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Meatless Mondays: Spicy Red Beans and Rice

When I made this dish I was thinking about the Cajun Red Beans and Rice but since I’ve been making beans since forever, I decided to spice it up Latin style. I used to have the Cajun version at an awesome restaurant in Belmar, NJ called Ragin’ Cajun many years ago. I haven’t been there in ages and not sure what it’s like now but man, the food there was insanely good. Everything was fresh, homemade, spicy and flavorful! Sometimes the owner/chef would step away from kitchen to check on customers. Always great food, always great service. From the spicy beef tips that weren’t always on the menu, the chicken baton rouge (my favorite!), the shrimp etouffee, to the roasted whole garlic that melted like butter when you spread it over hot, crusty rolls…delicious, I can still taste it now! I have been wanting to go back but sometimes life just gets in the way. I read that the original owner is still there and do plan to get down there before the summer crowd and the crazy Parkway traffic starts. It’s just one of those places you never forget…I hope business has been good for them over the years.

So even though I was thinking Cajun and have been wanting to travel to New Orleans for a while now for some good food, habit had me reach for the chipotle instead and went for more Latin flavors. I think I’m going to do a Cajun series though, or attempt to, although I’m not going to put okra in anything!  That’s one veggie I just can’t stand…and celery. So be on the look out for a “Missing NOLA” recipe series. I love that place!

I prepared the beans the way my Mom taught me growing up; Dominican style but with lots of heat. It’s so easy and great if you’re looking for more hearty vegetarian options and gluten free dishes. This dish is loaded with carbohydrates but there’s also plenty of protein, fiber and sweat inducing heat that makes it a great balanced meal. I actually had it with slices of avocado sprinkled with a little salt but it never made it in the photo. I was so hungry I just wolfed it down!

I also found this great chipotle sauce that I added to this recipe. It’s made by La Morena brand of canned chiles and sauces. I usually get their chipotle in adobo sauce, which is a must for any spicy food lover, and quickly grabbed a can while at my local market. When I got home I noticed it was just sauce and Oh My Goodness! So glad I did because this sauce was amazing. I hope you like this recipe!

Red Beans and Rice

1 can red kidney beans
1 small onion, cut in half & sliced
1 heaping tbsp tomato paste
1 4oz can chipotle sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2-3 sprigs cilantro, stems are good, you can remove them later
1 cup water
1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cups rice + water for cooking
salt

Heat oil in saucepan on medium heat. When oil is hot add the onions until translucent. Add tomato paste, chipotle sauce, garlic and stir vigorously until all ingredients are well blended. Add the kidney beans and stir. The beans will be a bit dry with just the paste and you want them to be saucy so add cup of water and stir. Add the ground pepper, red pepper flakes and cilantro and let mixture boil. Turn down heat and let simmer for 5-10 minutes. The beans are already cooked so idea is to let the flavors blend well and water boil off a bit, the beans should not be runny. You can remove the sprigs of cilantro when it’s done.

For rice, heat about 2 cups of water on high heat in a separate saucepan and add salt to taste. Then add a tsp of oil and rice. Water should cover rice completely, about 1/4 in above rice level. Let water boil off and when this happens, turn heat to low and cover saucepan. Cook rice for about 20 minutes until fluffy.

In a bowl, spoon beans over rice and serve while it’s piping hot. You can also add avocado slices seasoned with a pinch of salt.

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