Friday Foodie: Black Beans and Rice with Papaya Salsa

I finally remembered to take pictures as I was cooking!

This is a staple at our house through the spring and summer. One of the few dishes I make that can actually be done in 30-40 minutes, especially if you’re faster with a knife than I am.

Here are the ingredients. Ok, it took 2 pictures because I forgot some the first time. Keep in mind that I cook for leftovers. This will feed 5 people for dinner once, plus lunch and a side dish the next night.

You really want to make the salsa first so it has time to blend while everything else cooks. Papayas are ripe when they’re yellow, but you can’t let them go too far or they just taste funky. So grab your papayas and … ok, there’s a dirty joke in there somewhere … anyway, peel, seed and chop two ripe papayas into bite-sized pieces.

Put them in a glass bowl to marinate because the acid from both the papayas and the limes will etch the heck out of plastic.

Grate the zest of two limes, then squeeze them for juice. Add lime zest and juice to the bowl, along with a sprinkle of kosher salt. You’re going for a balance of flavors here – sweet from the papaya, sour and bitter from the lime, and salty. Mmmm, perfect..

Now pop the bowl into the fridge and we’ll start cooking.

1 onion, chopped
3-5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, chopped
olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and add the chopped veg until onions are translucent and on their way to golden. I add the onions and peppers first, then the garlic because if the garlic hits the hot oil, it’ll burn immediately. Waiting a few seconds gives the temperature time to even out a little.

 

 

Drain and rinse the 3 cans of black beans, then add to your base veg.
Add in your spices:
red pepper and/or ground chipotle pepper (smoky awesomeness!)
cumin
chili powder
It’s tough to give exact measurements because honestly, I just wing it. We’re big cumin fans here, so I always add more than a recipe calls for.

(I forgot to take a picture of a couple of ingredients, so you here go.)

Now add 2-3 cups of chicken stock. I go on the skimpy side because I don’t like my beans soupy, but other folks do. So to paraphrase Denethor: “Go now and add chicken stock in what way seems best to you.”

Stir in a bay leaf, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While the beans are simmering, make a pot of rice to serve along with it.

When the beans are done, add the merest sploosh of red wine vinegar to the pot to give it a little wake-up. And serve! Rice, then beans, then salsa over the top.

Healthy and cheap. Even with the papayas, this whole dish won’t be more than, say, $7. Feeding 5 people, plus leftovers for $7? A total bargain!

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