Monday, October 15, 2012

Red Beans and Rice

I've recently started buying dried beans rather than canned beans. First of all, they're cheaper. Second, you can control what goes into them. Third, they produce less waste. So I'm a big fan. I always thought that you had to soak them overnight, so this always deterred me from cooking them because I never knew when I was going to need them unless I had been planning the menu for the week a little better. While reading How to Cook Everything I discovered that you could skip this step. I'm sure that if you soak them they will cook faster, but I can never remember the day before to soak them.

After making homemade refried beans a few times I thought I would change the recipe up a little bit and make my own red beans and rice. During my teenage years I was a vegetarian and one of my favorite restaurants was Bon Temps, a Cajun restaurant in San Luis Obispo. On their menu they had a great vegetarian option, which was red beans and rice, collard greens, and fried green tomatoes. Yummy. I thought reproducing this menu option would be delicious homemade. So I gathered up some ingredients and got to work creating my own recipe for red beans and rice.

Red Beans and Rice
1 cup red beans
1 onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 Serrano chile, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp thyme
1 bay leaf
1 can chopped tomatoes, drained
Cayenne to taste
Salt to taste

1) In a large dutch oven add the beans and all remaining ingredients except tomatoes, cayenne, and salt. Cover with water and bring to a boil
2) Let beans simmer until tender, this can take anywhere from 45 to 2 hours. You just have to keep checking. Add more water to keep barely covered
3) When the beans are tender add the salt, tomatoes, and cayenne
4) Mash some of the beans to thicken them
5) Season and serve over white rice and enjoy!

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