Quick Dinners: Black Beans and Rice

I haven't blogged about food or posted a recipe lately, but I realized that it's because I haven't been cooking much. I've been a little more busy than normal, and even on the occasions I do cook either it's not exciting enough to post or I never find the time to post the stuff I really do like.

So, with my busy-ish schedule I've been relying on a few standby recipes that are quick, easy and that I usually have most of the ingredients for. So, I thought I'd share them with you starting with the one I've been making the longest: Black Beans and Rice.

I really learned to cook from Mollie Katzen (of the Moosewood series). I was just out of college, a temporary vegetarian and living with four roommates while I did Lutheran Volunteer Corps. I just learned by trying things - some worked; many didn't. But I turned to Moosewood books more than any other, and had the most success with them. A lot of the things in my "pantry" are still based on her recipes.

Here's what I usually keep around (that allows me to make most of the quick dinners). I haven't included spices or the true staples like butter, salt, oil, milk, etc. Those are are a "No duh."

Pantry staples:
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Salsa
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Tomato sauce
  • Frozen corn
  • Cheese (usually some hard Italian and cheddar)
  • Bread
  • Chicken and vegetable broth
  • Pasta
  • Polenta (either dry or in tubes)
  • Brown rice
  • Eggs
  • Black beans
  • Chickpeas
You'll notice that most of the ingredients in Black Beans and Rice are in my pantry staples. Which is probably why this is the recipe I've returned to again and again. So often, it's actually become a comfort food. You can't really screw this up. So, make it your own and enjoy!

Black Beans & Rice
Based on the Basic Skillet Black Beans in Moosewood Restaurant New Classics

2 t olive or vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloved garlic, diced
1/2 t ground coriander
1 t ground cumin
1 t chili powder
3 cups cooked black beans (two 15-ounce cans, rinsed and drained)
1 cup salsa
2 cups chopped tomatoes (one 15-ounce can, with juice)
1/2 cup frozen corn
Whatever vegetables you have on hand - I usually opt for carrots and/or peppers

In a skillet, heat oil on medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and spices and stir for a minute to toast the spices. Add the corn and any other vegetables and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the salsa and tomatoes, and simmer for a few minutes. Add the black beans and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes until everything is thickened.

Serve over rice and, if you like, top with sour cream, cilantro or cheese.

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