Years ago I went through the vegetarian phase. Briefly. Very briefly. The one thing I learned to love during that time were beans. Black, pinto, cannelini, red…you name them I loved them. I had a lot of great vegetarian cookbooks at the time and one of them had a recipe for Black Beans and Rice. The author referenced the Brazilian dish, Feijoada, as something that she would eat if she wasn’t a vegetarian, so she decided to recreate the beans that went along with the dish and then she would have almost eaten Feijoada.
The original dish as they cook it in Brazil is chocked full of pork and beef along with the black beans and oranges. I have no idea what happened to my book or the author. Maybe she gave up the vegetarian lifestyle and moved to Brazil to eat the real deal with her black beans. Whatever.
Over the years the recipe has evolved into this great meal. A bit of smoked sweet pimenton adds a great flavor and the oranges cook to almost nothing but a sweetness accented by the sherry. Serve it over regular or brown rice, if you’re inclined towards brown rice…it’s great on corn chips . It’s versatile and divine at the same time. Freezes like a dream. Top with fresh cilantro and orange slices and a bit of sour cream.
Brazilian Beans and Rice
1 sweet yellow onion, chopped
2 red bell peppers, diced
4 fat garlic cloves, minced
2 15 ounce cans black beans, rinsed
1 small lemon, juiced
1 Valencia orange, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp sweet smoked paprika
1/½ tsp oregano
3 tbsp dry sherry
Cooked regular or brown rice
Fresh chopped cilantro
Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Do a couple of swirls of extra virgin olive oil. Add the onion and sauté for about five minutes. Add bell pepper and garlic and sauté another five minutes. Add cumin, oregano, paprika, coarsely ground black pepper and a pinch of salt. Add black beans, lemon juice, tomatoes, orange and its juices and stir to combine. Add a bit of water. Keep this mixture thick but not dry. Add the sherry and let cook for about 15 minutes. Add more water if you need it.
Plate the rice, then the beans on the side with the fresh cilantro and a dollop of sour cream on top with orange slices.
Serves 3 generously.