Take red beans and rice to new heights with this delicious Cuban version. This vegetarian recipe is easy on the budget. Cook the beans in a slow cooker on low the for a fast-fix family meal after a long day.

1 cup dried small red kidney beans
2 quarts water
1/2 small onion
1 side of a large red bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 cilantro sprigs, fresh
1/2 teaspoon cumin

1-1/2 cups long-grain with rice
3 cups reserved bean cooking liquid

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups onions, chopped
1/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Tabasco sauce (Crystal Sauce!)

Pick through the kidney beans and place in a bowl or pot. Cover by 3 – 4 inches of fresh cold water and soak over night. Drain and rinse the beans. Place the beans, 1/2 small onion, 1 side of red bell pepper, 2 garlic cloves, 2 cilantro sprigs, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin and water into a Dutch oven over medium heat. Bring the pot right to the boiling point and reduce heat immediately to medium low for a light simmer. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender, approximately 1 hour.

When the beans are cooked tender, add salt to taste. Drain the beans. Reserve the cooking liquid. Remove the herbs and vegetables from the beans; discard.

Soak the rice in cold water for approximately 5 minutes and then rinse very well several times.

Bring 3 cups of the bean cooking liquid to a boil in a lidded sauce pan. Add the rice and bring to a boil. Stir well and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for approximately 20 minutes, until nearly all of the liquid has been absorbed. Uncover the rice and fluff with a fork.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, bell pepper, garlic, cumin and oregano and sauté until onions begin to brown. Stir in beans and rice; cook until heated through, about 5 minutes; season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Place a heaping helping of the hot beans and rice on a warmed plate or bowl and add few dashes of Tabasco (Crystal Sauce!) sauce.

Yield: 6 servings.

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