Saturday, February 20, 2010

Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice

By Rachel Kleinsorge

One of the things I do to be a healthy writer is attend dance class twice a week. I love the way dancing makes me feel glamorous and strong, the way it lets me step outside of myself for an hour. However, I don’t love the way I have to squeeze in dinner between leaving my day job at five and arriving at the dance studio at six-thirty. With drive time, I have about 45 minutes to eat and dress for class. At first I would grab something quick on the way, a burger or a wrap, but I quickly realized my not-healthy meals were undoing all of the work I did on the dance floor. I’ve solved the problem by bringing out an old favorite in the kitchen: the slow cooker.

This recipe is for red beans and rice. Traditional New Orleans style red beans and rice is a meal served on Mondays with women setting the beans out to soak on Sunday while they do the laundry. That recipe usually includes sausage or ham. This recipe has a Caribbean twist that replaces the meat with tomatoes, and thanks to canned beans, you don’t have to wait for anything to soak. You can have this modern version Wednesday, Friday, or any day of the week when you’d like a hot, healthy, meatless meal waiting for you. You can even prepare it the night before and use a kitchen timer when you’re in a real rush.

A few words about why this recipe is healthy. It’s low in fat, but still packed with fiber and protein from the beans. The tomatoes give the dish a high amount of lycopene, vitamin C, vitamin A, and potassium.

Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice

1 can (15 oz.) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes
¾ cup water
1 small onion, diced (approximately 1 ½ cups)
¼ cup diced green pepper
1 tablespoon garlic
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon red pepper
½ teaspoon paprika
1 bay leaf
Dash pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small to medium slow cooker. Stir well. Cook on low for four to six hours, until hot throughout. While the beans are cooking, make your favorite rice in the usual manner. Serve the beans over brown rice for health’s sake or white rice for tradition’s sake.

You may not have noticed it yet, but I hate spicy food. I’ll cheerfully eat whole cloves of garlic or sautéed onions while picking out any chili peppers or bell peppers that might sneak into a meal. The recipe above is made to my taste, with the ingredients in italics for all of you who like your food with a little kick. I find slow-cookers bring out even mild flavors. What are your slow cooker favorites? Will your red beans and rice be super spicy or just rich and wonderful?


When she’s not cooking, buying, or dreaming about food, Rachel Kleinsorge writes steamy paranormal mystery romances. She is currently waiting for the call from her agent, the amazing Carolyn Grayson, while working on her next novel.

5 comments:

Michelle Butler on February 20, 2010 at 10:44 AM said...

Thanks, Rachel! This recipe looks great. I look forward to trying it.

What is it that makes you like your slow cooker so much? I received one a few years ago as a housewarming gift? I've made several items in it, but I just can't figure out what makes folks rave about it. It seems to me like any slow-cooker recipe can be made on top of the stove in a fraction of the time. What am I missing?

Rachel Kleinsorge on February 20, 2010 at 2:34 PM said...

Michelle,
The biggest perk for using a slow cooker is being able to prep dinner the night before or in the morning and come home to it done. Yes, I could cook on the stove top but on days I use the slow cooker I don't have the time to do more than put food on a plate. Some night it’s faster than ordering take out or hitting the drive through.
~Rachel

MaryC on February 20, 2010 at 2:50 PM said...

The recipe sounds delicious, Rachel. Thanks!

Michelle Butler on February 20, 2010 at 2:52 PM said...

Thanks, Rachel! I was starting to wonder if it was a convenience thing. That's what my mom thought. I do so much of that cooking one day for the month that I don't tend to cook on a daily basis.

Tawny on February 20, 2010 at 3:59 PM said...

Oh yum, this looks fabulous! I love slow cookers, and yes, purely for convenience. I can throw the ingredients in there in the morning, to school, exercise, errands, etc and don't have to stop my day at 4:30 to start prepping a family dinner, since it'll be done when everyone gets home.

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