" and it had a recipe for " Real Louisiana Red Beans and Rice". I'm cooking it right now, without the liquid smoke(and I'm using canned rather than dried beans). I don't generally have liquid smoke but I have gone looking for it in local shops and I've found it is very expensive. A woman at the shop told me to just use fake bacon bits (or imitation as the label says). I'm no gourmet, just someone looking to expand her repertoire of recipes, and so, the bacon bits substitution sounds good to me.

1 comment:

  1. When I was in grad school in Tallahassee, some of the guys wanted to go to a place -- it was either the "New Leaf Cafe" or the "Green Leaf Cafe" -- for beans and rice. I was really disappointed, because that was all it was: beans and rice, which is bland in the extreme. I knew I could do better, and that is how "Bachelor Surprise" came in to being.

    There are many different variations on it, but this is a typical version.

    2 cups (uncooked) instant rice
    1 can dark red kidney beans, washed and drained
    1 can black beans, washed and drained
    1 can Green Giant Mexicorn
    No-salt spice mix.
    V8 juice.

    Pour the rice into a microwaveable casserole dish and substitute V8 juice for the water called for on the box. I like to use V8 picante to make it spicier; I also like to use a hot blend of the no-salt spice mix and add Tabasco-type hot sauce. Then just mix all the ingredients and microwave until the rice is cooked.

    I got through grad school mostly on bachelor surprise and coffee.



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