Moros y Cristianos - Moors and Christians - is an allusion that dates back to an era in Spain when black Muslims and white Christians lived peaceably together on the Iberian Peninsula. The Conquistadors brought rice to the new world where it was combined with native black beans, forming a dish that became a staple of the Cuban diet. I first sampled this in a cafe on Bergenline Avenue in Union City, New Jersey. The bodegas and cafes that line this street offer a bargain priced education in Cuban cooking to any who want it. I've played with this recipe over the years and have come up with a quick and easy version that is meatless and costs pennies to prepare. It's also kind to the waistline. It can be served as a main course or a side dish. I like to serve this with Ensalada Cubana, a salad that goes well with the rice and beans. I think you'll enjoy both recipes.
Moros y Christianos - Moors and Christians
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 large bell pepper, chopped (optional)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 (14.5-oz.) cans low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 cups long-grain rice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon coarsely cracked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
2 (15-oz.) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup chopped cilantro or parsley
Garnish: finely chopped bell pepper, etc. (optional)
1) Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute for 2 minutes. Add bell pepper and saute for 2 minutes more. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomato sauce, broth and vinegar. Add rice, cumin, oregano, black pepper, pepper flakes (if using), black beans and bay leaf. Mix well.
2) Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, cover pot and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Discard bay leaf. Stir in cilantro. Cover pot and let sit 15 minutes. Garnish as desired. Yield: 4 entree or 8 side servings.
Ensalada Cubana - Cuban Salad
1 small head iceberg lettuce, coarsely shredded
2 cups drained pineapple chunks
1 large avocado, peeled and sliced
1 small onion, sliced thin
1/4 cup red wine vinegar dressing
Salt and pepper, to taste
1) Place lettuce, pineapple, avocado and onion in a large bowl. Mix well.
2) Pour dressing over all; toss to coat ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Yield 4 to 6 servings.