When I was little my favorite dish was beans and rice. Not some gourmet extravaganza either. It was actually black bean soup (from a can, oh my!) over WHITE rice. Yeah. That was my favorite meal. But I wouldn’t ever eat it unless I could put homemade vinaigrette on it, made with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, herbs, and sometimes parmesan cheese. As the years have gone by, I’ve steered away from the black bean soup system of thought. I’ve eaten black bean salads, black beans with garam masala and dried cranberries, Cuban baked black beans and rice, and so many other versions I can’t even remember.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been so busy, and I have been cooking, just not things worth putting here or which I had the energy to add. Sadly, the things I was just too tired to type up or photograph extensively(broccoli slaw with almonds and dried cranberries, German potato salad, Moroccan carrot salad with oranges,) are probably more relevant to the season. Many things I’ve made have nothing to do with the season, including the Cook’s Illustrated pumpkin bread I made with my little brother two weeks ago, and the cakes to sell.
Something I am quite excited to tell you about is the practice wedding cake I’m working on this week. I have to do a wedding cake for September 1st, but figured doing a practice would be worthwhile. It’s not big, just two tiers, but wonderful to work on. The bottom tier is alternating chocolate and vanilla buttermilk layers (this one also has brown sugar, yum!) filled with blackberry mousse and frosted with swiss meringue buttercream (this may change to). The layers on both tiers will be brushed with a Chambord (blackberry liqeur) syrup. The top tier will be filled with a chocolate filling made simply from sour cream and melted chocolate. I’m not sure how this will all work out, and ideas are subject to change. The pictures of the whole process are coming soon!
Getting back to the original topic, today I made black beans and rice. For a few months now we’ve been making the Cook’s Illustrated Cuban Beans and Rice religiously. My youngest brother adores it, and since there’s little else he feels this way towards, we’ve latched onto it. But this afternoon I was tired of it, and made what I feel is a much better beans and rice. There’s lots of garlic, balsamic vinegar, dried basil (oregano would be good too) bacon, sautéed onions, lots of beans, brown rice, and chunks of buttery avocado. I like it, very much, even if I should be using up the produce.
Beans and Rice
1 1/2 cups dry brown rice, cooked on the dry side and still warm
2 1/2-3 cups cooked black beans, warm (you could always use canned beans and warm them up)
1 large yellow onion
4 slices bacon (we use turkey bacon) cut into 1-inch pieces
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons dried basil (oregano could work too)
1 avocado, cut into a one-inch dice (optional)
Whisk together garlic, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, basil, salt, and pepper, then let sit for an hour. Fry bacon over medium heat until crisp then remove to paper towels to drain. If using real bacon you will then need to pour off almost all of the grease. Add onions to the pan and cook until soft. Toss the cooked beans, rice, onions, and bacon together in a large bowl. Pour the vinaigrette over the beans and rice and toss to coat. Gently stir in the avocado if using and serve warm or at room temperature.