Beans and rice in any form are a wonderful, homey, warm, satisfying dish. To be honest, I hadn't had much in the way of really good Mexcian, El Salvadorean or Nicaraguean food until I moved out to California. When I was 16, I got on a plane to Los Angeles from New York. Gran fran sent me off with a bagful of food, which, if memory serves me right, involved a salami sandwich on Pepperidge Farm white bread with Mayonnaise, pretzel sticks and M&M's. I felt very grown up on that trip. It was my first solo cross-country trip. Old enough to seem like I belonged on that plane alone, but young enough to revel in the free sodas and movies (yes, movie headphones were free in those way-back days).
My friend's family picked me up at LAX and asked if I was hungry, which I was. They drove to a small Mexican food stand and said the fish tacos were the best thing to order. I hadn't had much Mecxican food growing up, so had no idea the goodness I was in for. That fish taco changed my life! It made me realize there was a whole world of spices and herbs that I had never even thought of. I still recall the satisfying crunch of the lightly battered fried fish against the cilantro and cumin-spiced beans to this day.
Once I moved to California, there was a wealth of Mexican and El Salvadorean food choices, and I have been in heaven ever since. A favorite dish, casamiento, which is essentially rice and beans was introduced to me in the recent past. The version I've enjoyed the most is served at Panchita's here in San Francisco. Trying to recreate it has proven fruitless, so I can only satisfy my yearning for casamiento at Panchita's. I do, however, make a nice non-spicy rice and beans dish that has a similar homey/satisfying texture and flavor to it.
So for me, beans and rice were really just that: black beans, rice, some sour cream, sharp cheddar and if I'm feeling adventurous, diced red onion and avocado. It's one of my first out-on-my-own fast eacy comfort foods. I've been making this or a variation of this dish for close to 20 years. My rice and beans is only for me, sometimes my family, too, but it's not the kind of dish I even think to serve to guests.
I am including a real Casamiento recipe here, for those of you who have the time and heart to put into it.
Otherwise, this is how I make my own, lovely rice and beans. Enjoy!
Rice and Beans
- 1 can black beans (preferably Goya brand)
- 2 Chipotle Peppers in sauce (Embassa brand)
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1.5 cups white rice, cooked to your liking
- 1 avocado
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 small red onion diced
- Sour Cream to taste
Place black beans and chipotle peppers in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stirring, heat until thoroughly heated through.
Once the beans are warmed and the rice is cooked, serve 4 equal portions of each into bowls.
Add shredded cheddar, avocado pieces, red onion and sour cream to taste.
You can add some nice hot sauce at this point, if'n the chipotle's weren't hot enough.