This vegetarian version of a classic southern dish omits the traditional ham hock and replaces it with lots of bright Southwestern flavour.

Yield: Serves 4 - 6


for the beans:
1 pound dried red beans, soaked overnight in lots of water
a splash any vegetable oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, finely minced
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
4 cups water
a sprinkle or two sea salt and freshly ground pepper
4 fresh or canned tomatoes
4 green onions, sliced
a handful or two chopped cilantro

for the rice:
2 tablespoons Butter
1 onion, minced
2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup brown rice
2 cups water
a sprinkle or two sea salt and freshly ground pepper


Strain the beans out of their soaking water and give them a good rinse. No nutrients are lost in this process; instead, the beans rehydrate, which will speed up their cooking time.

Make the beans first because they take longer than the rice. Splash the oil into a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid and set over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery, bell peppers, garlic, chili powder, cumin and oregano and sauté for a few minutes until everything is heated through and your kitchen smells wonderful. Add the red beans, water and salt and pepper and bring everything to a simmer. Reduce the heat and continue simmering, covered, until the beans are tender, about 30 to 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the rice. Melt the butter in another small saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for a few minutes until they just begin to turn golden brown. Add the rice and continue cooking for a few minutes longer, stirring constantly. This is known as the pilaf method, and it helps ensure that each finished rice grain will be tender and distinct.

Add the water and bring it to a simmer. Season the works, cover and cook over low heat until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 45 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes or so before serving.

Finish the beans by stirring in the tomatoes, green onions and cilantro. Serve over the rice.


Feel free to use your favourite chili peppers to season this dish. You can use dried red kidney, red pinto, other red beans and even black beans.