Cannellini Beans and Rice

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After my sticky bun disaster, I need to redeem myself and redeem myself I shall with the picture you see above: that’s cannellini beans and rice, an improvised dinner I whipped up with just a few cheap ingredients in less than 20 minutes.

And it was good. Really good! What was so good about it? Let me tell you.

Ever since my friend Rachel Wharton shared her recipe for Bodega Beans I’ve been frying up panfuls of beans any time I’m hungry but either (a) don’t want to spend much money; or (2) don’t want to go out into the cold to get ingredients. I almost always have canned beans around and with Rachel’s brilliant recipe, you just fry up anything else you have–onions, garlic, ginger, peppers, carrots, celery, anything!–and add the beans, salt and pepper and you’re done.

Craig did have a complaint, though. He thought the Bodega Beans were too dry.

I enjoyed their dryness–they got a little crispy in the oil–and so for me it was a pleasant textural component. But on my most recent venture with beans, I decided to make them saucier–turning them from caustic Miranda beans into sexy, soupy Samantha beans. (You’re welcome, “Sex & The City” bean fans.)

I used tomato paste and water to achieve this effect and along with onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes it would’ve fared equally well on pasta. In fact, this kind of topping–with the Italian cannellini beans–kind of belonged on pasta; the rice was the weird component. But so what? We’re adventurous here at Amateur Gourmet headquarters. And the payoff was pretty splendid.

Here’s how you do it:

Cannellini Beans & Rice

Ingredients

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

One onion, chopped

2 -3 cloves of garlic, chopped

Red pepper flakes

1 Tbs tomato paste

1/2 cup – 1 cup water

1 can cannellini beans

Salt

Pepper

Basmati rice (or any white rice, really)

1. Make rice according to package instructions. (Make sure it’s plain white rice; the bean topping has plenty of flavor, believe you me.)

2. Take a pan and start getting it hot. Add a drizzle of olive oil to coat the bottom. Add the onion and saute until the onion starts to become golden, about 10 minutes. Add salt towards the end.

3. Now this part’ll happen fast: add the garlic and watch it, it’ll burn. Stir all around and push to the side and in one spot add a sprinkling of red pepper flakes (to taste, about 1/2 tsp) and in another spot add the tomato paste. Stir the paste around in its spot til it turns orange and then stir everything all together. It should smell great.

4. Now’s the part where you add water. “Water?” you might think but most Italian sauce recipes involve water and this’ll take all those flavors you just developed and extract them into a sauce. Let the water simmer up and then lower the heat. Add a little salt and taste. Does it taste good? It may need more salt.

5. Now add your can of beans, including the liquid. Stir it all around and let simmer a few minutes. Taste it. Maybe it needs more salt? More pepper? More red pepper flakes? If it gets too dry, add more water and continue to simmer until it’s saucy and hot.

That’s it. Serve it on rice with some parsley. An easy, cheap dinner that’ll make you happy in these final cold days of winter. Way better than burnt sticky buns, in my humble opinion.

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