I wanted to get some of these tips and tricks written down before next week in case anyone wants to do some prep work this weekend. Rice and beans by themselves can be boring, but it’s easy to spice them up a bit. I thought I’d give my typical preparation ideas, and then you can be creative from there…share your tips in the comments:

  • For all beans, I would soak them the night before if possible. Just pour the beans in a bowl and cover them with about two inches of water. No measuring necessary.
  • The next morning, rinse the beans. At this point, I like to throw them in the crock pot, so they’ll be tasty, ready, and slow-cooked to enhance the flavors by dinner time. I put the beans in the crock pot…this time covered with about an inch of water.
  • The experts say not to salt the cooking water because it could cause the beans outer skins to harden, but I like to add seasonings and/or vegetables at this point to spice up the beans a bit. Some examples:
    • For navy beans, I like to dice an onion, 3-4 stalks of celery, 2-3 carrots, and throw those in the crock pot along with a teaspoon of oregano, some freshly ground pepper, and a bay leaf or two.
    • For black beans, I like to add a teaspoon of cumin and some cayenne pepper (depending on how spicy you like it). Once it’s finished cooking, I typically add some minced garlic and salt and pepper. I like to mash up black beans a bit to thicken up the consistency.
    • For garbanzo beans, I don’t use as much water (maybe just a half inch for cooking), and I don’t cook them longer than four hours because they get mushy. I like to throw some basil and thyme in the cooking water. Once it’s finished cooking, some fresh squeezed lemon juice is delicious.
    • For kidney beans, I like to cook them to add to chili (but not for this week), so I usually add a diced onion, a few heaping teaspoons of chili powder, a teaspoon of cumin, and a scant teaspoon of paprika. We like it spicy over here, so I usually add a teaspoon of chipotle pepper and a sliced jalapeno pepper too.
    • I love Caribbean-style red beans and rice, so I plan to make a variation of this. I’ll let you know how it goes!
  • Make your rice in double or triple batches. Rice freezes wonderfully, and I actually think it often tastes better reheated. I like to “fry” it in some olive or coconut oil in a pan to crisp it back to life, so to speak.
  • Beans freeze wonderfully too, so feel free to make a big batch this weekend and freeze for later in the week.

Be sure to share your tips and tricks in the comments!