Georgia's Rice and Beans


Photo by Michael Piazza / Styled by Molly Shuster

This is probably my daughter’s “desert island” meal. She asks for it at least once a week, and then she takes the leftovers for lunch for several days following this hearty—and fast—bean supper. I use Thai jasmine rice because I love its nutty fragrance, but you could use basmati, brown or just plain white rice in its place. Whole cumin seeds, not ground, are integral, as is the quick, non-traditional pico de gallo Georgia helps to make. Serve with charred corn tortillas on the side, or wrapped up burrito-style in a flour tortilla with cheese, extra salsa and some hot sauce.

Serves 4–6

Extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
½ onion, sliced
1 cup Thai jasmine rice, rinsed
1½ cups chicken broth, vegetable stock, or water
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic
1 small bunch cilantro, stems minced and leaves chopped, keep separate
1 small hot chili, like jalapeño, minced (keep the seeds and white pith in for a spicier meal, or scrape them out for mild heat)
4 cups cooked black beans with ¼–½ cup of their liquid (other beans work, too, but black turtle beans are a classic)
2 limes
1 tomato, diced
1 cucumber, diced
2 scallions, sliced
hot sauce, sliced avocado, and warmed tortillas for serving

Make the rice: heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a lidded saucepan and add ½ teaspoon cumin seeds and the sliced onion. Sauté until fragrant, then add the rice, broth or water and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and set your timer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet and add the remaining ½ teaspoon cumin seeds, the garlic, minced cilantro stems and the minced chili. Sauté until fragrant, 1-2 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the cooked beans and their liquid, ¼ cup at a time, up to ½ cup (you don’t want them to be too soupy); bring to a simmer and allow to cook 5-6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then add the juice of one lime. Set aside while you make the pico de gallo.

In a small bowl combine the tomato, cucumber, scallions and the juice of one lime. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then stir in half the cilantro leaves.

When the rice timer goes off, remove the rice from the heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork.

Serve the rice with the beans and pico de gallo. Layer some sliced avocado on top, garnish with the remaining cilantro leaves, and eat with charred tortillas and hot sauce.

A note about charring tortillas: corn tortillas straight from the refrigerator are tough and gummy, so you need to warm them up before using. The best way to approximate real handmade Mexican ones is to char them directly over the gas flame on your stove. Working quickly, and with metal tongs, cook each tortilla until slightly blackened on each side, and then stack them in a towel-lined basket to steam and keep warm while you finish the rest of the package.

This story appeared in the Fall 2015 issue.