Monday, March 17, 2014

The secret to rice and beans

The secret is not the type of beans or the variety of rice.

It's this:

It's what you put with the rice and beans.

Your herb and spice cupboard is your secret.

The excitement comes from the additions.  The rice and beans provide a wide open canvas to be tailored specifically to your liking.  Think of garlicky hummus.  Think of black bean soup brimming with the hints of hidden vegetable flavor.  Think of a warm bowl of chili on a winter day.  Think of coconut rice, or my favorite snack from my childhood:  rice with butter, cinnamon and sugar.  (Now a little coconut oil subs nicely for the butter.). It's not the beans or rice that are vying for your attention.  Instead, they simply serve as the humble vehicle to deliver lovely flavors to your table.

That's it.  Flavor from herbs and spices and whatever else strikes your fancy.  

From bland to bravo.

(Now do you see why I love beans so much?)

This is our absolute favorite beans and rice dish.  It is comfortingly homey and full of herbaceous flavor.  And simple.  Of course.

Lentil Rice Casserole

2 cups brown rice
1 1/2 cups lentils
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon EACH:  sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil
2 cups chicken broth
4 cups water, heated to boiling

Combine rice, lentils, and seasonings in a lightly greased 9x13 glass baking dish.  Pour chicken broth and water over mixture and cover.  Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour, or until rice and lentils are cooked through and tender.

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