Sunday, June 26, 2011
It's a fact that I LOVE looking through cookbooks. R, predictably, does not share my obsession. But I've unilaterally decided that he and I are going to make a concerted effort to start packing our lunches more often for work, and the result of an informal pole which I conduced at the house of my friends M and A in DC concluded that baked casseroles are a great way to do that. Bake them up for dinner one night, stretch them out into lunch for the next couple of days. So I badgered him into choosing the first casserole.
Which reminds me of another anecdote. (Why can I never spell that word right on the first try?) Have you ever watched that kind-of-horrible show Hoarders? I hate it. Hits too close to home. Besides, I'm not a hoarder, I'm a collector. And yes, I realize the people on the show say that as well, but in my case it's true. It is! Anyway, we were watching one night and one of the 'organizational specialists' or whatever they're called pulled out a cabinet-full of take-out containers that the subject had amassed over years. When asked why she insisted on keeping them, she said 'because they're like free Tupperware.' This was, down to the exact wording, the excuse I had given R maybe two nights before when he discovered my personal stash. But you know who was glad we had all that free Tupperware at the end of the day? R, when he got to bring some of this casserole to work, mounded into a container that had started life transporting delicious horchata from our local taqueria.
The recipe comes from Faith Durand's relatively new book Not Your Mother's Casseroles. You may be familiar with Faith if you're a regular reader of Apartment Therapy's The Kitchn, which she oversees. I really love this book so far. This is the second recipe I've made from it. The first was devoured before any pics could be taken, so I guess it's back in the line-up. I made a few substitutions here. Brown rice for the white, dried beans for the canned. In general I find her casseroles to be creative and many of them include whole grains, vegetables, beans. You know, good for you food. And good for lunch, too.
Spicy Mexican and Bean Rice Bake
Adapted from Faith Durand's Not Your Mother's Casseroles
Olive oil for the pan
1 large onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, cored and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
3 cups cooked brown rice, which you'll get from boiling 1 cup of rice in about 2 cups of water, but check the package to be sure of the ratio
1 cup dried kidney, soaked overnight
1 cup dried black beans, soaked overnight
One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained well
Handful fresh, chopped cilantro
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup sour cream
2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon mild chili powder
2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Get a large pot of water boiling and cook the beans for about 1.5 hours. This can depend on how long they were soaking, so start checking after about 1 hour. When the beans are done, drain and set aside. This is also a good time to get your rice going, if you haven't yet. When the rice is cooked, set that aside as well.
Preheat the oven to 375F and grease the baking dish.
Head some oil in a skillet over medium heat then add the onion and green pepper. Cook until you can smell the vegetables and they soften. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and continue to cook for 5 minutes more.
Toss the sautéed vegetables into a large bowl along with the rice and tomatoes. Next add the cilantro, the beans and 1.5 cups of the cheese and toss to combine.
In a separate bowl, whisk the sour cream together with the beaten eggs, the chili powder, the cumin, the salt and pepper to taste. This mixture into the beans and then spread it in your prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and bake for 1 hour, until warmed through and slightly browned. Serve.