Monday, March 2, 2009

Black Beans and Rice

Culinary simplicity

On Friday I went to lunch at a Mexican grill place called Costa Vida; I had a great steak taco on a whole wheat tortilla (made fresh in front of me) with a side of black beans and rice. While the taco was fantastic, the taste of the black beans and rice stuck with me over the weekend. There was something simple, natural, and flavorful about them.

Yesterday the urge to taste them again was overwhelming, so I took some rice I had made up, opened a can of black beans, and combined the two. I added some Cholula hot sauce, a little oregano, a pinch of salt, and just a hint of Worchestershire sauce. It was exquisite. All the flavors combining, the subtlety of the beans, the rice keeping everything in check so nothing becomes over powering, the Worchestershire sauce adding a great salty background flavor. I couldn't believe such a simple meal could be so wonderful and highly nutritional. And the total cost of it was about $0.30.

I suppose I shouldn't be so suprised. Much of the world's population subsists on rice, beans, and variations thereof. If it's good enough for over a billion people I see no reason why it shouldn't be good enough for me. Rice and beans are both rather high in protein and fiber and extremely low in fat. Beans are something I've never used much in cooking; they always seemed foreign to me in the kitchen. Growing up in Minnesota the cooking usually consisted of potatoes, maybe chicken, and canned corn/peas/green beans. Only when chili was made would my parents use kidney beans. Just in the past month I tried making chili and have I started using beans. I used to make a black beans and rice dish with peppers and Caribbean seasonings -- which is extremely good -- but it was always a bit fancier and took more preparation. I think the peppers overpowered the rice and beans. Actually I know they did. Without them, the natural flavors of can compliment the light sauce additions creating an earthy flavor that tastes like life itself.

I have a feeling that some black beans, some rice, and a little hot sauce will become a new staple for me around home.

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