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

beef stir-fry with peppers + pea shoots

beef stir-fry with peppers + pea shoots | The Clever Carrot

My kids go through these unpredictable phases…

Sometimes it’s sleeping through the night, usually it’s not sleeping at all, and as of late it’s ‘borrowing’ things from the grocery store. Nothing stands a chance. All kinds of random things get stuffed into my bag, forcing me to keep a watchful eye on my little clepto’s. Yesterday, we made it home with an orange bell pepper (what? no fair trade dark chocolate bar with almonds + sea salt?!) and as you can see, it ended up in our dinner.

Hey, at least it wasn’t green.

beef stir-fry with peppers + pea shoots | The Clever Carrot

Keeping things neat and organized is definitely not my forte when making stir-fry’s. Ingredients are splayed out all over the place, and every Asian-stlye condiment known to man wants to join the party. It’s like a scene from Fruit Ninja.

So now, I have rules:

  • 3 ingredient minimum, usually 1 protein + 1-2 veggies.
  • Everything is prepped and ready to go before I start cooking.
  • Stir-fry sauce is made in advance and kept it in the fridge.
  • A ‘garbage’ bowl is kept nearby to collect the scraps.
  • Stir-fry in small batches to prevent the dish from becoming soggy.

Oh, and it is absolutely delicious over quinoa instead of rice.

beef stir-fry with peppers + pea shoots | The Clever Carrotpea shoots | The Clever Carrot

I’ve been re-kindling my love for pea shoots lately, and I have to say that they make an excellent addition. So light and fresh. Also, the mighty cast iron pan is used in lieu of a wok (don’t have one, or the space for it) with great results. The intense heat chars the the ingredients adding a nice smoky flavor. If you have one, I highly recommend giving it a try.

And now my friends, dinner is served.

beef stir-fry with peppers + pea shoots | The Clever Carrot

Tips:

  • For this recipe, I like to use top sirloin (not regular sirloin). You could also substitute with flank steak, however I find that it’s not quite as tender. For best results, thinly slice the flank steak against the grain and marinate the meat in half of the stir-fry sauce, about 10-15 minutes. You will need to double the sauce (recipe below).
  • To thinly slice the meat, a great trick is to pop it in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes, and then slice it with a sharp knife. You will have more control over your portion sizes this way. Let the meat rest before cooking to take the chill off.

beef stir-fry with peppers + pea shoots
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
Stir-fry sauce
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • ¼ c. beef stock
  • 1 heaped tsp. cornstarch
Meat + veggies
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. top sirloin, cut into thin ¼" slices*
  • 1 clove of garlic, grated
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled + grated
  • 1 c. chopped snow peas
  • 1 orange bell pepper, thinly sliced
Garnish
  • pea shoots
* I like to use top sirloin (not regular sirloin). You could also substitute with flank steak, however I find that it's not quite as tender. For best results, thinly slice the flank steak against the grain and marinate the meat in half of the stir-fry sauce, about 10-15 minutes. You will need to double the sauce (recipe below).
** Grate the garlic + ginger using a microplane.
Instructions
  1. In an empty jam jar, add all of the stir-fry sauce ingredients and shake well until the honey is dissolved. You can also whisk everything together in a small bowl.
  2. Warm the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large cast iron skillet (or saute pan).
  3. Using tongs, add a portion of the meat to the pan and give it a quick sear, about 1-2 minutes. Do not over crowd the skillet. Remove the meat and transfer to a plate. Continue to cook in small batches to prevent the dish from becoming soggy.
  4. To the pan, add a little bit more olive oil and the grated garlic and ginger. Stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  5. Add the snow peas and saute until crisp tender. Remove from the pan.
  6. Add the bell pepper and saute until soft. Remove from the pan.
  7. Add the stir-fry sauce and bring to a quick boil to thicken.
  8. Add the meat + veggies back to the pan and stir to warm through.
  9. Garnish with pea shoots right before serving.
  10. Serve over quinoa or rice.