Saturday, May 7, 2011

Weekend Cooking: Slow Spanish Beans and Rice (and a Cookbook Review)

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Cinco de Mayo may be over, but in celebration of the day on Thursday, I made a delicious and simple beans and rice dinner that is going to become a regular in our house many other days of the year. 

Now, I don't know how authentic of a Cinco de Mayo recipe this was, but it doesn't really matter.  And I know y'all are probably not that culinary-challenged to actually NEED a RECIPE for beans and rice.  All that matters is that the three of us loved it (and if The Husband had been dining with us, I'm betting he would have too.) 

It's pretty simple - a crockpot recipe for beans and rice.  I know, doesn't get more economical and easier than that, does it?  I'm all about fast and easy meals these days (since we're trying to sell our house and will need to be prepared to eat quickly because of showings) and because of my impending job loss, frugality will soon become the name of the game around here.

Enter this cookbook that I checked out of the library.  Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson isn't a new book (it was published in 2004), but it's one I'd never seen before spotting it on the shelves. 

Slow Spanish Beans and Rice
slow cooker size: 3.5 - 4 qt
cook time: 6-8 hours
setting: low

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium-size yellow onion, chopped
1 small red or green bell pepper, seeded and chopped (I omitted; did not have)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup tomato paste (I had about this much leftover tomato sauce from two nights ago and used this instead)
2 tsps. chili powder
two 15.5 oz. cans pinto or kidney beans, drained and rinsed (I used one of each)
one 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, with their juices 
1.5 cups water (oh, wow ... as I typed, I just noticed I omitted this by mistake. Honestly?  It wasn't missed.)
1 tbsp. tamari or other soy sauce
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups cooked long-grain brown rice

(In regards to the rice, I have almost half of a Pampered Chef rice cooker (LOVE THAT THING!!!) full of white rice left from last night's dinner. Since I wasn't sure how much rice the kids would want, I ladled this over the rice instead of adding it into the crockpot at the end.)

1. Heat the oil in a medium-size skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic, cover and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the tomato paste and chili powder and stir to coat.

2. Transfer the onion misture to a 3.5 - 4 qt. slow cooker.  Add the beans, tomatoes, water, and tamari; season with salt and pepper, cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.   (I cooked for slightly over 6 hours.)

3. About 10 minutes before serving time, stir in the rice. 

As I said, we loved this.  I added a few small leftover pieces of chicken to the kids' plates. I had a generous plateful for lunch (it's really good as leftovers) with some cheddar cheese, and for dinner tonight we had fish with this as a side. (I called it "Mexican Fish" for the kids. Y'know, 'cause I'm all creative and shit like that.)

One of the things I've noticed in this cookbook (and several other slow cooking cookbooks) is the requirement to brown or soften ingredients on the stove first.  When I first started encountering this in recipes, I was kind of annoyed.  I mean, doesn't that extra step kind of defeat the whole purpose of a slow cooker?!  But in the recipes I've done this for (Easy Cheesy Ravioli Casserole and now this), I think it does make a difference.  And really, it's not that much more time.  We're only talking a matter of minutes. (And, as Robertson says on pg. 8, it can be done the night before.)

Even better ... you can do this pre-browning nonsense in the slow cooker itself.  This I did not know. On page 9, Robertson says you can "put oil and hard vegetables in the cooker, cover, and turn on High while you prep the rest of the ingredients. The amount of time this will take depends on the size and volume of the vegetables being used. For example, a tablespoon of minced garlic may take only 15 minutes, while 1/2 cup of chopped onion can take up to 30 minutes, so this shortcut is only practical if you plan to be in the kitchen anyway doing other things."

The Slow Spanish Beans and Rice was the only recipe I had a chance to try before this was due back at the library, but here are some other ones that I want to sample soon:

Tuscan White Bean and Escarole Soup
Split Pea and Parsnip Soup
Corn Chowder in Winter
French Onion Soup with Cheesy Bruschetta
Creamy Tomato Soup with Israeli Couscous
Two-Mushroom Barley Soup
Slow and Easy White Bean Cassoulet
Sloppy Lentils
Farmhouse Fricassee
Arroz non Pollo
Vegetarian Paella
Slow-Fashioned Potpie with Biscuit Crust
Slow-Cooked Tomato Sauce for Pasta
Old Fashioned Bread Stuffing
Blueberry Cobbler
Pieless Apples a la Mode
Bourbon-Spiked Pumpkin Bread Pudding
Chocolate Fantasy Fondue (that's going to cause a spike in the search terms to the blog, no doubt...)
Fudgy Chocolate Pudding Cake
Slow Baked Apples


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Margot said...

My husband loves beans and rice and I'm always looking for new ways of making it. I like using the crockpot so I'll give your recipe a try.

caite said...

I find you always need a lot less liquid in a slow-cooker recipe than you think, so I can see why you might have not missed the water.

caite said...

[ooops...had a problem losting a comment..let try again and hope we do not get two...]

I always find you need less liquid in a slow cooker recipe than you think, so I can see why you might not miss the water.

Faith said...

I'm trying to get away from meat and this book would be perfect for me since I LOVE my crockpot!

Love beans and rice!

Here's my recipe

TheBookGirl said...

I use my slow cooker all the time, but that tip about turning it to high to brown the veggies is a new one to me -- great idea :)

We love beans and rice around here; always looking for new takes on it, thanks!

Peaceful Reader said...

I'm happy to say I own this cookbook and love it!! It is one of my most used books because the recipes are unique, easy to toss together and delicious!

I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it and found many interesting recipes.

Beth F said...

I love beans and rice too -- this sounds like a great book because we don't each much meat.

JoAnn said...

I don't believe it - my daughters and I just got home from a browse at B&N and this cookbook was in my hands!! Decided to check it out of the library before making a purchase.

Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) said...

Yum, thanks for the recipe, looks delicious! I need recipes for just about everything the first time I cook. I'm not brave enough to experiment just yet.

Margot said...

Hey, I remember this one. This was super easy and super good. I made a couple of adjustments. For one thing, I'd soaked and cooked my own beans; they worked fine. Second, I didn't have canned tomatoes so I substituted Rotal tomatoes and chiles; nice and spicy. I did add the uncooked rice at the end and it turned out fine.

I need to see if our library has this one, even though I'm not a vegetarian. Looks good.