White Rice and Black Beans

MAKES: 4 to 6 servings

TIME: About 2 hours, largely unattended

Seriously delicious and really easy. This technique semipureing the half-cooked beans and adding the rice makes a great case for cooking all rice and bean dishes this way, because the earthy bean flavor really penetrates the rice. Throw it in the oven and an hour later you have a one-pot meal with an appealingly crisp crust.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 red or yellow bell pepper, peeled if desired, cored, seeded, and chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

3/4 cup dried black beans, washed, picked over, and soaked if time allows

11/2 cups long-grain rice

1 cup chopped tomato (canned are fine; don’t bother to drain)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup chopped parsley or fresh cilantro leaves

Put the oil in a large ovenproof pot over medium heat. A minute later, add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the beans and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low so that the mixture bubbles gently. Cover loosely and cook, stirring occasionally and adding water if necessary, until the beans are about half-done softening but still tough in the middle about 40 minutes (an hour or more if you didn’t soak the beans at all). Preheat the oven to 350В°F.

Use an immersion blender or a potato masher to semipure the beans in the pot (leave at least half unpued).

Stir in the rice, tomato, and a good amount of salt and pepper. (If you don’t want a crust to develop, cover the pot.) Bake in the oven until the rice and beans are tender, anywhere between 30 and 60 minutes, adding a little water if needed. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley and serve or store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days (reheat and stir in a little water and olive oil just before serving).

Variations

Baked Rice and White Beans, Tuscan Style. Omit the onion and tomatoes; the bell pepper is optional: Substitute white beans, like cannellini, navy, or Great Northern, for the black and add 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves (or just under 1 tablespoon dried) in Step 1. Proceed with the recipe and drizzle with good extra virgin olive oil just before serving.

Baked Rice and Red Kidney Beans, Jamaican Style. With coconut milk, irresistible: Replace the bell pepper with a fresh hot chile, the black beans with red kidney beans, and a 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk for the tomato. In Step 3, add about 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried thyme, to taste.