Rice with Eggplant and Beans

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon virgin olive oil
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup recipe-ready crushed tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, or 2 teaspoons fresh, minced
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped
1 cup long grain rice
2 cups water or stock
1/8 teaspoon salt optional
1 pound black beans, rinsed and drained

Heat oil in a heavy saucepan over medium high heat. Sauté onion and garlic 3-4 minutes or until onion is softened. Stir in next 4 ingredients and mix thoroughly. Cover saucepan and simmer 3 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients, except beans. Add pepper to taste and return to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Add beans without stirring. Cover and simmer another 5-10 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. Let stand 5 minutes before stirring.

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