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The Winter Solstice… It is the shortest, darkest day of the year and a day when I inevitably breathe a sigh of relief because from that point on, the days begin to get a little lighter. Seattle is pretty far North, rainy and grey during December, so the sunrise happens close to 7 am and by 4 pm it is nearly dark. In these days of isolation and staying at home, this is not good. Thankfully – I nearly always find solace in my kitchen.
Yesterday I pulled out a bunch of saved recipes I wanted to try at some point and stumbled upon “Cheesy Rice and Beans” from Kate McDermott’s blog tucked away in my stash. I got right to work. I decided to use brown rice since I like the nutty flavor and I used black beans – although next time around I will try freshly made pinto beans. I grated all the cheese by hand. My two older Seattle grandsons, who are in my bubble, helped me make a double batch of this so that they could take a casserole dish home. We donated some to Jakey boy and family and still had some left for the two of us here.
My daughter called me after a harrowing day of work, and said it smelled so good she wanted to get rid of her kids, put on a bathrobe, crack a beer and eat the entire thing! This dish is surprisingly good and filling. All you need is a little fruit and a green salad or roasted vegetables. It reheats beautifully and I see no reason why it wouldn’t do well in the freezer. My entire bubble gave it a thumbs up.
Brown Rice with Black Beans & Cheese
- 2 ½ cups already cooked brown rice (I do mine in the pressure cooker)
- 2 tablespoon good olive oil
- 2 brown-skinned onions peeled, cut in half, and thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 eggs
- 1 ½ cups 2 % milk
- 2 teaspoons dry mustard
- ⅛ teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 cup grated Gruyère or Swiss cheese
- 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1 15-ounce can black beans rinsed and drained or 2 cups home-cooked black beans, drained. You could use pinto or kidney beans as well.
In a large skillet, add olive oil to the pan over medium heat. Sauté onions and garlic, stirring occasionally, until onions are barely browned.
In a large bowl, whisk eggs. Stir in milk. Add dry mustard, nutmeg, salt. Mix the cheeses together but save ½ cup to sprinkle on top of the casserole.
Add cheese, onions, rice, and beans to the liquids and mix together.
Grease a 9×9 casserole pan with olive oil. Turn the rice, cheese, and bean mixture into the pan. Sprinkle ½ cup of cheese on top.
Bake at 375F for 40 minutes. Let it cool for about 10 minutes before cutting into squares and serving.
Cook’s note: As long as you are messing up the kitchen, I think it is good to make a double batch of this! The original recipe says to use whatever cheese you have on hand. Colby, Monterey Jack, Fontina, Mild Cheddar, Pepper Jack are all fine.