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

simple baked risotto

simple baked risotto / The Clever CarrotThe last time I made risotto, I caught my 4 year old trying to give the cat a haircut.

You see?

This is what happens when you decide to make risotto at 5 o’clock on a weeknight. You become a slave to the stove, frantically stirring away while your kids try to pull a fast one on you (the cat survived). What was I thinking?! Gone are the days my friends.

This is baked risotto.

simple baked risotto / The Clever Carrot

No stirring, no babysitting. Your oven does all of the work.

All you need is a Dutch oven and a couple of basic ingredients to get started. I flavor my risotto with leeks, however a small onion or maybe some shallots would work as well. Give them a quick sauté, and then add your aborio rice. Cover with liquid and bake for 45 minutes. Because of the natural starches, there is no need to douse it in extra butter and cream. The result is a rich and oozy risotto rival to any restaurant.

Boring you say? But wait- think of the possibilities…

simple baked risotto / The Clever Carrot

Blistered cherry tomatoes with baby artichokes + torn mozzarella •

simple baked risotto / The Clever Carrot

Portobello mushrooms with shredded chicken + herbs •

While your risotto is in the oven, use that time to whip up a quick topping if you want. I used the leftovers from our Superbowl antipasti platter (yes, that’s how we roll) to make the first dish. For the second version, I combined bits and pieces of leftover roast chicken with sautéed mushrooms.

Then I threw it all together in one pot just because I was curious… it was so good!

simple baked risotto / The Clever Carrot

One last thing- when your risotto comes out of the oven it will be quite liquid, which is how it’s supposed to be. If you prefer a bit thicker, just let it sit so that the rice can absorb additional moisture. You can easily correct the texture with more or less liquid according to your liking.

Dust with parmesan cheese and you’ve got yourself a feast!

simple baked risotto / The Clever Carrot

simple baked risotto
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 c. sliced leeks (white + light green parts only) or 1 onion, diced
  • 1½ c. aborio rice
  • ⅓ c. dry white wine
  • 5 c. chicken stock, divided + more to taste
  • ½ c. grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • salt + pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large Dutch oven, warm the olive oil over low heat.
  3. Add the sliced leeks and saute until soft, but not colored about 5-10 minutes. If the leeks start to catch on the bottom of the pot, lower your heat and add a splash of water to loosen.
  4. Add the rice and stir thoroughly.
  5. Pour in the wine and cook until the liquid has evaporated.
  6. Add 4½ cups of chicken stock.
  7. Cover and place into the oven on the center rack. Bake for 45 minutes.
  8. Remove the risotto from the oven. Add the remaining ½ cup of chicken stock, parmesan cheese, and butter and stir frequently for about 1-2 minutes. The texture should be oozy, not stiff. Add extra stock if necessary.
  9. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with extra parmesan cheese to taste.
  10. Serve right away.