Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Black Bean Rice with Tofu & Zucchini Skewers

This is simple,yet healthy meal.Black Beans and Rice are usually a Mexican or generally Latin combo.Black beans or rather beans in general are protein rich and a good source of nutritional antioxidants.Along with brown rice which is nutritious,the health quotient is intensified.I found a simple cuban style beans and rice recipe in wholefoods site and tried it with little adjustments and served it as a main dish topped with pico de gallo and along with healthy broiled/grilled tofu and zucchini.The meal is definitely protein rich and low in sodium.

Cuban Style Beans & Rice:
(adapted from here)


Ingredients:

Black Beans :1/4 presoaked and cooked till done
Brown Rice:1 cup
Water: 2.5 -3 cups


Onion: 1 medium
Green Bell Pepper: 1 small
Chilli Powder
Tomato puree: 1/4 cup + OR Chopped tomato:2-3 medium chopped


Salt
Pepper



Preparation:

Cook the black beans in enough water in a pressure cooker or stovetop as per choice.Clean and rinse the rice.Chop the onions finely and bell pepper into small bite sized pieces.Mince/crush the garlic.In a wide,thick bottomed pan,dry roast cleaned and rinsed brown rice for 2-3 minutes on the lowest heat till it becomes dry.This makes it fragrant and is suppose to enhance its flavour and sweetness. Add enough water to it and little salt and cook till done.sually 1 cup rice requires 2-3 cups of water.I used mix of water,half of water in which the beans has been cooked and little veg broth I had made from here.I used the pressure cooker for this and it took 3 whistles to cook.

Heat little olive oil in a large thick bottomed pan.Add onions and saute till it turns transparent. Add garlic ,green bell pepper,little salt and chilli powder.Stir fry for a few minutes and add pureed/chopped tomatoes.Simmer till the tomato gets cooked and add beans along with the water in which it has been cooked.Mix well and the let it cook/simmer till required consistency reached.This depends on whether you want to serve gravy as a side of rice or mixed with rice.I mixed with rice and cooked till all the water/liquid was absorbed.

Serve topped with little pico de gallo,light sour cream along with tofu skewers.


Variations:You can also go for parboiled/converted white rice if you are not accustomed to the taste of brown rice.Brown rice is a whole grain rice and is healthier than normal white rice.It is chewy and takes time to get accustomed to.Parboiled white rice like Ponni in India is 80% nutritionally similar to brownrice but it takes much less time to cook.

Pico de gallo

This is a simple raw salad made with tomatoes,onion,garlic ,jalapenos,cilantro and lime juice.Literally the word means'chicken's beak' as the pieces are so small.But the dish is so simple and refreshing,but definitely healthy.

Tomatoes
Onions
Jalapenos (seeded)
Coriander/Cilantro

Lime juice.

Chop all the ingredients finely and mix together along with lime juice and add little salt and pepper which is optional.More herbs and a flavouring like lime juice reduces the need to add salt.It is better to reduce the sodium level in every day food.

Variations: Go for Indian Style raita incorporating tomatoes,onions,curd and green chillies instead of Pico de Gallo and light sourcream.

Tofu and zucchini skewers
(adapted from here)


Tofu: 10-12 pieces cubed
Zuchini : 10-12 pieces


Marinade:
Soy sauce:1/4 cup (low sodium)
White Vinegar: 1 tbsp
Ginger: 1 medium piece or as per taste
Garlic: 1 small clove

Spices in the marinade as per taste
(can be crushed,powdered,whole)
Fennel Seeds
Star Anise
Clove
Cinnamon
Pepper

Preparation:

I took a big piece of tofu(half of the Mori Nu Extra Firm Tofu packet) and drained it by placing it within sheets of paper towels for about 15-20 minutes.This sort of firms it up ,but you can avoid it if in a hurry.Clean the zucchini and cut it into small pieces leaving the skin on.Prepare the marinade by mixing together all the ingredients .You can see that I have not added any salt here.Soy sauce though reduced/low sodium still has salt or around 60% of salt in the normal soy sauce is still there in the reduce/low sodium.The estimate gives about 1/4 cup+ ,which was more than enough for 1 big zucchini and 1 packet of tofu to be lightly marinated.Pour the marinade into a resealable plastic bag.

Cut the drained tofu into cubes and add tofu cubes and zucchini pieces into the marinade and let the bag chill in the fridge for atleast 1 hour or more.Meanwhile prepare the bamboo skewers by dipping them in cold water for atleast 15 minutes.Take out the bag from the fridge and on each skewer thread few tofu and zucchini pieces alternatively.Do so until all the marinated pieces are used.Grill on a gas top grill or broil in the hot oven.I broiled the skewers for 8-10 minutes per side or until they change the colour a little ,by placing them on a baking sheet which will also help hold the dripping if any. Tofu is supposed to be good for grilling,but some pieces do split while broiling and are caught in the baking sheet.You can simply panfry the pieces as well,but it could meaning adding more oil to it to prevent it from sticking.





Variation:Add different vegetables for making the skewer healthy and go for any marinade .It can also be reduced fat yoghurt and cilantro and turmeric and chilli powders as well.

The entire dish is heart and very filling and you can also use the entire items as a burrito filling for a grab-n-go dinner.The combo is healthy and definitely low in salt and healthier and I think this is a perfect entry to Monthly Mingle:Healthy Family Meals ,hosted this time by Michelle and Meeta.



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