I never make red beans and rice the same way; I don’t even make the rice the same way twice in a row! This recipe can stand alone as a vegetarian dish without the country ham or can be expanded and enhanced with some great local sausage — preferably spicy.
These ingredient amounts are fluid; use what you have on hand or decide how much of a vegetable base you want for the beans and go with it! When I end up with more veggies than I want, I just save some to use the next time I make tomato sauce or soup.
- ½ pound red beans — red kidney or Mexican red beans, soaked overnight or by the quick-soak method and cooked till nicely done. (I add about 2 teaspoons of salt to the pot about 15 minutes before they are done). Total cooking time can be anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. If you are using fresh beans, they do not need to be soaked and will be cooked within 30 minutes. Whatever you use, start testing for doneness after about 25 minutes.
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 small fennel bulb, chopped
- 1 medium carrot, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 ounces of country ham from a package of country ham pieces, chopped
- 28-ounce can of good-quality whole peeled tomatoes
- spices (see below)
Sauté the first three ingredients in about 2 tablespoons of good olive oil for 5-10 minutes until beginning to color, then add the garlic and country ham and sauté the mixture for another five minutes. Squish and add the tomatoes along with their juices and cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes.
At this point add the spices you wish to use. I add about 2 teaspoons of dried basil, 1 teaspoon of dried oregano, 1 tablespoon of a favorite chili powder (I included some smoked chili powder in mine) and about 2 teaspoons of cumin. I also like to add some chopped fresh Italian parsley. After 15 minutes, add the beans to the mix and cook for another 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning, add more to taste and cook another 5-10 minutes.
Serve with or without sausages over white or brown rice. Serves 4-6 as a main course.
Photo by WordRidden