Black Beans and Rice
Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, and sauté the onion, green pepper and garlic until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the beans, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, wine vinegar and water. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer mixture 1-1/2 hours or until beans are tender, stirring occasionally. Do not allow beans to dry out; add a little water if it becomes necessary.
Stir in the tomato paste, and cook an additional 15 minutes. Serve over rice. Garnish each serving with tomato, green onions, sour cream and cilantro, if desired. Makes 5 or 6 servings, depending upon appetites.
Note: Dried beans cook faster if they are soaked. Cover beans with 2 inches of water, soak them overnight, drain, and then cook according to your recipe. A shortcut to overnight soaking is to cover the beans with plenty of water, bring them to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Then, turn off the heat, cover tightly, and let them sit for 1 hour. Then, drain and cook as usual.
People in areas with hard water can cook their beans till the cows come home, and the beans will still be tough or not thoroughly done. If you have that problem, add a scant 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda to the cooking water, and you will have one less problem.
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