Autumn is here guys! The season of soups and stews is coming. How can you say no to a warm bowl of goodness on a cold breezy night? There’s so many hot stews that will soon conquer our dinner tables. I love slow-cooking! It brings out so many flavours and creates delicious sauces!
We are constantly thinking about diversifying our everyday menu, and what better way than using seasonal vegetables and trusting chefs like me. I like cooking different meals and trying new things. There is so much to learn about cooking that we have no time to waste. There is something nostalgic about eating stews. It takes me back to when I was a small child and my grandmother would cook beans at least once a week. It’s an all-time favourite meal here, in Bulgaria. We love our beans with lots of vegetables and some warm bread. I always thought that we are the only people in the World that eat that type of food. I could never imagine that actually every single country has a different recipe with beans. As time went by, I grew up and I kept trying lots of versions with the same products and I was always amazed by the results. When I cooked my first beans stew I was so proud of myself – I can actually go back in time with every single bite.
Today I have prepared for you a red beans and rice recipe. It’s something that is widely cooked in Louisiana. It normally consists of red beans, cooked with vegetables and spices, served with white rice. My version is, as usual, a bit different and very delicious! The things that make my stew distinct are mushrooms, red lentils and dried red peppers.
Eating beans has numerous health benefits for us. It bolsters the cardiac system, provides lots of energy, reduces cholesterol levels, reduces the risk of having a heart attack etc. They are packed with proteins and it’s a great meat substitute in that matter. The same applies for the mushrooms and the red lentils – that’s why I have all of these together. It’s a must have!
I will now give you the ingredients in order to get 6 servings of beans and rice. It takes 2 hours to cook it.
Red Beans and Rice Recipe
- 3 cups of red kidney beans or any other beans that you like
- 1 cup of mushrooms
- 1 medium sized carrot
- 2 bell peppers I used 1 green and 1 red
- 1 head of red onion
- 1 plum tomato
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 dried red pepper
- 1 cup of red lentils
- Season with bay leaf paprika powder, dried thyme, dried oregano, salt and black pepper
For the rice:
- 2 cups of basmati rice
- 4 cups of water
- A pinch of salt
Soak the beans overnight.
Before you start cooking, get rid of the soaking water and wash the beans.
Add them to a soup pot and cover with water.
Now comes a secret from my grandmother - when the water comes to a boil - get rid of it. She told me that the first boiling takes out the chemical, the one that can make your belly hurt, out of the beans. So you need to get rid of the first boiling water and rinse the beans one more time.
Now you can start with the cooking.
Have your vegetables ready:
Chop the peppers into small chunks, finely chop the garlic and onions, cut the carrots into small strips, chop the tomatoes into small pieces, tear the dried peppers and slice the mushrooms.
Add all the ingredients, together with the beans and all the seasoning to a pot. Don’t put the red lentils yet - they will come in after an hour of cooking. Fill up the pot with water - choose a pot that can fit all of that, having in mind that the water needs to be double than the ingredients.
When it starts boiling, lower the heat to medium, and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile cook your basmati rice.
Using a small pot, add 2 cups of basmati and 4 cups of water. Season with salt and put on the heat. As soon as it starts boiling, put the lid on, lower the heat, and let simmer for 10-12 minutes. When the water has evaporated, you can take it off the heat and let it stay covered for another 15 minutes. This way of cooking will give you as a result fluffy and delicious rice.
Now add the red lentils, and cook for another hour - and don’t forget to stir as the red lentils tends to stick to the bottom and burn.
You can always add another cup of water, while cooking, if you think it evaporates fast.
After 2 hours of cooking, you can taste your stew and adjust the seasoning.
Serve with the cooked basmati and enjoy!
STEP ONE – SOAK THE BEANS OVERNIGHT
Put your beans in a pot and cover with double the amount of water. Leave them to soak overnight – they don’t need to be in the fridge. This will ensure faster cooking on the next day.
STEP TWO – FIRST BOIL
Now add the beans to a pot and add water just enough to cover them. When it starts boiling, get rid of that water. It’s a secret that my grandmother told me. The first time the beans start boiling takes out a chemical – the one that can give you a stomach ache. That’s why we need to get rid of it.
STEP THREE – PREPARE THE OTHER INGREDIENTS
While the first boil is happening, prep your vegetables as shown in the picture.
STEP FOUR – START COOKING THE BEANS STEW
Add all of the ingredients, except the red lentils, to a pot and cover with water. The amount of water needs to be double of all the ingredients – so choose your pot wisely.
Add all of the seasonings and put on high heat. When it starts boiling, lower the heat and let it simmer for 1 hour before adding the lentils.
STEP FIVE – PREPARE THE RICE
Cook the basmati. The ratio basmati:water should always be 1:2. Add the rice and water to a pot, and season with a bit of salt. Put it on high heat, and as soon as it starts boiling lower the heat and put a lid on. Let it cook for 10-12 minutes, until all the water has evaporated. Then take it off the heat and leave it covered for another 15 minutes – this will give you fluffy rice as a result.
STEP SIX – ADD THE LENTILS TO THE STEW
After 1 hour of cooking it’s time to add the lentils. Make sure you stir often as the lentils tend to stick to the bottom and burn. Cook for another hour on a low heat.
When the cooking is done you can adjust the seasoning and serve with the rice. Enjoy!
I added red lentils, not only because it’s delicious but because it thickens your stew perfectly. It’s perfect to use it instead of adding white flour to your meal. It also brings lots of nutrients to it. If you don’t like red lentils, you can add a couple of finely chopped potatoes instead – they will do the same job for you.
What is your favorite autumn stew? Please let us know in the comment section below.
Thanks for being with us today – see you soon!