Archive | May 2016

Caribbean Rice and Beans

Caribbean Rice and Beans

Rice and beans are one of those meals that can go from bland and boring to delectable and delicious with just a few ingredients. With the addition of a couple of vegetables and a bit of spice, a very plain side dish can quickly become a desirable main course. Most people generally think of the Cajuns or Latin Americans when they think of a flavorful recipe for rice and beans, but one spot on the map to not overlook is the Caribbean.

The islands in the Caribbean have a unique array of culinary influence. Varying from island to island, there is often a fusion of French, British, Mexican, Spanish and African flavors with one usually dominating the other, depending on the island.

I recently prepared this month’s recipe while on a sailing trip to the Caribbean with a group of friends. After sampling various styles of rice and beans on the islands of Antigua, Guadalupe, and Dominica, I did my best to replicate an authentic version, while only using the ingredients that I had available to me in the galley of the boat.  The finished product was a hit with my fellow mates, and I was pleased with how easy it was to prepare a fairly authentic and healthy meal with such limited ingredients.

This recipe for rice and beans is an excellent source of protein and fiber. The addition of coconut milk adds a bit of sweetness and complexity, while also enhancing the nutritional quality. Coconut milk has gotten a bad rap over the years for its high levels of saturated fat; however, recent studies have shown it to actually aid in weight loss, while also enhancing the immune system and improving hair and skin. This recipe is great by itself, but I prefer it with a side salad, a little sliced avocado and my favorite hot sauce. Serves 6-8.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup long grain white or brown rice
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 1 can light coconut milk (divided in half)
  • 1-2 tablespoons coconut or olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large tomato (or 2 Roma tomatoes), diced
  • 1 can black beans, drained and washed
  • ¼ cup water or vegetable stock
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar (optional)
  • dash of hot sauce such as Frank’s or Cholula
  • 1 cup chopped parsley or cilantro

Preparation:

  1. Place rice, water and half the can of coconut milk in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 15-20 minutes until the liquid is absorbed.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a sauté pan/skillet at medium-high heat. Add the onion, pepper, and garlic and sauté for a few minutes until it softens, stirring constantly.
  3. Add the black beans, water/stock, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper and the other half of the can of coconut milk. Bring to a light simmer (at medium-low heat) and cook for about 5-7 minutes until about half of the liquid has cooked off and the beans have thoroughly heated through.
  4. Add the vinegar (if desired), hot sauce and herbs to the beans, and either mix the beans thoroughly into the rice or simply serve them over top.

Nutrition Facts:

Calories: 210 / Fat: 6g / Saturated Fat: 4g / Carbohydrates: 34g / Fiber: 6g / Protein: 6g

Brandon McDearis is the owner of Your Way Cuisine, www.yourwaycuisine.com, a personal chef and nutrition consulting business. He is also a professional wanderer that spends much of his year trotting the globe and working in places such as Alaska, Australia, and Antarctica.