My first time eating rice and beans was one of the most exciting weeks of my life to date.
It was a trip booked on a whim to visit a friend in Ecuador. Somewhere in between showering at a strangers house and hopping on the back of a different strangers' motorcycle barefoot & helmetless (sorry dad), I ate rice and beans for the first time.
We were at a little beachside shack that served mounds, I mean MOUNDS of rice absolutely piled with beans for $3. Somehow we stumbled upon a dozen new friends and were surrounded by the liveliest people eating the cheapest dinner at 11pm. It was one of those, 'how did I end up in this exact spot with these people loving my life at such an extreme level' kind've moments.
The man who was serving up the rice and beans was also cooking chicken on one of those grills that a deli would bring if they were catering a BBQ. Wanna know how he kept the flames in check?
A hairdryer. The only regret I live with is not getting a video of it. He was literally stoking the fire on his grill with a hairdryer.
Anyway, this is a recipe reminiscent of that beyond magical week. You can totally dress it up, add some avocado/pico/mushrooms/broccoli rabe/meat/cheese/whatever you're into. This is more of a concept recipe, not so much a color in the lines recipe.
Vegan Black Bean Stuffed Bell Peppers
makes 4 peppers
1 cup dry rice (I use Trader Joe's Quick-Cook Brown Rice)
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
2 limes, zested and juiced
1 handful cilantro
1 shallot, diced
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 TBSP olive oil
1 16oz can black beans (don't rinse!)
1 small tomato, diced
4 bell peppers
Prepare the rice:
In a medium saucepan, combine the rice, stock, cilantro and lime zest (save the juice for later). You can totally add a little glug of olive oil and pinch of salt here as well.Prepare as the rice suggests on the side of the bag (the one I used was bring to a boil and let simmer for 10 minutes until fluffy- ain't nobody got time for traditional rice!). Now add the lime juice!
Prepare the beans (you can do this while the rice is simmering, you're good like that):
In a different pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add in the diced shallot. Cook until just translucent and add the garlic- cook for another minute or so before adding your spices. Add the spices and keep over medium heat for another minute until everything is super aromatic and delightful- then add the tomato and beans (can juice and all!) to the pot. Cook over medium/medium low stirring occasionally until the water thickens and is just barely covering the beans, about 15 minutes or so.
At this point you can turn the grill on and warm it up to medium/medium-high heat.
Either chop the tops off the peppers and pull out the guts (white pithy parts and seeds) or chop in half and do the same- either way works! Brush the inside and out of the pepper with olive oil then sprinkle with salt & pepper.
Combine the rice with the beans and stuff the peppers! Look at that! You're doing the thing!
Here's the best part- take squares of foil. Place one pepper on the center of the square and make a lil pouch out of the foil so it can steam. Throw those babies on the grill and then close it for about 15 minutes until you hear things sizzling and you are golden. You didn't even have to turn the oven on and make your whole house hot! This is a summertime dream that also makes it excellent camping food- all you have to do is prep the rice and beans ahead of time and keep them in your cooler until you're ready to eat!
Serve with your favorite hot sauce, unless your favorite hot sauce is not Cholula in which case you're wrong. I won't be mad at you if you find a way to get some guac on there either.