As a single parent raising three sons, my father didn’t have the time to soak dried beans overnight and then cook them for four hours on the stove. He took some shortcuts, but I always liked rice and beans whenever we had them. It was comfort food like no other.
Here I’ve recreated his meal and updated it where appropriate. Don’t wig out because I’m using canned beans; that’s what my dad did. And as much as I’d like to, I don’t always have the time to prepare dried beans myself.
The primary differences between this recipe and my father’s are the substitution of tomato paste for ketchup; and brown rice for white instant rice. I’ve also used fresh basil because the basil in our garden refuses to give up; it’s still growing.
The result is mellow, with nicely integrated, muted flavors. If you want additional zip, add cumin or fresh cilantro. Or both.
2 – 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt, to taste
2 plum tomatoes, diced
1 tablespoon fresh basil
1 teaspoon oregano
dash of cayenne pepper
2 cans pinto beans or kidney beans, drained
1 teaspoon red or white wine vinegar
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the onions; saute until they’ve softened. Add garlic, green pepper and salt; cook five minutes with low heat.
Add the beans, herbs, tomatoes and cayenne. Add the vinegar. Cook for a minute, then add broth, water and tomato paste. Stir well; cover and cook with low heat for 25 – 30 minutes. Adjust seasoning. Serve with rice.