This weekend I decided I wanted red beans and rice, so I put a bunch of red beans on to soak saturday morning.
By saturday night, it was apparent that the red beans refused to soak in eight hours. Well, half of them were fine with soaking in eight hours. The other half remained partly shriveled or entirely hard and red. They demanded an actual overnight before boiling. Boo! Fortunately, I had a bunch of cooked black beans in the freezer already.
Black beans and rice
a hot pepper
a green pepper
a good tomato/some tomato puree
paprika, cayenne, marjoram, sage, thyme
cooked black beans
First, put on the rice. Steam it while you cook everything else.
Bust out a big saute pan and warm some olive oil on medium. Chop up several cloves of garlic (and half an onion, if you have it) and soften them in the pan while you prep everything else. Finely dice the hot pepper; dice the green pepper and tomato; peel and chop the carrot. If you have any celery around, chop and add a couple stalks of that too. Celery loves this stuff. Other vegetables that go well: any other color bell pepper, corn, maybe some mushrooms.
Spice with lots of paprika, a little cayenne, and as much of each herb as you want. I used a lot of marjoram and very little sage and thyme, mostly because a while ago I bought big cheap bags of sage and thyme which turned out to be very badly sorted and thus full of stem bits. This means I have to pick out all the twigs before I use any of them. Bleah. Also add a couple pinches of salt and as much black pepper as you can stand to grind (maybe a teaspoon). The pepper made me think about this Deborah Madison recipe I've been wanting to make for a while: black pepper rice. Mm, pepper.
Soften everything together for maybe ten minutes. When the tomato is reduced, it's time to add the beans. I used black beans because that's what was ready; red beans are clearly classic, but almost any color beans would work. My beans were frozen into a big whack, so I just dumped the whole thing in, added some water and a bay leaf, and left it to defrost. Then I came back and prodded it with a spoon every once in a while. Eventually (after another ten minutes or so) it broke up, so the beans could actually cook.
At this stage you should have a soupy liquid filled with vegetable and bean bits. Cook together until the rice is done, or for about five or ten more minutes. You can clearly cook it longer if you have extra liquid going on.
When everything is done, fluff the rice and mix it into the beans. Or you can serve out plates of rice, make a big dent in the middle of each, and fill them all with beans and vegetables. Either way you come up with a delicious plate of cheap, healthy business.
You don't need to have much else with beans and rice. Maybe have some sharp greens if you want them. Maybe add some cubed mild cheese. Maybe scoop it into a tortilla.
Eat it all.