Healthy Eating: Peasant Food (Rice and Beans Three Ways)
- January 25, 2012
- on 1/25/2012
- MoJo: April Finnen
If you’ve read much lately from the food writing elite, you may have noticed a trend toward what these authors call “peasant food.” This means traditional diets—heavy on vegetables, and light on meat, particularly the expensive cuts. And processed food? Forget it.
Michael Pollan advises, “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.” He also offers dozens more simple axioms in Food Rules. It makes sense. But making these changes in the real world can be tough.
One small thing you can do: master one “rice and beans” recipe, and work it into your regular rotation. Nearly every culture has a staple rice and bean dish. Try one of these recipes for rice and beans with a kick.
White bean chicken chili, adapted from Mark Bittman, How to Cook Everything (Chili Non Carne variation):
Cooking time: About 2 ½ hours, but most of that is unattended
1 pound dried white beans, such as cannellini or navy (**see note for canned bean option)
1 whole onion, and 1 chopped onion
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 to 2 cups cooked, chopped chicken*
1 jalapeno or hot pepper, minced (or you can substitute 1 tsp. cayenne powder)
1 tsp. cumin powder
2 tsp. chili powder
2-3 cloves garlic, minced (or 1 tsp. garlic powder)
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, for garnish
cooked brown rice for serving (optional)
*This is a fantastic way to use leftover grilled or rotisserie chicken. If you aren’t going to make the chili within a day or two, chop the chicken leftovers, and freeze them (thaw before using in recipe). To make this vegetarian, just omit the chicken—it’s still a hearty meal.
Put the beans and whole onion in a large pot, and cover with water by at least two inches. Bring the beans to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and partially cover. Cook for about an hour, then add salt and pepper, and continue to cook the beans until they are tender, but not falling apart (another 30 minutes to an hour).
Drain the beans, and save about 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Discard the whole onion (if you peeled it, you might have to dig around for the pieces). **If you want to use canned beans, you’ll need two 15-16 ounce cans of white beans. Simply drain and rinse the canned beans, and start the recipe from this point, using chicken broth or water in place of the bean cooking liquid. Starting from pre-cooked or canned beans, you can make this in about 30 minutes.
Add the cooked beans back to the pot, along with the chicken, chopped onion, hot pepper (or cayenne), cumin, chili powder and garlic. Add about one cup of the remaining bean cooking liquid (or broth or water). Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until all the flavors have mingled, 20 to 30 minutes more. Stir occasionally, and add a bit more water if the chili looks too thick.
Taste and adjust the salt and pepper, and serve garnished with chopped fresh cilantro. This chili is great served over brown rice or with fresh cornbread.
Two more fun ways to eat rice and beans:
- · Give January the heave-ho with Jamaican-inspired slow cooker red beans and rice, from Stephanie O’Dea, A Year of Slow Cooking.
- · This Indian yellow peas and rice with onion relish (Golden Kichuri), from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, has made it into my family’s regular rotation (don’t tell ‘em it’s vegan!).
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