When you decide you are going to be selective about what you eat and avoid foods that are overly processed, contaminated with pesticides, or grown with antibiotics and hormones, you have to be flexible. There are going to be times that you need to adapt a recipe you had in mind to fit with the ingredients available to you.
Perfect example… I had my eye on a recipe for black beans and rice, topped with shredded rotisserie chicken. The problem? The organic market I go to doesn’t sell rotisserie chicken. And I don’t think I can eat non-organic chicken anymore. Not a big deal though. I’d just pick up some chicken breasts and cook them myself. But when I got to the market I remembered that they get their chicken delivered every Thursday, so by Wednesdays they are pretty much wiped out. Ditto for pork and steak.
Time to improvise…. How about… sweet potatoes? Yes, I know: sweet potatoes are nothing like chicken. But I had some at home already, and it seemed like they would go well with everything else. I also was eager to use the sweet potatoes before a certain little girl cat discovered my new hiding place for them. Because a couple nights ago just as I was falling asleep, I heard a THUD in the dining room and walked out to find Matilda on the counter, staring down at a sweet potato on the floor. A sweet potato with some little teeth marks in it, that is. I’m impressed- she somehow managed to get it out of a basket and then knock it onto the floor.
Anyway… this was very close to being vegan, except that I didn’t have vegetable broth at home, so I had to use chicken broth. But that could easily be changed if you want it to be vegan. Or, if you’re wanting meat, check out the original recipe from Bon Appetit: Black Beans and Rice with Chicken and Apple Salsa.
Apples might seem strange with this, but the tartness and crispy texture add a completely different dimension to familiar Mexican flavors. I look forward to trying this again in the future with chicken, but even without, it was yummy and very filling.
Black Beans and Rice with Sweet Potatoes and Apple Salsa (serves 4-6, adapted from Bon Appetit, January 2012)
Cook enough brown rice to yield 4 cups, cooked, according to package directions.
In the mean time…
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel two sweet potatoes and cut into 1-inch chunks. Place sweet potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with ground coriander. Season with salt. Roast until tender, turning occasionally, about 20-25 minutes.
Peel and chop one Granny Smith apple. In a small bowl, toss with about 1/4 cup chopped cilantro and one teaspoon fresh lime juice. The original recipe also calls for two tablespoons chopped red onion. I won’t lie- I looked at that salsa and pictured how it would pop with some red onion in there. But I left it out. For Nick. That’s love.
Heat two tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook 1/4 cup chopped onion and 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped until soft, about 6-7 minutes. Add three minced garlic cloves, one teaspoon ground coriander, 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin, and 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder, stir for 2 minutes. Stir in three cups chicken broth and two 15-oz cans of black beans, drained and rinsed. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to medium heat. Smash some of the beans with the spoon. Stir until sauce thickens, about 8-10 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and lime juice.
Divide rice and beans among bowls. Top with sweet potatoes and apple salsa. Garnish with cilantro and lime wedges.