Black Beans & Green Rice (Arroz Verde)
Our babysitter, who is from Trinidad, calls her version Rice Pilau. Basically, she raids our freezer and pantry, mixing in every frozen vegetable and leftover babyfood puree that enters her field of vision with some cooked rice. She adds coconut milk and maybe some canned diced tomatoes, and combines until it looks like death. Then, she feeds it to my kids and they gobble it up like it’s their job.
An Indian mom I know shared her recipe for Kichari; basically, an Indian version of veggies mixed with rice. She often uses yellow or green lentils (dal) in hers for added nutrition.
And when I’ve got dribs and drabs of leftovers in the fridge, there’s nothing like tossing it all with an egg and calling it fried rice to give them a new lease on life.
What is it about a bunch of random things mixed with rice that is so darn appealing?
Not one to look a gifthorse in the mouth, I turned to rice again this week in my ongoing quest to disguise vegetables as carbs so that my family will happily eat them. Exhibit A, Arroz Verde.
What I love about this recipe is that it doesn’t just pay lip service to the greens, but calls for a nutritionally significant amount of them. (It’s also a great example of a recipe that uses Herbs as the Main Event). The peppers mixed into the rice deliver Vitamin C to a mixed meal of rice and beans, which helps increase the bioavailability of the iron in the beans. It’s got beautiful Mexican flavors, and pairs perfectly with a simple dish of black beans for a colorful and nutritious spin on my weekday standby of rice-and-beans.
Bonus recipe: here’s my favorite fast way to make black beans: Drain and rinse 1 can of Eden Organic black beans. Separately, saute 1/2 of a finely chopped onion with 2 cloves minced garlic until soft and fragrant. Mix in the beans. Season with cumin, oregano and salt to taste. Stir a minute or two more to allow flavors to combine. Voila!
Recipe: Arroz Verde
Source: Mod Mex Cookbook, by Scott Linquist & Joanna Pruess
Note: Poblano peppers have a little bit of a kick to them. If you prefer less heat, I suggest substituting some or all of the poblano peppers for a yellow bell pepper instead.)
3 poblano chiles
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 cups diced yellow onion
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
2 cups Long-grain white rice
4 cups warm water
2 cups firmly packed spinach leaves
2 cups firmly packed fresh cilantro leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Roast and peel the poblano chiles** Set aside.
- Heat a medium-size pot over medium-high heat, add the oil, onion, and garlic and sauté until the onion is translucent.
- Add the rice and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the water and bring to a rapid boil over high heat. Lower the heat, cover, and cook for 20 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed and the rice is cooked. Remove the pan from the heat and let the rice cool.
- Meanwhile, in a large pot, cover the spinach and cilantro with water. Bring just to a boil and then drain and shock the spinach and cilantro under cold water. Working with a handful at a time, squeeze out the excess water.
- In the jar of an electric blender, combine the spinach, cilantro, and poblanos and purée until smooth. In a bowl, blend the rice with the spinach purée and season to taste with salt and pepper. In a saucepan, heat the rice over medium heat, stirring frequently, and serve.
** to roast the Poblanos: Using tongs, hold the peppers directly over an open flame (e.g., of your gas burner), or under the broiler, until the skin starts blistering and turning black. Use the tongs to turn them so that the kin is evenly charred all over. Place the charred peppers in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap until they cool. Once cooled, scrape off the skin. Slit open the peeled peppers with a paring knife, and remove seeds and white inner ribs.
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