Thursday, July 14, 2011

Citrus Beans and Rice

When I was a youngster, I had a rather eccentric aunt whom I thought hung the moon.  I remember one winter evening after eating a dinner of my mom's homemade chili with lots of tomato, ground beef, chili powder, and of course kidney beans, Aunt Mary taught me a little jingle about beans to my proper mother's chagrin.  You may have learned this jingle as well.  It went something like this, "Beans, beans, the musical fruit.  The more you eat the more you toot.  The more you toot, the better you feel.  We have beans at every meal."  The jingle has to do with the beans capacity to contribute to flatulence because of the way in which the bacteria in our large intestine digest certain sugar in beans.  Naturally, it is now known that there are ways we can combat bean flatulence, including soaking dried  beans overnight before cooking them, cooking beans with anise seed, coriander, or cumin, or simply taking Beano.  If you have been eating beans for awhile, you may find that your digestive system has adjusted and you can eat them without undesirable  digestive consequences.  Since beans need not be the musical fruit that they were back when I was a kid, they can easily be "what's for dinner."

Flatulence aside, beans, or legumes as they are otherwise known as, are one of the most nutritious and economical food sources we have as vegetarians.  They are brimming with fiber, protein, complex carbohydrates, folate, and iron. The soluble fiber found in legumes has been found to decrease blood cholesterol, which is definitely a perk for many of us battling the cholesterol numbers game.  Depending on the type of bean, one cup of these little yummy nuggets has anywhere from nine to thirteen grams of fiber.   Eat your beans with rice for a complete protein.   Who knew they were so healthy?    

Citrus Beans and Rice is one of those bean recipes that is both refreshing and filling.  The aroma is delightful as the herbs cook in the olive oil.  Then there is the feta cheese which melts over the warm beans and imparts a rich, creamy texture to this delicious gathering of tastes.  Interest peeked?  Then head straight to the kitchen to rustle up a pot of this delicious, simple, inexpensive and yummy vegetarian food for your family's dinner. 

When your children ask "What's for dinner?", you can answer, "Beans!" with a smile on your face as you remember my Aunt Mary's little jingle.  Feel free to teach the jingle to them around the dinner table.  Trust me, they will giggle and laugh when they hear you singing the word "toot" to your significant other's chagrin!


1 can red kidney beans
1 can black beans
1/4 cup olive oil
2 shallots, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 inch ginger, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons lime zest
2 tablespoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
Salt and Pepper
Juice of one lemon
Juice of one lime
10 large olives, sliced
1 cup rice
2 cups water
1/4 cup feta cheese crumbles (optional)

1. Prepare 1 cup rice with 2 cups water according to directions on package.

2. Put beans in a colander and rinse well.  Set aside.

3.  In a medium pan, saute shallots and garlic in 2 tablespoons of olive oil from measured amount until soft, about 1-3 minutes.
4. Add herbs and ginger to shallot mixture and saute for 1-2 minutes to release aroma from the herbs.  Be sure to gently stir the mixture to prevent scorching the tender herbs.

5. Add the juice and zest from the lemon and lime and the beans to the saute pan and toss gently.  Heat the bean mixture thoroughly, 5-10 minutes while giving it a gentle stir now and then.

6.  Add in sliced olives and remainder of measured olive oil.  Stir and heat another 2-3 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serving Suggestions:

To serve, place a serving scoop of rice in the bottom of a bowl.  Add a generous serving of beans on top of the rice.  Sprinkle cheese on beans.  Enjoy!

Serve with an old-fashion salad of iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, carrots and tomatoes and a large bowl of orange slices. A delicious, simple, inexpensive and yummy vegetarian meal!

Preparation Time:  30 minutes
Serves:  4
Cost Per Serving:   $1.50

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