Black Beans and “Rice”

We love beans in this house.  Inexpensive, healthy, vegetarian, and infinitely variable: red beans, black beans, white beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans.  Interestingly, this is probably a rather short list in what I understand is a wide spectrum of bean species.  I admit that this is because we normally go for the canned beans – more expensive?  Yes.  More sodium?  Definitely.  Not requiring of pre-planning so I can make them on a whim?  Precisely why I use them.  Still, I recently read that you can pre-soak beans and then freeze them, so that they would have a shorter (though still longer than canned) cooking time.

Also, I was reminded the other day that you can purchase an astonishing variety of beans via mail-order, and they are sure to be fresh, meaning that they will soak in less time and cook up to be soft and delicious.  Of course, in order to do this, I have to eat up all the soup STILL taking up space in my several dozen glass jars in our freezers.  That’s right, I said freezers, with an “s.”  We have a chest freezer in our house, right next to our fridge.  I bought it so that I could do things like make broths from scratch, and freeze them – so far I have not done this, waiting on, again, the soups.

But I digress.  This week, I really wanted to make a dish with black beans, because it has been a while since we partook of beany goodness, fulfilling our twice-weekly vegetarian meal requirement mostly with cheese protein.  I also had a cauliflower.  Cauliflower is all right, though a fairly plain vegetable, and I plugged it into http://www.foodblogsearch.com to get ideas, and one that popped up was of Cauliflower Rice.  I was intrigued.  I tried it.  I ended up with…

…cauliflower couscous, apparently.  It was my own fault for chopping the cauliflower into couscous-sized pieces instead of rice-sized pieces.  As for the taste?  It passed with me, although it’s not as chewy or hearty as rice would have been.  J was not really as thrilled, but admitted that with cheese, it would probably have been very edible – ringing endorsement, I know, but I don’t expect everything I make to be knock-your-socks-off delicious.  I do expect that some people WILL find this a fantastic substitution for rice (or couscous) and will dance a jig finding this.

Cauliflower “Rice” (2-3 servings)

This “rice” is not suitable for use in recipes where its primary purpose is to soak up some of the liquid, such as in soups, where the rice cooks in the broth.  However, it will be great under heavier, well-seasoned sauces.  Curry sauce, for example, would probably be excellent with this.

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cauliflower

Directions:

  1. Grate or chop the cauliflower florets into the size of rice granules, or couscous.  I used the food processor – I would recommend doing it in small batches at a time and watching very carefully to be sure it isn’t chopped too small.  I did it all at one time, and struggled to get it all chopped, which is why it ended up the size of couscous.  You could also use the grater attachment with a food processor, and chop the strands manually if they are too long.
  2. Place in a microwave-safe bowl, and cover with plastic wrap.  Microwave for about six minutes, or until cauliflower is tender.  Fluff with a fork just as you would rice.

Freakin’ Hot Black Beans (2 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 chipotle in adobo sauce, minced
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • juice of one lime
  • 1/2 c. – 1 c. chicken broth

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a pot over medium heat.  Add vegetables, and cook, stirring frequently, until they are beginning to get tender, about five minutes.
  2. Add remaining ingredients (more or less chicken broth as you wish), and cook, stirring often, until vegetables are tender.
  3. Mash some of the beans with a potato masher to thicken juices.
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