If you’re looking for food that’s tasty, filling, and cheap, it’s hard to beat rice and beans. Rice and bean dishes come in all sorts of varieties and flavors. Moros y Cristianos is a Cuban recipe, and is one of the best-known rice and bean recipes. The name is Spanish for “Moors and Christians”, and refers to the black beans (Moors) and white rice (Christians) that comprise the bulk of the dish.
I prefer to make this dish with brown rice. In addition to the health benefits of whole grains, I’ve found that brown rice is more filling and satisfying than white, and I rarely go back for seconds when I eat brown rice dishes (even thought they’re tasty!), which is better for my budget as well as my health.
This dish is usually made by cooking the rice in with the other ingredients, but I’ve had trouble getting brown rice to come out well this way, so I prefer to cook the rice separately and then add it to the dish at the end. (I use my roommate’s rice cooker, but you can cook it on the stovetop if you don’t have a rice cooker.)
The recipe below was adapted from this recipe on About.com. I’ve changed/increased some of the quantities, as well as changed the cooking process in order to allow for the rice to be added at the end. If you’d prefer to use white rice, I’d recommend consulting the original recipe.
Moros y Cristianos – Cuban Black Beans and
White Brown Rice (adapted from About.com)
1 1/2 cups dried black beans (about 3/4 lb.) OR two large cans of black beans
1 1/2 cups brown rice
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
A few cloves garlic, chopped/minced
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1/2 to 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 or 2 bay leaves
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 to 3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar, more if you really like kick
1 to 1 1/2 tsp. salt (to taste)
1/2 tsp. black pepper
Cook the beans, if using dried: Sort and rinse the beans. Soak for at least five hours, or quick-soak for an hour. (Quick-soaking instructions: Place the beans in a saucepan and cover with 1 to 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil, let boil for one minute, then shut off the heat, cover, and leave for an hour. The beans will absorb water faster this way.) Cook the soaked beans until they are soft. Relatively new beans should cook up in under an hour. (Older beans take longer to cook.)
While the beans are cooking, get the rice cooking as well: Rinse rice. Brown rice varieties vary in how much water they require, so add water as per package instructions. Bring rice and water to a simmer, cover tightly, and cook on a very low simmer for 45 minutes.
While the rice and beans are both cooking, get everything else going: Chop/prepare veggies, and then saute onion, bell pepper, garlic, cumin, thyme, crushed red pepper, and bay leaf in olive oil until the onion is tender, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, vinegar, salt, and pepper. When you’re at this point, add the beans, even if they aren’t done, and simmer – they can finish cooking along with the rest of the ingredients.
Simmer the bean mixture for ten minutes or longer, until the beans are fully cooked and the rice is done cooking as well. Add the rice to the mixture, stir, and let sit for an additional ten minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Remove bay leaves and season with additional salt, pepper, and apple cider vinegar to taste.
Cost of core ingredients: All primarily organic and purchased at my food co-op.
3/4 lb. black beans @ $1.99/lb. = $1.49
3/4 lb. brown rice @ $2.29/lb. = $1.72
1 green bell pepper = $1.28
1 onion = ~$1.20
1 28oz. can diced tomatoes = $2.49
Total for 6 servings (3 if you’re my roommate Jack): $8.18 + the cost of small amounts of olive oil, garlic, cumin, thyme, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper.
This dish gets better as it sits and the flavors meld, so it makes for great leftovers!