While I love a fancy, dress-up dinner just as much as the next person, some foods are perfect in their simplicity. They’re not fussy or expensive. They don’t take long to prepare. Yet, they work together in such a way that you feel comforted from the inside out whenever you tuck into a bowl.
One example for me is the pairing of black beans and rice. Not only is the combination friendly on the wallet, a big bowl of black beans and rice is nourishing, satisfying, and filling. Put them together with a dollop of guacamole and a side of fried plantains, and it becomes my “happy place” of dinners. (Don’t know how to make plantains? Check out these step by step instructions.)
For this kind of dish, I like my beans to be a little on the stew-y side. I don’t want them overly soupy or liquidy, but they should have just enough moisture that they coat the plain rice alongside of them. To add some extra flavor and juiciness to the beans, I cook them in Mexican beer until the beer has reduced. Then I serve them with a wedge of lime, so that diners can add a little squeeze of fresh lime juice to the rice and beans just before digging in to a bowl. (It’s amazing how with a pop of flavor from lime juice, one needs significantly less salt in a dish. Lime enhances and brightens the flavors around it all on its own.)
This dinner is weeknight friendly, hot and ready on the table in the time it takes to cook rice.