heirloom bean stew with dill + coconut cream

heirloom bean stew with dill + coconut cream | theclevercarrot.com

Is eating a chore?

The thought in question comes from an interesting conversation with my cousin.

She loves food; a good cheese, a nice salad, brownie corners…

But the process can be unpleasant.

(Plan it, prep it, make it, clean it)

By the time you eat it, you’re exhausted….

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cuban-style black beans + rice with coconut cream

cuban-style black beans + rice with coconut cream | The Clever Carrot

This morning, I woke up wanting to be a vegetarian…

I’m not all that shocked really, as I tend to go through these phases every now and then. Sometimes it’s boycotting meat, maybe sugar, and then I go back to being normal again (whatever that is). I’ve learned to just give in to these cravings and I feel much better when I do. It’s my body’s way of balancing.

Currently, I’m into rice and beans.

cuban-style black beans + rice with coconut cream | The Clever Carrot

Last week we spoke about budget meals, and this recipe is a continuation of that theme. Whether you make a big pot yourself or use canned as I’ve done here, incorporating beans into your diet is an excellent source of (inexpensive) plant-based protein. The best way to describe this dish is ‘black beans meets the islands.’ It was inspired by the lovely vegetarian creations over at Fare Isle.

To make this, I sauté red onion and bell pepper with a hint of cumin. I add the beans, and gently simmer with stock. It’s served on a bed of basmati rice and topped with juicy grape tomatoes and avocado. For extra flavor, I quickly marinate the tomatoes in olive oil, salt, and herbs while preparing the rest of the ingredients. The tomatoes create this incredible juice that adds just the right amount of acidity to this dish.

I finish with a drizzle of thick coconut cream for a little island flare. Pure heaven.

cuban-style black beans + rice with coconut cream | The Clever Carrot

You know what else would make this nice and island-y? One of these… I can never say no to a margarita. This whole vegetarian thing is going to suit me quite well. It falls right in line with my current cravings and the topic of budget meals. Plus, if margaritas are vegetarian friendly I might need a few after all of this packing- oh the joys of moving!

And while we’re at it, happy Cinco de Mayo, friends!

Tips:

  • What’s the difference between coconut milk and coconut cream? Coconut milk is thin in consistency and is the base for most Asian-style curries. Coconut cream is a lot thicker and often used in desserts. Both versions are unsweetened. There is also ‘cream of coconut’ which is a sweetened version of coconut cream. I’m using regular coconut cream for this recipe for it’s thick, rich texture. 

cuban-style black beans + rice with coconut cream
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
Beans
  • 2x 14 oz. cans black beans, rinsed + drained
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • ½ tsp. cumin
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 c. chicken or vegetable stock
  • olive oil
  • salt + pepper
Marinated tomatoes
  • 1 pint mini grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 tbsp. roughly chopped cilantro or parsley
  • olive oil
  • salt + pepper
Rice
  • 2 c. basmati rice
Coconut
  • 1 can of coconut cream*
Garnish
  • Avocado, fresh cilantro and lime wedges
*What's the difference between coconut milk and coconut cream? Coconut milk is thin in consistency and is the base for most Asian-style curries. Coconut cream is a lot thicker and often used in desserts. Both versions are unsweetened. There is also 'cream of coconut' which is a sweetened version of coconut cream. I'm using coconut cream for this recipe for it's thick, rich texture.
Instructions
  1. Cook the rice according to the package instructions. Set aside.
  2. Gently warm the coconut cream until it becomes liquid. Transfer to a bowl; it will slightly thicken again as it sits.
  3. Add the sliced tomatoes and herbs to a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss gently to combine. Allow the tomatoes to marinate while you prepare the rest of the dish.
  4. In a large skillet, warm a splash of olive oil over moderate heat. Add the onion, peppers and cumin. Saute until soft and golden, about 10-15 minutes.
  5. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  6. Add the beans.
  7. Add the stock and bring to a gentle simmer. Taste and season with extra salt and pepper as desired.
  8. To serve, portion the rice onto plates. Add the beans, and top with marinated tomatoes and any of their juices. Garnish with chunks of avocado, cilantro, and drizzle with coconut cream. Serve with fresh lime wedges.

cuban-style black beans + rice with coconut cream | The Clever Carrot

no-cook mediterranean chicken salad

no-cook mediterranean chicken salad | The Clever Carrot

Have you ever noticed how dramatic people get about the weather?

