SARABANDE-Style Mexellent Feista Time!


This is a fine vegetarian meal, with the classic life-sustaining 'perfect protein' combo of rice and beans, plus lots of toppings to make it feel fancier.  Feelings of fanciness aside, you can feed four people (or two people plus leftovers for lunch) with this recipe for about $5, which we challenge you to beat with a stick.


For Main Meal:
2 cups short-grain brown rice

3.5 cups of vegetable stock or water
2 cups dried black beans, covered in water and presoaked overnight, plus about one cup of water or stock
6 cups spinach, bok choy or swiss chard, washed and roughly torn
one medium onion
3 bay leaves
three cloves of garlic, minced
good quality olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds, ground (more or less, to taste)
1 tsp red chili pepper, ground
(more or less, to taste)
1 tsp coriander, ground (more or less, to taste)
1 tsp chipotle pepper, ground (more or less, to taste)
dash of medium-dry sherry (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

For Extras:
two limes
3/4 cup sour cream or full-fat yogurt
one large avocado
1/2 tsp chili peppers, ground
1/2 tsp cumin seeds, ground
pinch of salt
tabasco sauce
grated Monterrey Jack cheese or queso blanco


Combine the rice, veggie stock, bay leaves, one half of the onion and a drizzle of olive oil in a good-sized saucepan or smallish stock pot, boil, cover and cook (if you need a primer on how to cook rice, here's a simple enough explanation).

Meanwhile, chop the remaining half of the onion.  In a saucepan with the burner on medium, heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and toss in the onion, 2 cloves of garlic, salt and spices.  Sautee until the onion is translucent.  Drain the beans and pour them into the saucepan, adding the cup of stock or fresh water (consuming the beans' soaking water reportedly causes gas) and adjusting heat so that the beans are just simmering.  Add the dash of sherry if you're using it and let the beans cook for about half an hour.  Adjust seasonings to taste.

Now, for the extras:  squeeze both limes and zest one of them until you've zested up about 2 tsp.  Add half of the juice and the zest to the sour cream/yogurt and stir.  Viola: you've made baja cream!  Peel and mash the avocado, add the spices, the remaining lime juice and a dash of tabasco:  guacamole, too!

In yet another saucepan, heat some more olive oil (a couple of tablespoons) and sautee the remaining clove of garlic on medium low heat.  When the garlic is fragrant, urn the heat down to low, add your greens, and cover.  Allow the greens to wilt down, and stir to evenly distribute the oil and garlic.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the beans over the rice piping hot, and top with plenty of baja cream, guac, and cheese and serve the greens on the side.




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