Long ago and far away, I was a vegetarian for four whole years. During this time (now nearly ten years ago when I began) I was not a great cook. I don't even know if I was a good cook, really. Rather than turning to, you know, vegetables -- I subsisted mostly on Cheetos and other non-food items that I wouldn't go near today. Why did I start eating meat again? I often say this can be summed up in one word. And that word is "Cheddarwurst." Surprisingly however, I ended up with a healthier diet as a meat eater than I ever had before.
Back to my original point -- I probably wouldn't have lasted nearly so long in this veggie endeavor without Curtis Aikens' red beans and rice recipe. It has a complex, hearty flavor that keeps even meatitarians interested, and piling it up on the plate. Back in the day, it may have been the one thing I did right.
1 pound dried red beans (soaked overnight)
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 1/2 celery stalks, diced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped or minced
2 bay leaves
3/4 cup olive oil
3 to 4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 to 3 cups cooked rice
I add plenty of Red Hot at the end, as well
Drain the beans, discarding the water, and set them aside in a pot. Place the onion, celery, garlic and bay leaves in a medium mixing bowl. Drizzle the olive oil over them and let the mixture sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Don't skip it!
Pour the oil and veggie mixture over the beans and let that mix sit at room temp for 10 to 15 minutes. Add enough of the water to cover the beans and bring to a boil. (Here, you could also place the mix in a slow cooker.) Lower the temp to a simmer, add S & P, cover and cook for 3 to 4 hours. Remove the bay leaves and add final seasonings to taste. Serve the hot beans over the rice.
I also serve this with greens with Trader Joe's turkey bacon, because it has a thick cut that seems like a ham-hock texture (hey, I still try to cut out the pork and the beef whenever possible) and biscuits (these were from a mix.)
Tomorrow, a quick post about what to do with your leftover greens!