Rice & Bean Bowls

    On May 5th we prepared Rice and Beans for a Cinco de Mayo Parents as Teachers family festival. Along with the meal, we included a handout explaining how to prepare a home-style version of this festive dish. I am attaching that information below.
    It was a fun meal – with everyone assembling their own bowl. We are definitely using this idea for a party. at our home. in the near future!
     We cooked the rice in the oven for the PAT event and if you scroll down, you will  find a recipe for a large batch of rice. Or, if you prefer, just cook it is according to package directions, on top of the stove  or in a rice steamer.  
“Rice & Bean Bowls”
Beans were a mainstay in the traditional Mexican diet. They combined them with corn tortillas, rice and any number of things. Today “Rice & Bean Bowls” are gaining popularity in restaurants; you can even access a multitude of recipes on the Internet. Why the surge in popularity?
  • They’re inexpensive and can be relatively easy and  quick to prepare.
  • If served without meat they fit right in with the Meatless Monday movement that promotes good healthy and a green environment.
  • They can be varied allowing everyone to add their own favorite toppings.
Here are some ideas for getting started at home:
  • Begin with a base of rice —the minute or quick-cook variety if you are in a hurry, longer cooking brown rice if you want to kick up the nutritive value or just plain white rice cooked according to package directions. Of course, you can beef up the flavor by cooking it in meat-based stock and adding seasoning or even a little salsa as it cooks. (We used a combination of white and brown rice.)
  • Beans – cook from the dried state if you really want a money-saving meal. Or simply rely on the canned variety, drained or not drained – it’s your preference. Pinto, red, black, chili seasoned, white or a combination for variety. (We used equal portions of red, pinto and chili beans and added a small amount of black beans as well.)
  • Toppings or other additions:
    • Pork, chicken or beef – cut up leftovers or put a pork or beef roast or chicken pieces in the crockpot with a little water and seasoning (a little chili powder or cumin, garlic powder and a bay leaf) for the day and pull it apart with a fork for your own “pulled” meat.
    • Ground beef (For the festival, Barry browned it, along with some chopped onions ; he also added some taco seasoning  or sausage
    • Greens – shredded head lettuce or baby spinach leaves
    • Salsa &/or chopped tomatoes
    • Grated cheese
    • Frozen corn that has been heated in the microwave
    • Diced or sliced avocado or guacamole (purchased or homemade)
    • Chopped or sliced onions – raw or sauté them just until they begin to caramelize
    • Chopped fresh cilantro
    • Sliced radishes
    • Sour cream
    • Whole or crumbled tortilla chips

Nutritional Analysis per serving (based on 1/3 cup brown rice, 1/3 cup pinto beans, 1 oz. Cheddar cheese, 3 oz. salsa; 241g portion): Calories 590, Fat 12.0g (Saturated Fat 6.5g, Cholesterol 30mg), Sodium 697mg, Carbohydrate 94.2g (Fiber 13.5g, Sugars 4.1g), Protein 26.9g, Vit A 11%, Calcium 32%, Vit C 9%, Iron 28%.

Rice for 50   (4 oz. portion servings)
3 1/2 lb. long grain or rice    Note:  1 lb. uncooked rice yields 2 qt. cooked rice. / 1 lb. uncooked rice = 2 ¼ cups
4 1/2 quarts chicken broth (or use beef or vegetable)
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons butter
3 to 4 tablespoons dried parsley

Follow directions according to preferred cooking method:
·      Oven – Add rice to a 12 x 20 x 2” baking pan.  Add salt & butter.
Pour boiling water over rice.  Stir.  Cover pan tightly w/ aluminum foil. Bake at 350° for 1 hour.  Remove from oven and let stand covered for 5 minutes.  Fluff with fork.
·      Steamer – Add rice to a 12 x 20 x 2” baking pan. Add salt & butter. 
Pour boiling water over rice.  Stir.  Steam uncovered for 30 to 40 minutes.  Fluff with fork.
·      Stockpot – Bring water to a boil in large kettle.  Add salt, rice, and butter. Stir.  Cover tightly.  Cook on low heat until rice is tender and all water is absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand covered 5 to 10 minutes.  Fluff with fork.

Regular white rice – cooking time may need to be reduced.
Brown rice – increase cooking time to 50 to 60 minutes for steamed rice, to 1 1/2 hours for baked rice, and to 40 to 50 minutes for boiled rice.

SPICING IT UP:  Instead of parsley, add basil, coriander, curry powder, oregano, rosemary, thyme, garlic powder, onions. etc.

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