Thursday, April 4, 2013

Black Bean Bowl {with Brown Rice, Sautéed Kale & Roasted Sweet Potato}

Though I would consider myself someone who pretty much never got on the casserole bandwagon that is so popular with some folks... there IS something about a "one pot" meal that definitely appeals to me. I love soups beyond what some might consider normal. I think a frittata filled with a host of yummy veggies is borderline genius. And... I believe that what I consider a "bean bowl" can deliver flavor in a way that is so satisfying that even age-old (or old-age) casserole enthusiasts might convert their ways.

Perhaps bean bowls ARE updated casseroles? I'd like to think so.

I know that over the years I've tended to view casseroles with a suspicious eye... wondering what lurked within their oft times indiscernible melee of ingredients.

To be fair, I HAVE tasted many casseroles that I've truly enjoyed from a flavor perspective (even if I wasn't entirely sure what they were composed of) and I DO realize that much has evolved on the casserole front. I think many folks have figured out the benefits of eliminating (or substantially reducing) processed creams/cheeses and soups; realized we don't need bags of salty chips or canned onions crumbled over the top of perfectly good food; and, most importantly, recognized that vegetables don't need to be boiled or baked into total submission.

And, I also realize that this bean bowl isn't really even in the casserole family (just in case anyone might wonder). Though parts of it are sautéed or oven-roasted, the actual mix comes together after all this cooking is done. Though, maybe... still... it can be considered a revamped casserole. A "beanbole."

Like a casserole, the ingredients in this bean bowl all get mixed together. So, like a casserole, it's a one-dish meal (in the end). And, like a casserole, it's pretty quick and easy.

Yet, unlike many casseroles, everything in this "one-dish" meal is readily identifiable. Black beans (yes, canned... typically Eden Food's Organic Black Beans that have been thoroughly drained and rinsed. I think these beans are quite tasty for canned and, in addition to being organically grown, are packaged in BPA-free cans); short-grain brown rice; sautéed kale; roasted sweet potato; roasted red onion; sliced black olives; a fresh chop of cilantro and a drizzle of fresh lime juice... in one bowl. It's a yummy, good-for-you one-dish beanbole.

Black Bean Bowl
made for two

3 cups diced sweet potato or yam, as preferred (I used one large Garnet yam)
2 cups diced red onion (1 medium onion)
2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, divided
4 cups loosely-packed chopped kale (I used green curly kale)
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 3.8-ounce can sliced black olives, drained
1 to 2 cups cooked short-grain brown rice
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
2 limes, cut into wedges

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place sweet potato/yam on one-half of a large baking sheet, and red onion on the other half. Apportioned evenly, drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil over top and sprinkle with approximately 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. With hands, gently toss each individually to mix through thoroughly, and arrange each in one layer to ensure even roasting. Note: dividing sweet potato/yam and red onion on baking sheet will allow you to remove red onion a bit before sweet potato/yam, if necessary. Roast for 30 minutes, until golden and cooked through (checking intermittently between 20 and 30 minutes, should red onion need to be removed early).

(If you don't have cooked brown rice available, this is a good time to get that on the stove.)

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add chopped kale. Season with salt and pepper, to taste (about 1/4 teaspoon each) and 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder. Sauté for approximately 3 to 5 minutes, until wilted and cooked through lightly. Transfer kale to a large bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. In the same skillet you prepared kale, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium heat and add black beans. Season beans with salt and pepper, to taste (approximately 1/8 teaspoon of each) and 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder; heat through for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Add cooled bean mixture to bowl with sautéed kale, along with 1 to 2 cups cooked brown rice (as preferred), olives, and chopped cilantro; mix through to combine.

Remove sweet potato/yam and red onion from oven. Let cool to room temperature and then add to bowl with bean mixture. Serve immediately with wedges of fresh lime to squeeze over top.

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