Saturday, August 18, 2012

Black Beans and Rice with Sofrito

To me this is the ultimate vegan feast when topped with Spicy Slaw, Guacamole and Scotch Bonnet Salsa. But this dish is also good on it's own, served in corn tortillas or with your favorite toppings.

In Spanish cuisine sofrito is a mixture of things like garlic, tomatoes and peppers that are minced and sauted over light heat for a long period of time. In Caribbean cuisine sofrito is usually lard seasoned with various ingredients such as ham and peppers. This sofrito is a combination of the two omitting the lard and ham and combining the peppers, tomatoes and aromatics. 

It used to be believed that vegans had to carefully combine different complimentary protein foods at every meal to survive. We now know this isn't the case, our bodies are super efficient at storing and using amino acids obtained from plant foods over a period of about 1-2 days, and in some cases up to a week. So as long as we eat a diet varied in nutritious plant foods we will get plenty of "complete proteins." But rice and beans were long touted as the perfect vegetarian meal because the rice and the beans together contain all 9 essential amino acids, so here you have it a complete protein vegetarian meal.

1 lb. black beans, sorted, rinsed and soaked for at least 4 hours or overnight
Extra virgin olive oil
1 green bell pepper, small dice
1 red bell pepper, small dice
1 poblano chile, small dice
1 white or yellow onion, small dice
4 cloves garlic, minced
4-6 tsp. chile powder
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. (epasote or Mexican oregano), optional
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
8 oz. tomato sauce
6 oz. tomato paste
2 c. reserved bean cooking liquid
3-4 c. cooked brown rice (I usually use leftover rice, but you can make rice for this recipe)

1) There are two different ways you can go about cooking the beans. Either cook them in a large pot according to the package directions or cook them in a pressure cooker on high for about 10-12 minutes. In either case, when you drain the beans reserve the cooking liquid to use later.

2) When the beans are almost done cooking, heat the olive oil in a large soup pot or dutch oven. Add all of the vegetables and saute until they soften, about 10 minutes. Add the spices, tomato sauce, and tomato paste and stir to combine. You will have a thick, pasty sauce. Let the sauce simmer for about 10-15 minutes making sure to stir frequently to prevent burning.

The sofrito
3) Add the drained beans and about 2 c. of the bean cooking liquid. Bring the beans to a simmer and let them simmer, covered, for 30 minutes stirring occasionally to avoid burning at the bottom of the pot.

4) After the beans have simmered for 30 minutes, add the cooked rice and a little more bean liquid only if it seems necessary. Simmer for 5 minutes more and then serve.

This makes about 8-10 servings.

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