I have to be honest, when I was younger, my Mom used to offer up Spanish rice as a side-dish, and I wouldn’t touch it. There was something too mysterious (and tomato-y) about it for my young and finicky mind. I avoided it for years, I wouldn’t eat it at restaurants, and certainly never at potlucks. I’m not sure what spurred my recent interest in it, but I’ve realized I’ve been missing out.
This simple Spanish rice recipe is super easy to make, can be altered and added too at will, is extremely inexpensive, and it tastes good. What could be better? It might be my new favorite food. The black beans add protein, sliced avocado on top adds a little creamy decadence. I served this dish first in big bowls, accompanied by roasted okra and zucchini. I had it for dinner the next day in tacos, with cabbage and onion slaw. It would also be excellent for breakfast, with scrambled or fried eggs. This recipe makes a lot of food – be ready to share, make creative leftovers or cut it down.
I am a religious cooker of my own beans, and I think they are essential to the overall yumminess of this recipe. I soak black beans overnight, then throw them in the slow cooker before I leave for work in the morning. I fearlessly throw spices and dried chili peppers into the mix, leaving about 3-4 inches of water to cover the beans. I cook them on low for 6-8 hours and return to a spicy-smelling-dinner-ready house. If this wild west cooking method is frightening to you, Cafe Johnsonia offers a lovely (and much more organized) recipe for black beans.
2 Cups cooked black beans and 2 cups of the broth the beans cooked in
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 Cups white rice
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes (I prefer San Marzano)
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 onion, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil over medium heat in a large, heavy bottomed skillet.
Add rice to the skillet, stirring frequently. Cook rice until toasted and slightly brown, about 3 minutes.
Add garlic and onion to the toasty rice, and cook, stirring frequently until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes more.
While the rice/onion/garlic trifecta is browning, bring the tomatoes (and their broth) to a simmer in a heavy pot with a lid.
Add the rice mixture to the simmering tomatoes. Stir.
Add the black bean broth to the simmering rice and tomatoes. This is where the magic happens. If you made your own beans, and spiced them with abandon and love, the juice they are in is going to be full of spicy, delicious flavor, and that flavor is going to be imparted on your rice. Yum.
*Canned bean juice will also work just fine, but it won’t be full of flavor. I’m not sure it will have any flavor. I would recommend veggie broth instead if you go the canned bean route.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Bring the dish to a low simmer, cover and cook for 20-35 minutes, depending on the type of rice you used and how much you’re making.
Fluff with a fork when finished. I like to combine my black beans into the rice at this stage, then serve with sliced avocado and shredded cotija or cheddar. Some chopped onions and lime juice go a long way as well. I roasted okra and zucchini to go alongside this meal, but both those veggies would be good thrown into the rice as well.