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Sergio's Puerto Rican rice and beans recipe with sofrito

For a satisfying starchy side dish, sometimes you should go for the rice and beans. Versatile when it comes to adding flavors, rice and beans are also very affordable foods. To really make your budget bountiful, stock your pantry with dried beans. You can buy them in bulk for very little money and they keep for a long time. Reference the "how to soften dry beans" subtopic below.

This rice and beans recipe uses this sofrito recipe that you can prepare ahead of time and have on hand for flavoring dishes like this one. The ingredient Sazon by Goya can be found in Hispanic or Asian markets.

Recipe ingredients:

2 cups softened pinto beans (or any beans like white beans, red beans, black beans, or chick peas)

1/2 cup reserved bean juice (either from the can or from the softening process)

2 Tablespoons olive oil

3 Tablespoons sofrito

1 Tablespoon Sazon by Goya (with culantro y achiote)

1 Tablespoon oregano

2 cubes of squash, cut 2 inches by 2 inches

1 green bell pepper, sliced

1 8-oz. can tomato sauce

1 cup rice (white, brown, your choice)

2 cups (approximately) water

Begin to prepare the rice on the stovetop with 2 cups of water or use a rice cooker and follow the directions for cooking rice with your specific cooker. It's best to have the rice finished and ready for the addition of the rest of the ingredients as soon as they are done cooking.

Then, in large sauce pan sauté the sofrito in oil until fragrant. Add beans and remaining ingredients. Bring to soft boil and simmer on low for 30 minutes or until squash and pepper are very soft. Stir often to prevent scorching. Serve over rice.

Rice and beans are eaten daily in Puerto Rico, but taste great all over the world.

How to soften dry beans

1-1/2 cups dry beans (any kind)

3 cups water

2 teaspoons salt

4 or 5 quart stew pot (not your best cookware if possible)

Rinse beans in strainer. Add ingredients to pot. Bring to hard boil. Boil for 10 minutes, reduce heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally and adding water as needed. Beans should always have at least 1/4 inch of water covering them. As beans become soft and absorb water you will need to add up to another quart of water while cooking. Cooking time varies depending on bean type. For example, pintos take about 1 hour.

You may also simmer beans for 30 minutes, add another cup of water, turn off heat, and let covered beans sit all day. You can resume boiling and continue softening later.

Softening dry beans is easy and with practice every batch is better. Sourcing your beans dry is also much healthier and tastier than canned beans

Sofrito recipe

Prepare sofrito style flavor ahead of time to make cooking your favorite Mediterranean and Caribbean foods easy. It works as a flavor base to enhance many dishes, but mainly grain and legume dishes. Sofrito is fundamental in Puerto Rican cooking.

Recipe ingredients:

1 large green pepper seeded

1/2 large red pepper seeded

1 small yellow onion

4 small cloves garlic

1/2 cup fresh cilantro

Finely chop all ingredients in food processor. Store the sofrito in a jar for up to two weeks in the refrigerator. Spoon out desired amount as needed when cooking. For longer term storage, you can also freeze little blocks of the sofrito in ice cube trays to create handy units to add quickly to your cooking.

Recipe courtesy of Sergio, as understood by Michelle Matkovich

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