Think “Healthy” Food is the Wallflower of the Cuisine World? Try this Spicy little Dish! Plain Ingredients Heat up your Plate.

29 Sep

   Don’t be fooled by the plain exterior of brown rice, frozen corn, black beans and some peppers. These babies — with the right encouragement and company — can give you an evening you won’t soon forget. Black Bean Bowl had its first date in the Savvy Single kitchen on this Friday night.

I adapted this recipe from two: Black Bean Rice Bowl (from Canadian Living [CL] magazine, October 2012 issue, page 202) and Salsa with Shrimp and Black Beans (from Les Lunchs de Geneviève, by Geneviève O’Gorman, Éditions La Semaine). Dinner was ready in less than an hour (most of it rice cooking time) and made 3 servings.

Brown long-grain rice takes a long time to cook, even in a rice-cooker. Rinse and drain the rice well before placing it into the rice cooker or sauce pan with the prescribed amount of water and a splash of vegetable oil. I made enough for three servings. When all the liquid has been absorbed into the rice (or the rice cooker switches to warm), remove from heat and keep covered for 5 – 10 minutes. Fluff rice and keep warm until serving.

Open a 19 oz can of black beans (I used a no-salt added brand), place beans in a colander and rinse very well with cold water. Allow the beans to drain.

I started out using the salsa’s method for making its dressing. In a large, non-stick skillet set over Medium heat toast 1 teaspoon coriander seeds and 1 teaspoon cumin seeds for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add 1/8 cup of extra-virgin Olive oil and a pinch of chili pepper flakes. Stir and allow it to infuse for 5 minutes.

At this juncture, I followed the CL recipe, chopping two green onions and enough red onion to measure ½ cup. Return the skillet to a burner over medium heat, and when the oil mixture has warmed again, add the onions and cook for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, chop either a red or orange sweet bell pepper, add to the onions in the pan.

After a minute or two, add 3 cloves of minced garlic, 1 Tbsp chili powder and 1 teaspoon dried oregano. Cook, stirring for 1 minute.

Into the fry pan, add the drained black beans, 1 cup of frozen corn kernels and 1 cup of water. Bring the contents of the pan to a boil, then reduce the heat enough to allow the mixture to retain a brisk simmer.

The original recipe suggested this could be accomplished in about 3 minutes. I found it took about 10 minutes, but that could be because I added frozen shrimp (to mirror the salsa recipe) at this juncture.

I used about 3/8lb (170g) cooked, peeled shrimp (about 15 – 16 shrimp) because it was the fastest option for me. If the mixture had cooked down in 3 minutes, using the cooked shrimp would have turned out perfectly. Tonight’s meal was fine, the shrimp had not turned hard and rubbery as can be the case when shrimp is over-cooked. But I worry  the remaining helpings may render some unpleasant shrimp. (See Note below)

While the liquid in your pan cooks down, chop a ripe small or plum tomato and a ripe, but firm avocado. When the bean/shrimp mixture has cooked down, add about 2 teaspoons of cilantro paste, mix well and cook another minute. Remove the pan from the stove and squeeze the juice of one lime overtop (approximately 1 tablespoon). Stir.

Spoon cooked rice into the bottom of a deep cereal or pasta bowl. Spoon the hot mixture over top of the rice and garnish liberally with diced tomato and avocado. I thought an additional garnish of sour cream might be needed, but it really wasn’t.

This plain Jane turned out to have a spicy, complex bite. And the scent was quite divine, too. But this dish was not so forward that you rushed for the water glass or had to chug back the beer that went so well with this ‘date’. I am happy I gave this humble recipe a twirl around the dance floor. This number will make it into many a black book . . . in ink!

Note:    Here’s what I would do the next time I make this dish. If using cooked shrimp, only add it to the bean mixture for the last 2 – 3 minutes when reducing the liquid. Alternately, you could use uncooked shrimp (peel first) and add it to the pan after 5 – 6 minutes of reducing the liquid. The goal is to have shrimp that are still plump-looking, opaque and bright pink in colour.

Black Bean Bowl    Serves 3        Ready in about 45 minutes

1 tsp (5mL)               Coriander seeds
1 tsp (5mL)               Cumin seeds
1/8 C (30mL)           Extra-virgin olive oil
pinch                          Dried red chili pepper flakes
½ C (125mL)            Chopped red onions
2                                  Green onions (white and light green only), chopped
1                                   Red or orange sweet (Bell) pepper, chopped
1 tsp (5mL)                Dried oregano leaves

1 Tbsp (15mL)            Chili powder
3                                   Cloves garlic, minced
1- 19 oz (540mL)      can black beans (sodium-reduced), rinsed and drained
1 cup (250mL)          Frozen corn kernels
1 cup (250mL)          Water
3/8lb (170g)             frozen shrimp (about 15), either cooked or uncooked, peeled and de-veined. [See cooking Note]
2 tsp (10mL)             Cilantro paste
1                                   Small, ripe tomato or plum tomato, chopped
1                                   Avocado, peeled, pitted and chopped
1 Tbsp (15ml)            Lime juice (or    juice of one small fresh lime)

Enough long-grain, brown rice to make 3 servings as per rice instructions (generally
1.5 cups (375mL) rice to 3 cups (750mL) water).


3 Responses to “Think “Healthy” Food is the Wallflower of the Cuisine World? Try this Spicy little Dish! Plain Ingredients Heat up your Plate.”

  1. Gillian Wallace October 5, 2012 at 5:45 pm #

    Sounds fabulous. We’ve made a simpler variation of this in the past but I like yours better, especially with the shrimp. It’s on my must-try list now. Thanks!

    • Susan at Savvy Single Suppers October 6, 2012 at 10:50 am #

      Hey, Gillian
      The original recipe suggested the addition of a grilled chicken breast as on option to the original vegetarian, sliced and placed over the black beans and rice. But I had a hankering for shrimp and was pleased with the combination. Let me know it turns out for you. And thanks for checking out my blog.


  1. Planning Day — 31 October 2012 « Savvy Single Suppers - October 2, 2012

    […] meeting and an evening with some old uni friends), there’s one left-over serving of last week’s Black Bean & Shrimp Bowl in the fridge and then I’m off for a long weekend with my folks, sibs and their families. If I […]

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