After a dark week, a semblance of the woman I used to be is slowly returning and I couldn’t be more thrilled. This week presents all sorts of excitement from a new opportunity, to a meeting with my book agent to discuss a new project, to catching up with friends, to preparations for my three-week European holiday, I’ve much to do in a small amount of time. In the midst of all the frenzy, I did manage to squeeze in time this weekend to have a proper dinner on my deck, replete with napkins, sparkling water and a soothing candle — my version of burning sage, if you will.
Cheers to my private cleaning, and I hope you’ll enjoy this superb dish just as much as I did!
INGREDIENTS: Recipe courtesy of Blue Apron
1 cup medium grain brown rice
2 tbsp vegetable base (paste)
1 tbsp Mexican spice blend (fennel, cayenne, turmeric and chili powder)
1 yellow bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1 red onion
1 avocado, ripened
1 bunch of cilantro (1/4-1/2 cup chopped, depending on your preference)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
4 corn tortillas
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Make the rice: Preheat the oven to 425F. In a medium skillet bring 2 1/2 cups of water, vegetable base, spice blend, a pinch of salt and rice to a boil. Once it’s bubbling, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until the rice has absorbed all of the water.
Prepare your mis en place: Cube the avocado and squeeze some lime juice so it won’t oxidize and turn brown. Cut the peppers into strips. Finely dice the onion. Roughly chop the cilantro. Shred the cheese. Cut the tortilla into strips.
Cook the vegetables: In a large pan, heat olive oil on high until the pan becomes hot. Reduce the heat to medium, and add the onions and peppers and cook for three minutes. I like to add a pinch of salt so the onions sweat and don’t burn. Once the veggies have softened, add the rinsed black beans and cook for another two minutes. While this is happening, toss the tortilla strips in olive oil and spread out on a medium baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes, tossing the strips halfway through the process. You want the strips crispy but not brown. Set aside everything.
Bake the casserole: Toss the cooked rice in the vegetable pan and transfer the mixture to a large baking dish, spreading the ingredients evenly. Top with grated cheese and cook in the oven for 5-7 minutes until the cheese is melted and lightly browned.
Finish it off!: Top the hot mixture with the tortilla strips, avocado and cilantro. Enjoy!