Take me for example… When it’s cold and miserable outside, I dream about moving to Hawaii or some other fabulous island where I can live the good life in the sun (House Hunter’s Int’l anyone?) On the other hand, when it’s a million degrees out I feel like I’m boiling to death and can’t seem to get anything done, like now.

Then your air conditioner breaks.

Everyone’s cranky…

And you have to do things like make dinner.

Ugh…dinner.

no-cook mediterranean chicken salad | The Clever Carrot

Just because I blog about food, don’t let me fool you into thinking that I have endless dinner ideas. It’s quite the opposite. I often struggle with dinner because I think about it way too late in the day. By 4 o’clock my brain turns to dust and I am good for nothing. And when it’s hot and humid outside? With no AC? Forget about it! I don’t even want to look at the stove. And I don’t.

I hop in the car and buy one of those precooked rotisserie chickens. They’re a lifesaver when you don’t feel like cooking. I use it to make this Mediterranean chicken salad along with my go-to pantry staples of marinated artichoke hearts and white beans.

no-cook mediterranean chicken salad | The Clever Carrot

Now here’s the fun part; basil marinated tomatoes. Yum! It’s a little restaurant trick that I learned and I can’t even tell you how much flavor this adds. I combine sliced grape tomatoes with basil, red onions, olive oil, and salt & pepper at room temperature. The basil infuses into the tomatoes while the olive oil and salt create this incredible ‘juice.’ It sounds fancy, but I promise you it’s not. It’s delicious. Just give yourself at least 30 minutes to marinate, however the longer it sits the better it will taste.

no-cook mediterranean chicken salad | The Clever Carrot

And do you want to know the irony of  it all? Without even realizing it, this dish is a ‘no-cook’ version of this recipe. Who knew? It didn’t even occur to me until I was typing up the ingredients for this post. I guess the dust has settled and my brain is working after all.

PS- The air conditioner is up and running again! (3 days later…)

Tips:

  • If you are making this in advance, only add the basil marinated tomatoes right before serving (otherwise the juices will turn the chicken & mozzarella pink! Not that it’s a bad thing…)
  • Precooked grains including quinoa, wheat berries, and bulgur (even fun pasta shapes) make a great addition to this recipe.
  • Excellent pantry substitutions/additions include chickpeas, sun-dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives and roasted red peppers.
  • If you have your own herb garden, now is the time to utilize what you’ve got! Be generous with the basil, parsley and chives. They add wonderful summer flavor.
no-cook mediterranean chicken salad
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
Basil marinated tomatoes
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • ½ c. basil
  • ⅓ c. thinly sliced red onion
  • ⅓ c. olive oil
  • salt & pepper
Chicken salad
  • 1x 1½ lb. rotisserie chicken
  • 1x 14 oz. jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1x 14 oz. can white beans, drained & rinsed (I used northern white beans)
  • 1 large celery stalk
  • 1 small tub marinated bocconcini (bite-size mozzarella)
  • ¼ c. red wine vinegar
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
Garnish
  • roughly chopped basil, parsley, chives & celery leaves to taste
Notes:
*If you are making this in advance, add the basil marinated tomatoes to the rest of the salad right before serving (otherwise the juices will turn the chicken & mozzarella pink! Not that it's a bad thing...)
*Precooked grains including quinoa, wheat berries, and bulgur (even fun pasta shapes) make a great addition to this recipe.
*Excellent pantry substitutions/additions include chickpeas, sun-dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives and roasted red peppers.
*If you have your own herb garden, now is the time to utilize what you've got! Be generous with the basil, parsley and chives. They add wonderful summer flavor.
Instructions
  1. To make the basil marinated tomatoes, add the sliced tomatoes to a large bowl. Stack the basil leaves on top of each other, roll them up, and thinly slice into ribbons. Using a mandolin, slice the red onions as thin as possible. Add the basil and onion to the bowl. Top with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Mix well to coat. Let sit at room temperature minimum 30 minutes- 3 hours.
  2. Grab yourself a large bowl for the salad.
  3. Using the white meat, dark meat, or a combination of both, cut the chicken into bite-size chunks. You will need about 2-3 cups. Add to the bowl.
  4. Add the artichoke hearts and beans. Using a mandolin, thinly slice the celery directly into the bowl. Add the bocconcini, breaking them in half with your fingers.
  5. Add the basil marinated tomatoes and all of its juice.
  6. Add the red wine vinegar and toss well.
  7. Taste the salad and season with extra salt and pepper. Drizzle extra olive oil and vinegar to taste.
  8. Garnish with roughly chopped basil, parsley, chives & celery leaves.