For an aspiring food blogger, the road is not as easy as one might think.

I, for example, keep getting about halfway through whatever delicious thing I am eating before realizing “Doh! I should have taken a picture of that!” Which is why today I submit to you “The Last Bite.”

This is a picture of the last bite of the second bowl of Rice & Beans  à la Menke that constituted my lunch today.

I first became addicted to the fresh flavors of this low-fat dish when I was visiting friends in Miami.  Despite the lamentations of my hostess about the lack variety in our diets, her husband and I ate it every day.

The combination of flavors in this healthy vegetarian dish is complex and surprisingly compelling.  The fresh cilantro gives it a bright note that plays beautifully with the richness of the olives and earthiness of the black beans. By using brown rice and adding the chopped bell pepper close to the end, you get a variety of textures, and I personally like the subtle kick from the dash (about 1/4 tsp) of hot pepper flakes.

So, direct from the unknown cookbook author, to my Miami friends, to me, to you… Here it is, the recipe for Rice & Beans  à la Menke

Black Beans & Rice à la Menke

2 Tbs Olive Oil

1 large onion coarsely chopped

½ head garlic peeled & minced

½ tsp salt (less if you are using canned tomatoes)

1 bay leaf

1 tsp thyme

Generous dash of red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper (optional)

1 bell pepper diced

1 cup brown rice

1 ¾ cups water (more if you like your rice a little soft)

1 ½ cups fresh diced tomatoes (two medium sized tomatoes)

1 can black beans – drained & rinsed (I’ve tried many brands and Goya is still my favorite – NOT the low sodium ones)

½ cup coarsely chopped cilantro –  loosely packed

1/3 cup minced olives (green, greek, calamata, etc…)

  • Add the oil, onions, garlic and herbs to your rice pan.
  • Sautee until the onions start to soften (about  3 min).
  • Add the water and rice.
  • Bring to a boil then cover and cook on very low heat for 45 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed.
  • Remove from heat
  • Stir in the olives, black beans, diced bell pepper, tomatoes and cilantro
  • Garnish with more fresh cilantro upon serving.

If it is too thick, add a little more water AFTER the dish has cooled.

This is the perfect dish to make on Sunday night if you are looking for something to eat for lunch all week. (Though you might find a single batch isn’t enough to get you through to Friday.)

For college students, or anyone else looking for a healthy way to stay on budget, you can’t beat it! The combination of beans and rice provides all the amino acids you need to make complete proteins, and the complex and fresh flavors keep it from getting boring.


Just a note: This recipe is very low-fat and 100% suitable for sharing with your vegetarian and vegan friends, and even people like me who don’t typically like brown rice.


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