Mediterranean Rice and Beans

  • Servings: 4 portions
  • Difficulty: Easy
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As you know from my post of several months ago, I love rice and beans.  You can be super flexible with ingredients and flavors.  This version is a mix of sushi rice and Mediterranean ingredients like guanciale, dark chickpeas, hominy, poblano peppers, fennel and cherry tomatoes.

I think you can be as flexible as you need, or time permits when it comes to preparing a hearty dinner of simple ingredients.  I had most of these ingredients on hand and spent about 25 minutes total time preparing this on a gray and chilly Chicago December Sunday.  I make beans in large batches, drain them well, freeze in a single layer on a sheet pan, and then place the frozen beans in a freezer bag until I’m ready to use them.  They keep well for several months in the freezer and reheat in a few minutes from frozen (stir into stews, soups, and sauté dishes directly from the freezer, cooking gently so they are just heated through).  With that said, canned beans will work just fine in this recipe.

Start the rice first – this method of cooking rice always works for me, and it holds hot for a good while, so even if your beans are taking a little more time than you intended, you still have hot rice on hand.  I like to use Calrose brand short gain rice.  In my experience, this rice cooks up consistently.  You can easily use a rice cooker for any rice; however, you don’t need a gadget to make perfect rice.  My method is very simple: one-part rice by volume to two parts water by volume, some salt, and a little fat.  Stir all together in a saucepan, bring to a simmer, cover, lower heat to low, and cook for 11 minutes.  Without ever taking the top off, remove from the heat, and let sit for another 12 minutes and your rice is done.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons finely diced guanciale (you can easily omit this, and substitute olive oil, bacon or fat back)
  • 1 cup Calrose short grain rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt, divided use
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 small poblano pepper, finely diced
  • ½ small fennel bulb, finely diced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup chickpeas
  • 1 cup hominy, drained
  • ½ cup wheat berries, cooked
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • Juice of 1 lime

Garnish:

  • ½ cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves
  • ½ serrano chili pepper, very thinly sliced
  • 1 green onion, very thinly sliced
  • 4 lime wedges

Directions

  1. Prepare the rice by melting the guanciale in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in the rice and cook, stirring constantly until the rice is completely coated in the melted fat, and has very slightly toasted, about 2 minutes.  Stir in the water and ½ teaspoon of the salt.  Cook, stirring occasionally so the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan, until the rice comes to a simmer, about 2 minutes.  Cover, lower heat to a simmer, and cook, for 11 minutes.  Remove from the heat, keep covered, and let rest for another 12 minutes.  Do not remove the lid.
  2. While the rice is cooking, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Stir in the shallots, poblano, and fennel.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the fennel has softened slightly, and the shallots just begin to brown, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the garlic, and red pepper flakes, cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic is very fragrant, about 1 minute.  Stir in the chickpeas, hominy, wheat berries, vegetable broth, cherry tomatoes, lime juice, and the remaining teaspoon of salt.  Cover, lower heat to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally until heated through and tomatoes start to soften, about 5 minutes.  Remove the lid, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced by half, about 5 minutes
  3. Toss together the cilantro, serrano pepper, and green onion in a small bowl.  Place cooked rice in one side of a large serving bowl, add the bean stew to the opposite side, top with the cilantro mixture and add a lime wedge.  Serve immediately.