Food is absolutely necessary for life. But besides simple nourishment, food is also the way we connect to each other. Food is part of our culture and is often at the center of great memories. How many relationships have begun and flourished over a meal? I fell in love with my husband over baked chicken and rice that he prepared!
In celebration of foods that make us do a happy dance because they nourish our bodies and also our soul, today I am sharing a recipe from my Cuban culture. This is of one of my favorite dishes that I have adapted to a vegetarian version.
1 cup of black beans
1 cup of white rice
1 Green pepper
1 large onion
6 – 8 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of Cumin
¼ teaspoon of dried oregano
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
2 bay leaves
Salt, pepper and red pepper (optional)
Clean and rinse black beans. Dissolve two tablespoons of salt in 3 cups of water. Add beans and cover and let sit for 4-5 hours or overnight. Drain out the salted water. Into the pot with the drained beans add 3-4 cups of fresh water and ¾ teaspoon of salt. Cut the onion and the green pepper in half. Peel and smash 2 cloves of garlic. Add the ½ of the onion, ½ of the green pepper and the 2 garlic cloves into the pot with beans and simmer over medium low heat, half covered, until the beans are fully cooked. Set aside and let cool. Once the beans are cool, drain and reserve about 2 and ½ cups of the liquid. Pick out the onion, pepper and garlic cloves from the cooked beans.
Put the rice in a strainer and rinse for about 2 minutes so that the water runs completely clear. Shake the rice over the strainer to make sure it is well drained and set aside. In a wide shallow pan, warm up the olive oil over medium high heat for about 1 minute. Chop the remaining halves of the onion and pepper and the remaining cloves of garlic. Sautee onion and pepper for about 8 minutes. Stir in two tablespoons of cumin. Stir in the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds. Stir in the rice and mix well with the spices and vegetables. Stir in the beans, the reserved liquid, vinegar, oregano and bay leaves. Add salt and pepper to taste. If you like a little heat, add a dash of cayenne or dried chipotle.
Bring the mixture to boil over medium high heat. Lower heat to lowest setting and cover. Let simmer for an additional 30 minutes. Serve and enjoy!