One of our old favorite weeknight meals was borlotti beans with rice and veggies. Isn’t it funny how you sometimes forget about an old standard like that, and then you come back to it and wonder why you ever stopped making it? That’s pretty much what happened this week.
I had some extra broccoli in the fridge from making a new batch of broccoli cheddar bites for Nora, and I knew just what to do with it!
Beans can be kind of a pain in that you have to think ahead a bit, but if I get them soaking in the morning, I can have dinner on the table by a reasonable time without too much effort. It’s just remembering to soak them that’s the hardest part! Fortunately, according to Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone*, most beans only need to soak for 4 hours, not overnight, since they will have absorbed as much water as they are going to by that point.
* Written by Greens restaurateur Deborah Madison. and my basic vegetarian cooking bible.
Madison’s method for cooking beans is the best I’ve found, and it always results in perfectly cooked beans, creamy inside but not overdone, as long as I keep the heat low enough and check on them often toward the end of the cooking time. The basic method, which is good for pretty much any kind of beans, is to soak the beans, drain them, cover them with 6 times their (original dried) volume of water. Bring them to a boil, boil hard for 5-10 minutes, and then turn the heat down very low to a just barely a simmer. Cover and cook for anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes, depending on what kind of beans they are, until tender and creamy.
Back to the matter at hand, though, the best thing about this meal is that you can use lots of different veggies with it. Broccoli is my favorite, but you could also use cauliflower, any kind of greens, mix the beans with roasted peppers, onions, carrots… the list goes on. It’s a classic “clean out the fridge” meal. Plus it’s tasty!
We had plenty of leftovers, so the hubby repurposed them into quesadillas for lunch today. Just a little rice and beans, plus grated cheese and sliced jalapeno, in between two corn tortillas, served with a dollop of sour cream and a bit of salsa.
The grown-ups loved them, and Nora loved her own de-spicy-fied quesadilla so much she ate a whole one!
That baby has quite an appetite.
Borlotti Beans and Rice with Broccoli
1 cup dried borlotti beans, soaked and drained
1 onion, quartered
1 clove garlic, peeled
2 bay leaves
1 tsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup brown rice
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
one head of broccoli, cut into florets
grated cheddar, sour cream, and salsa for topping
Cover beans with 6 cups of water and bring to a boil. Boil hard for 5-10 minutes, and then turn the heat down. Add onion, garlic, bay leaves, and olive oil. Cover and simmer on very low heat for 30 minutes, or until partially done. Add salt and continue to cook for another 30 minutes or so, checking periodically for doneness.
Meanwhile, bring the rice and broth to a boil. Stir, lower heat, and cover and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until water is completely absorbed. Remove from heat and let sit for at least 10 minutes more, covered. Steam the broccoli florets until crisp-tender.
Serve the beans over rice with broccoli on top. Top with grated cheddar, a dollop of sour cream, and/or salsa, and enjoy!