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Baked Rice With Chilies and Pinto Beans

Baked Rice With Chilies and Pinto Beans
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The problem with being a self-described “cookbook cook” is that it takes a little more oomph for me to step outside the assurance of my books and just create a recipe.

The other night, while making Black Bean Tostadas (recipe coming soon), I started imagining a good hearty rice dish as a side. I almost started to go through the tedium of looking up “rice” in my cookbooks when I realized I had a very clear idea of what I wanted, why not just make it?

So I did. And as with most things I have made without a recipe, I was very pleased with how it turned out. (Note to self: cook more often without a recipe.) I included some of my favorite flavors in here but, of course, this dish is infinitely adaptable. I happen to love the slight punch and tang of canned green chilies. If you like more spice, by all means add a fresh jalapeño or two. I used queso fresco partly because I also needed it for the tostadas, but partly because I love how mild it is. But you could certainly use Cheddar or Monterey Jack. Like more cheese? Add more and sprinkle some over the top before baking.

A rice note- unless I am making risotto or something where I specifically want brown rice, I almost always use basmati rice. I think it fluffs up beautifully and has terrific flavor.

  • 1 small
    red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves
    garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon
    dried oregano
  • 1 cup
    white rice
  • 2 cups
    water, or vegetable stock
  • 1 15-ounce can
    pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 7-ounce can
    green chiles, diced
  • 1/4 cup
    cilantro, chopped
  • 3/4 cup
    con queso fresco, crumbled
    canola or other neutral tasting oil
  1. Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat.  (I used a 3 quart saucepan.) Add just enough oil to coat the bottom, add the onion and a healthy pinch of salt. Sauté until softened, then add the garlic. Cook for another 3 minutes, then add the oregano. Sauté the mixture for another minute. 
  2. Add the rice and toss to coat with the fat and herbs, then pour in the water or stock. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Oil an 8×8 baking dish. Once the rice is done cooking, allow it to sit, off the heat, for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and, using a fork, carefully fluff the rice. Add the chilies and the beans and, without mushing the rice, carefully stir them in. Sprinkle on the cheese and cilantro and stir them in.
  4. Scrape the rice mixture into the prepared pan, cover with foil, then bake until the cheese is starting to melt and the dish is hot throughout, about 20 minutes. Remove the foil and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

This is totally the kind of dish you could make a day ahead. Prepare up through putting the finished rice in the baking dish, allow the whole thing to cool, cover with foil, then refrigerate overnight. From there, just put it directly into the oven and you will need to add 5-10 minutes to the baking time.

Nutritional Information

Makes: 6 servings
  • Calories429
  • Carbohydrates71.9 g
    • Dietary fiber12.3 g
  • Cholesterol10 mg
  • Fat4.4 g
    • Saturated fat1.8 g
  • Sodium289 mg
  • Protein22.7 g
* Nutritional Guidelines based on the USDA's MyPlate Standards.
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