Being off meal plan has really pushed my culinary boundaries. From making my way through the Smitten Kitchen cookbook to exploring the aisles of Trader Joe’s, I’ve tried it all. (Except maybe duck. I haven’t delved into fancy poultry.) However, when I don’t feel adventurous or I’ve had a hard day, there’s always one recipe I can fall back on: Puerto Rican-style rice and beans. It’s easy, it’s filling, and it reminds me of home. I could also eat it for a week straight and not get bored—an ideal recipe for any off meal plan cook.
What you’ll need:
- A couple of tablespoons of olive oil
- Half an onion, minced
- 1/3 of a red bell pepper, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 1/4 tablespoon of Goya seasoning (I use Cilantro y achiote, but any type works because Goya = food of the Gods.)
- 1/4 tablespoon of oregano (I used thyme in this recipe, because I am a dorm room cook and I grab whatever herb is at arm’s length.)
- 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
- 3 tablespoons (or 1 large spoonful) of white cooking wine
- 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon of white vinegar
- A can of Goya red kidney beans, drained
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Optional: Half of a chicken bouillon cube. Because Puerto Rican-style rice and beans are not strictly vegetarian. Oops.
Phew, that was a mouthful. Now, to the recipe!
1. Make rice. Follow instructions on box… Don’t have much wisdom to share on that front.
2. Chop yo’ veggies.
3. In a large pot, heat the olive oil on med/high. Add onions, red pepper, and carrots. Stir until softened for about 2-3 minutes.
4. Add seasoning, oregano, tomato paste, and white cooking wine. Stir well. If you’re going to use the chicken bouillon, put it in now.
5. Lower the temperature to med/low and add the garlic with the vinegar.
6. Now, for the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Add da beanz!
7. Stir the beans so that they’re evenly distributed. If the beans look a little dry, add 1/4 cup of water on the side. Put a lid on the pot, raise the temperature to medium, and let it cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring the beans every five or so minutes to make sure the bottom doesn’t burn. If the beans start sticking to the bottom, lower the temperature to med/low.
Once the 20 minutes are up, take the lid off, lower the temperature, and stir. If it doesn’t look quite ready, give it another five minutes. Otherwise, serve it on rice and enjoy. Buen provecho!