Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Exactly Like Cooking - Black Beans, Rice, and Plantains

Continuing our series to put more money into grad student wallets, through the power of cheap but nutritious (and leftover-generating) foods!

This recipe comes to you by way of three Cuban / Jamaican food staples: plantains (thick, fibrous banana-like fruits), black beans, and rice. The prep time is a bit longer, but, as a trade-off, you get quite a few extra meals here.

Picture this, but with rice...
Source: Allrecipes.com
Black Beans, Plantains, and Rice (Prep Time: 20 minutes)
Equipment - Small pan, small pot, one more pot (or rice cooker), wooden spoons (2), measuring cup (1 c), sharp knife, cooking oil.

Ingredients - 1 can black beans (Goya, Bush's, store brand)
1 green pepper
0.5 onion
0.5 tomato
1 box frozen plantains (Goya, Publix, Wal-Mart brand, etc.)
1.0 c rice
1.5-2.0 c water
some butter (2 tbsp)
some brown sugar (4 tbsp)
some plain Greek yogurt (1 tbsp)
some shredded cheese (handful)
spices: cumin, garlic, cilantro, parsley, curry powder, salt, pepper, adobo, hot sauce (all to taste)

Procedure - Get that rice cooking, either by loading it into your rice cooker, or by boiling water on high, stirring in the rice, then reducing heat to medium-low and covering with a lid. Meanwhile, dice up (cut into small pieces) pepper, onion, and tomato, then load into a pot with a small amount (2 tsp) of oil on medium heat, uncovered. Stir every 2 minutes or so, until you hear popping sounds and see steam slowly rising from the pot. Add the black beans (no need to rinse 'em, just dump it in!), and stir occasionally, until bean / veg mixture begins to simmer. If you want, now's the time to add your spices (see above list).

OK, plantain time! Heat a few spoonfuls of oil in your small pan, on medium to medium-high heat. While the oil heats, gently defrost your plantains, usually with 1 minute of microwave heating (or by leaving them out for a few hours). Begin to fry the partially-defrosted plantains in the hot oil, turning often, until they take up some of the oil and begin to brown. Reduce heat to low, add butter and brown sugar (maybe also some cinnamon and hot sauce?), turn often until plantains are sticky and deep brown. 

By this point, the rice should be done. Drain (if in a pot), scoop out onto plates, spice with parsley / pepper / salt. The beans should have lost some moisture, and should be more like a thick soup. Grab about 1 cup of the mixture to cover your rice. Add one or two of the fried, sugared plantains on top, cover with hot sauce and Greek yogurt (replaces sour cream), and some shredded cheese. Should make four (4) total servings.

Total Cost: Beans ($1.00/can) + Rice ($0.50 / cup) + Plantains ($1.75 / box) + veggies ($1.50) + Brown sugar ($0.35) + Butter ($0.40) + Dairy Additives ($0.75) + Spices ($0.50) = $6.75, or about $1.69 / serving.


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