Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Red Beans and Rice with Coconut Milk and Veggies

When it comes to cooking, I lean heavily on Mark Bittman’s lovely books How to Cook Everything (which is like a kitchen Bible that can help you do everything from making a perfect hamburger to figuring out how to chop up turnips if you’ve never encountered them before) and FoodMatters (which looks at how we can eat less meat and more vegetables and generally eat more sensibly). This red beans and rice recipe is my simplified version of recipes from both books. I live on my own and work in the afternoons so I usually need a meal I can reheat all week so this recipe serves 7-9 bowls of red beans and rice to one hungry person. You could halve the recipe for a meal for 2-4 people, or you could freeze half and eat it later.

The beans ­
– 1 pound bag of kidney beans
You can make these the night before or even in the morning before you head to work.
Wash the beans, pick them over to make sure you get rid of the icky looking ones, and then put in a big pot and fill with cold water – enough so there’s about 3 inches above the beans. Bring the pot to a boil, then turn down low so it just bubbles, cover and leave for 30 minutes. Check the tenderness of the beans – really it’s dealer’s choice here if you prefer your beans softer or with more a nuttiness. Once they’ve reached your desired tenderness, salt and pepper and turn the heat off. If you’re gonna make the rest later, stick the pot in the fridge and pull it out when you plan on making the rest.

The rest
- 2 cups rice (basmati, long grain white or brown rice, or a mix) – rinsed several times
- 2 zucchini/squash chopped
- 2 cans 14.5 or 16 oz cans diced tomatoes with juice
- 1 can 16 oz can coconut milk
- One tablespoon cumin, one tablespoon paprika, and any other spices that strike your fancy (I don’t go in for super spicy, but you could always jazz this up with cayenne or the like)
- ¼ cup slivered almonds (optional, adds a nice texture)
Start heating the beans in liquid back to boiling while you open your cans, chop your veggies and rinse the rice. Add everything to the pot and stir. Once it all boils, then turn it down low, cover and cook for about 30 minutes. The kind of rice you use will determine the time it will take for it to be cooked – the rice will be using all the liquids in the pot to get cooked. Basmati and white will cook up faster than brown rice – I used a mixture of brown and basmati. You will want to stir occasionally and check the consistency. Throw in the almonds (if you’re using them) when the rice is almost done. Ultimately with this recipe it’s all about what you want – if you want a soupier red beans and rice, then once the rice is cooked, you can probably serve. If you want a thicker stew or less liquid, then once the rice is cooked increase the temp, take the lid off and stir until the consistency is right. Serve right away.

This keeps for a while in the fridge. Overnight the rice and beans will soak up even more of the liquid so if you’re reheating the next day it will be thicker – if you’re cool with that, then eat up, but if you want it to be soupier add a quarter cup water or stock when reheating.
You can always load this up with more vegetables – green or red peppers, more tomatoes, onions, or whatever else makes your heart happy. It’s a nice simple and hearty dinner. Enjoy!

Note: Guest writer J.Brendan Shaw blogs about books at and about music at

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