The other day I was making a large pot of Gallo Pinto, Costa Rican beans and rice (a typical staple for breakfast there) and flashed on a Cuban restaurant I used to go to for lunch years ago when living in California. A coworker took me there for the first time and it may have been the first time I’d had Cuban food. The place was a bit of a hole in the wall (which I loved) and I recall getting a plate of chicken, fried plantains and black beans and rice. It was plate rich with distinct flavors, spicy, sweet and tangy, leaving me feeling I’d traveled to another land over the noon hour.
With this thought hanging in my mind I did some research on those Cuban Black Beans and Rice, feeling it similar to Gallo Pinto and wanting to whip up a batch of them. The Cuban version, Moros y Cristianos, is symbolic of Spanish history; the black beans represent the Muslim Moors and the rice represent the Christians. Cooked together they absorb the flavors of the dish and the beans lend color to the white rice.
Bean and rice dishes can be found in most cultures. A popular one from the U.S. is Hoppin John which uses black eyed peas and rice. Said to deliver good luck if eating it first thing on New Year’s Day, Hoppin John undoubtedly has African roots that originally brought it to America. Beans and rice combine make up a whole protein so it’s a filling combination that is usually very inexpensive to make as well.
Moros y Cristianos is a flavorful recipe that makes a hearty side dish for most meals. Add it to grilled or roasted meats for something a bit out of the ordinary! It inspired another full meal recipe I’ll be sharing tomorrow so be sure to hop back for a look. You won’t want to miss it!
Cuban Black Beans and Rice (Moros y Cristianos)
- 1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil
- 1 small Yellow Onion , peeled and chopped
- ½ cup finely chopped Green Pepper
- 4 large Garlic Cloves , peeled and diced
- 1 teaspoon ground Cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried Oregano
- 1 15- ounce can Black Beans , undrained
- 1 cup Long Grain White Rice
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 2 tablespoons Lime Juice
- Garnish: 1 slice Bacon , cooked (not crisp), drained and chopped
- Garnish: chopped fresh Cilantro leaves
In a large saucepan or Dutch oven (with lid) heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, green pepper and garlic and sauté until soft (8-10 minutes).
Add the cumin and oregano; sauté until fragrant (30 seconds to a 1 minute).
Drain the liquid from the black beans into a liquid measuring cup (a 2 cup measuring cup if available). Add water to make 2 cups total liquid. Pour the liquid into the pan (reserve the beans), add the bay leaf, and bring to a boil (will happen quickly) scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
Add the rice and black beans; bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium-low and simmering. Cover and allow to cook until the liquid is fully absorbed into the rice (approximately 25 minutes).
Remove from heat. Stir in the lime juice and serve with chopped bacon and cilantro leaves for garnish.