When I was younger I guess I was like most kids and teens, equating good food with, what I now know is unhealthy crap. As such whenever there was a dish that contained both beans and rice—and no meat—I looked at it as Third World food. I would turn my nose up at it and once I got my first job at White Castle I’d use my own money to buy food I found more palatable.
These days as meat makes a more infrequent appearance in my meals, not to mention time spent in Louisiana and Los Angeles, I’ve learned to appreciate the subtle nuances of rice and bean dishes. Whether it’s dirty rice or Mexican style rice & beans I’ve discovered how delicious and healthy beans can be.
I like to try different variations of rice and beans and so far one of our favorites is the Southern style red beans and rice with kidney beans, carrots and bell peppers. But I decided to combine dirty rice with beans to see if it was anywhere near edible. It was, actually.
One of the difficult parts of making dishes like this is that I LOVE spice and he has what I call ‘Amish taste buds,’ no offense to any Amish people out there! Anyway so my biggest problem is always finding peppers with the right spice, which is no small feat here in Germany, and how many peppers will satisfy my taste buds without scorching his. I’ve been accused of trying to murder his taste buds with my Étouffée so I try to be sensitive to it.
Here, my choices are pretty much fresh or canned jalapenos and if I’m really lucky a Thai chili pepper. Even though the jalapenos are labeled as “hot” it should be noted that German scharf (hot) is mild at best, and not at all hot at worst. So I went for jalapenos in a jar.
Now a note about some ingredients: you can use canned tomato sauce or paste but because of BPA I either go with organic sauce in a glass jar or I simply do it myself with fresh tomatoes. For this particular recipe I took some Roma tomatoes, boiled them and peeled of the skin before smashing them with my hands. It is up to you to decide the quality of your ingredients but unlike in the States, organic food is cheaper so when it comes to foods I eat whole, like tomatoes I try my best to go organic. I know some of you are thinking that I’m one of those people and I am, what of it? The truth is that if I’m going to ingest chemicals I’d rather go back to something I gave up a long time ago: cigarettes. They provided greater relief and at least with cigarettes you know its poison.
Okay so my soapbox has been put away and we’re back to the dirty rice & beans.
I used chili beans instead of kidney beans, which are basically pinto beans in a chili sauce. The bright red color is due, not to tomatoes, but cayenne pepper, paprika and red curry. I know, this is supposed to be ‘not too spicy’ but it has to have some spice to be dirty rice or it’s just plain ol’ rice and beans.
Any way you can decide to eliminate peppers altogether for a spiced-down version or use sweet paprika instead of smoky. Let your taste buds and heat tolerance be your guide here.
1 cup beans (chili, pinto or kidney)
1 onion, chopped
1/8 cup sliced jalapeno peppers
½ tbsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. Curry
1 tbsp. cumin
2 cups vegetable broth
2 garlic cloves, sliced
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 cup brown rice
5 Roma tomatoes, stewed
1 tbsp. olive oil
- Bring 2 cups of salted water to a boil then add rice and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to a simmer and cook 25 minutes or until water is absorbed.
- In a large skillet heat olive oil, and half of the cayenne pepper, paprika, cumin and curry over medium high heat.
- Add onion to skillet and cook 7 minutes or until they become transparent.
- Stir in garlic and cook 3 more minutes.
- Add in tomatoes, beans, jalapenos and broth. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer.
- Mix in rice and serve.
Alternately you may decide to use more water and cook the rice with the ingredients. This runs the risk of uncooked or super al dente rice, which is why I do it this way.
You could enjoy wine with this meal but I think ice cold beer or a vodka tonic does the meal better justice.