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Venezuelan black beans & cilantro rice

August 3, 2010

This is part two of the Latin American feast that began with yesterday’s onion-pepper sofrito, which you’ll need in order to make these beans. Apparently, Venezuelans shy away from heat and strong flavors, so these beans are not only exceedingly mild, but pleasantly sweet, thanks to the inclusion of brown sugar (you can use the more authentic panela, if you happen to have some). Matt, a spice-phobe, loved how sweet the beans were, while I, a spice-a-holic, added some hot sauce (Sontava habañero is my favorite for Western foods) to complement said sweetness.

I hesitate to even say this, but you could substitute three cans of black beans for the dry…but please don’t! You really don’t want to miss out on the incredible texture and firm bite that homecooked beans lend to this dish. I’ll make the directions as clear-cut and foolproof as I can—I promise!

For the beans:
1 lb dry black beans
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 bay leaf
1 cup onion-pepper sofrito
1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp ground cumin
Hot sauce to taste (optional)

Put the beans in a large pot, add enough water to cover by 2 inches, and let soak 8-10 hours, or overnight. Drain and rinse the beans, return them to the pot, and add 5 cups cold water. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, turn the heat to low, and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add water, 1 cup at a time, if the beans start to get dry. The beans are ready when they are firm to the bite but tender inside, and still hold their shape and don’t smash when you stir them.

If there’s any water remaining, drain it off and return the beans to the pot. (If you’re using canned beans [::sigh::], this is when you’d rinse and drain them and place them in a pot on the stove.) Add all remaining ingredients and cook over medium heat for 45 minutes, stirring often and adding water, about 1/2 cup at a time, as necessary. (Remove the bay leaf before serving.)

Yield: 12 servings.
Per serving (about 1/2 cup): 182 calories, 4.2g fat (1g sat), 28.5g carbs, 7g fiber, 8.7g protein.

Terry Romero’s Yellow Rice with Garlic (in Viva Vegan) gets its neon hue from the use of annatto oil, which I don’t have. I used chile oil and added a pinch of turmeric to give mine a little color anyway, but you don’t have to. You can also use vegetable broth in place of the water + bouillon.

For the rice:
2 1/2 Tbsp chile oil (or olive oil)
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups long-grain brown rice
2 3/4 cups water
1 Tbsp vegan bouillon
1/4 tsp sea salt
Pinch of turmeric
1/4 chopped cilantro

In a large heavy pot, combine the oil and garlic over medium heat. Cook until the garlic is sizzling and fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the rice and stir to coat thoroughly with the oil. Add the water, bouillon, salt, and turmeric.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for 35-40 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.

Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes, then transfer the rice to a large bowl or container. Add the cilantro, and more turmeric if you want it to be a brighter yellow.

Fluff with a fork to combine.

Yield: 12 servings.
Per serving (about 1/2 cup): 114 calories, 3.5g fat (.5g sat), 18.6g carbs, 1g fiber, 2g protein.

Come back tomorrow for the mouthwatering seitan dish that will complete this Latin American feast!

If you like this, you might also like…
Rainbow Mexi-quinoa medley
Black bean-avocado enchiladas
Chilaquiles casserole

18 Comments leave one →
  1. August 3, 2010 1:37 pm

    This looks fantastic! If I could I would eat this every week. I never tire of black beans! Nice job!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      August 4, 2010 12:10 pm

      Same here! Beans in general are one of my favorite foods.

  2. August 3, 2010 1:42 pm

    I am so jealous that your beans and rice came out so perfect! Funny how you mentioned to add more water, a cup at a time, if the beans get dry as they’re cooking. I left my beans unattended, thinking there was enough water, and the bottom ones ended up burning! lol. They need to be babysat I tell ya!!! 😛

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      August 4, 2010 12:11 pm

      Yikes! Don’t feel bad though, that’s happened to me as well. They DO require babysitting! 😛

  3. August 3, 2010 2:37 pm

    Good gravy, do I love black beans.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      August 4, 2010 12:12 pm

      Ditto, especially in/with Mexican dishes.

  4. August 3, 2010 7:59 pm

    I am always up for a Latin American feast. I am impressed by your use of spices. I am lacking as a cook because I don’t truly understand spices, and I always end up leaving them out of recipes because I don’t have them . : (

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      August 4, 2010 12:13 pm

      Aw, thank you for the compliment! A well-stocked spice cabinet is a must for me. I’d say to just build yours up slowly, buying what you need when you need it, and pretty soon you will have amassed a decent, varied collection.

  5. August 3, 2010 9:31 pm

    Oooh! You’ve completely reminded me that I have half a bag of dried black beans (mine are called “turtle beans” for some strange reason) in the cupboard! I bought them when I was doing the house-sitting-from-hell, and completely forgot about them.

    I’m with you, though, sister – I’ll be hot-saucing this up like there’s no tomorrow 😀

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      August 4, 2010 12:16 pm

      I’ve heard of turtle beans, but didn’t know they were the same as (or very similar to) black beans, hehe.

      Definitely be liberal with the hot sauce! Do you have access to Latin American hot sauces down under? If not, one of those may just need to go in the bloggie swap! 😀

      • August 4, 2010 7:00 pm

        Normally all I see anywhere is Tabasco, but just the other day I spotted Cholula in my local supermarket. Is that a good one? But usually it’s jsut tabasco, so I would LOVE one of your favourites in the swap!

        • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
          August 5, 2010 1:16 pm

          Cholula is pretty good! It’s like the Mexican Tabasco, as far as ubiquity goes; there’s a bottle of it on every table of every Mexican restaurant in the Midwest. But I could certainly send you a bottle of Sontava, my favorite, in our swap!

  6. Sarah McCarty Dowis permalink
    August 4, 2010 10:43 am

    Wow that looks delicious! I’m adding it to my list of meals to make this
    weekend – I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      August 4, 2010 12:16 pm

      Awesome! Make sure not to miss today’s post though, which will be the completion of this meal—Cuban shredded seitan :] It’ll be up this afternoon. Whichever components you end up making, do let me know how they turn out!

  7. August 4, 2010 12:25 pm

    This looks and sounds amazing! I’m with Jenny on the spices..I lack in that area. I am slowly building up the pantry with them though. I am definitely adding this to my “must make & eat” list! :o)

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      August 4, 2010 12:39 pm

      Good deal! Be sure to report back on the results 😛

      You’ll get there on the spices. If I had to pick my top 3 must-haves, I’d say ground cumin, curry powder, and oregano. Cumin + curry (or curry alone) = Indian, cumin + oregano = Mexican, and oregano alone = Italian!

  8. August 6, 2010 7:10 am

    Yep definitely want to make this and soon… looks so good right now. We always make rice in the rice cooker these days.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      August 6, 2010 9:23 am

      I used to have a rice cooker, but it was pretty crappy. I hope to get another one someday, one of those really nice ones…I think the name starts with a Z, but I can’t remember what they’re called…

      Although I didn’t use the technique in this recipe, you might be interested (just in case you ever find yourself rice-cooker-less) in this Saveur article I read about the perfect technique for cooking brown rice. I’ve only done it that way once so far, but it really did work like a charm.

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