When I was growing up, my mom would have “Irish night” every month or so. This typically entailed blasting her CD of traditional Irish pub songs while mixing up a pot of beef and Guinness stew…the only Irish food we really knew at the time. Our family doesn’t have any Irish ties (that we know of) or any particular obsession with the Emerald Isle…but I guess this was my mom’s way of breaking up the everyday routine. Naturally, I thought she was crazy. And then this week, when I found myself listening to a Cuban music station on Spotify while cutting up a green plantain and dreaming of beaches and sunshine…I realized that I was doing exactly the same thing.
At least “Cuban night” hasn’t become a regular occurance in my tiny Parisian apartment…yet. I just woke up one day with a craving for some spicy black beans and rice, which quickly escalated into my first Cuban cooking experiment.
Black beans are hard to find in Paris, and when I do find them, they’re expensive. Luckily, though, I stocked up on dry beans and Rotel on my last trip home!
I made this super easy recipe for black beans in the crock pot with only a few minor adjustments. I used a can of Rotel instead of tomatoes and chilies, and I cut the recipe in half…though it still made enough for two meals for A. and me. My crock pot is rather zealous and almost always cooks recipes in far less time than it’s meant to, so I turned it to the “keep warm” setting for the last couple of hours to keep the beans from turning to mush. These black beans turned out sort of spicy, but I still added some chipotle Tabasco at the end to take things up a notch. I served the beans with cilantro lime rice and some chorizo for A. who is still slowly getting used to the idea of not having meat at every meal!
This isn’t necessarily a low-calorie dinner, but there’s very little fat and all the carbs, proteins, and nutrients from the veggies made this the perfect meal for a workout day.
Here are the recipes:
Slow cooker black beans adapted from Andrea Meyers
225 g / 8 oz dry black beans
50 g / 1.75 oz white onion, chopped
1 10 oz can Rotel (original)
1/2 t garlic powder
1 T olive oil
1 T apple cider vinegar
Pinch dried oregano
Pinch cumin powder
1/2 medium red bell pepper, chopped (I used roasted red pepper)
Combine all ingredients except bell pepper in crock pot. Cover and cook on high until beans are tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, around 6-8 hours. 30 minutes before serving, turn the crock pot to low and add the chopped bell pepper. Serve with Tabasco sauce and sour cream if desired.
Nutrition info here!
Cilantro lime rice adapted from Food Network.com
1 t olive oïl
1.5 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup basmati rice
Pinch of salt
3 cups chicken broth
Chopped fresh cilantro
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and add the rice and salt. Cook over a low heat for 3 minutes, stirring constantly to make sure the rice doesn’t burn. Add broth and the juice and zest of the lime and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until the rice is done. Add more liquid as needed. The rice shouldn’t be sticky.
Just before serving, add chopped cilantro.
After an apéritif of baked plaintains and pineapple juice for me/Havana breeze for A., we finally started to feel the vacation spirit that everyone else in France is enjoying at the moment…Paris is seriously EMPTY! I guess now I can appreciate a bit more why my mom needed her “Irish nights” to mix up her everyday cooking and meal planning chores. It’s almost like a mini vacation!
What do you do to change up your weeknight dinner routine?