Project Weeknight: Fast Santa Fe Rice & Beans

Hey, look at me! Two Project Weeknight posts in one week!

I've had my eyes on this recipe from Karina's Kitchen for awhile and finally got around to trying it.

I knew I'd have to rely on pre-cooked rice to make the time deadline. I usually have some in the freezer. In fact, I had all of the ingredients on hand except for red pepper which is ironic since I almost always have those. Since peppers were so expensive last year I started buying bags of frozen pepper strips and picking out the green ones, which I despise dislike. I figure half a bag is close to one pepper. So I stopped on the way home and picked up a couple of bags of peppers which put me home about 15 minutes later than usual. Crap! I resigned myself to eating late and got to cooking.

I did make some changes. Here is my take with my changes starred:
Fast Sante Fe Rice & Beans
My version of Santa Fe Rice Bake from Karina's Kitchen. Be sure to check out the original recipe.

*3 cups cooked brown rice, reheated
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 onion, diced
1 sweet bell pepper- red, yellow, or orange
3/4 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
2-3 tablespoons lime juice
Sea salt, to taste
1-2 teaspoons chili powder
*2-3 teaspoons ground cumin (I like a lot of cumin)
A pinch of cinnamon (Karina's secret ingredient)
*1 can whole tomatillos, drained and chopped
*1 small can chopped green chiles
*1 - 14oz can regular tomatoes (I used whole and chopped them up)
*1 - 15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
A splash of extra virgin olive oil

Sauté the garlic, onion, peppers, and corn. Cook until everything looks thoroughly sautéed. Add the dry spices, stir for a minute, then add the canned goods.

Simmer for 5-10 minutes, but don't let it dry out. There should be a fair amount of sauce to flavor the rice. Add the warm rice, combine thoroughly, adding a splash of oil and the parsley. Simmer gently (covered if you can) for another 5 minutes or so.
I added the black beans so I could call it an entree. Could even try two can's worth, if you're feeling bean-y.

I also condensed the cooking instructions because I'm lazy. I decided up front that I was not going to heat it in the oven. A crunchy brown top did not seem to be an integral part of the dish so heating it through in the skillet was good enough. I think pre-heating the rice in the microwave was a good idea - the mixture stayed hot and started simmering almost right away.

I served it in big bowls with queso cotija crumbled on top. I looked up at the clock and it was 6:30! I'd made the deadline!

And you know what? It was pretty good. Young Son ate it, although it might have been too tangy for him. The tomatillos were pretty tart so I think we could have cut back on the lime juice. The cotija probably wasn't a good choice - it's like a salty feta. I'd use something milder and meltier next time. And a diced avocado wouldn't be a bad thing, either.

Now my canned-goods version is decidedly less elegant than Katrina's. With the fresh tomato and chiles, hers would definitely have a fresher flavor profile. But mine can be on the table in just over half an hour.

That's what I'm talkin' 'bout.

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