This wonderful cookbook by Andrea Chesman absolutely delivers what the title promises: recipes for delicious appetizers, soups, salads, main courses, quick breads, and deserts made from rice, beans, or grains, or a combination of them.
A few days ago, I prepared dinner for myself and my BF, using two recipes from this book, and it was such a smashing success that I just had to share the experience.
One thing I made is called Almost Mom’s Quick Chili. According to the author,
I didn’t exactly set out to trick people with this recipe. When I made it for the first time with the textured vegetable protein (TVP) I purchased on a whim, I was merely expecting a certain change in the texture of my chili. I never expected that my kids would think the chili had ground meat in it….
When I leafed through the book to find some quick bread to go with the chili, I came across a recipe for Pineapple Corn Muffins. Andrea promised that “The combination of pineapple and cornmeal is surprising and delicious” and that the muffins go well with black bean soup. I figured they’d be pretty good with the chili too.
So I whipped up a batch and when I put them on the table, the look on my BF’s face was amazing. “Are those corn muffins,” he asked, looking as if he couldn’t believe his good fortune.
“They’re pineapple corn muffins,” I answered, setting the dish on the table.
“Pineapple corn muffins?” he asked weakly, reaching for one as he spoke.
What I really like about this book
- The introduction has lots of useful information about buying, storing, and cooking various types of rice, beans, and grains.
- The emphasis is on preparing healthful, nutritious food which tastes great.
- It has terrific recipes for lesser-known rice, beans, and grains. Maybe I’ve led a sheltered life but—in all my years of cooking—I’d never prepared pearled barley or couscous or bulgur or cracked wheat or quinoa . Now, thanks to this cookbook, they’re staples in my kitchen.
- Most of the recipes can be prepared fairly quickly. Uncooked beans need to be soaked overnight, but they can be soakin’ while you’re sleepin.’ And many recipes can be made with either uncooked beans (soaked and then cooked) or with canned beans for those times when you just don’t have time.
- Some of the recipes, especially the salads, are fabulous pot-luck offerings: easy, quick, delicious, and a bit out-of-the-ordinary. Some that I’ve brought to potlucks are :
***Couscous and Black Bean Salad
***Mediterranean Tomato-Rice Salad with Feta and Dill,
***Southwestern Rice and Bean Salad,
***Chickpea Salad with Tomatoes and Feta, and
*** Curried Rice and Fruit Salad with Mango Chutney Dressing (Well, I haven’t actually made this yet, but it sure sounds delicious.)
Buying rice, beans, and grain
These items are often available in stores which sell bulk food. By bulk, I don’t mean 25-pound bags of beans, for example. I mean rice, beans, or grains in plastic containers, as shown above.
For the large containers, you scoop out as much as you want into a plastic bag. For the small containers, you put a plastic bag over the opening and pull down the handle.
You may have to search or ask around a bit to find a supermarket or specialty store near you which sells rice, beans, and grains in bulk, but it’s well worth it.