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Caribbean Coconut Rice and Beans (Coconut Rice with Peas)

One of my favourite ways to make things interesting in the kitchen is to glean loved and delicious recipes from my daily encounters.

One of my first employment opportunities, as a teenager, was working as a cashier in a grocery store in a budding multi-cultural neighbourhood in the very early 2000’s.

To pass the time, as I weighed and typed in the shopper’s produce codes, I would sometimes wonder aloud, asking the shopper what fun upcoming meals they were planning to make with the produce I was learning about for the first time.

Through my time at the grocery store, I learned details about vegetable crops that originated from East Asia (China, Japan, and Korea) and Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Laos, the Philippines, Thai- land, Indonesia, and Myanmar) I was even taught by sharing customers how to clean Bok Choy properly and how to tell the difference between certain green herbs — that all looked the same to a seventeen year old. 🙃

One sweet customer delighted me when she went as far as writing down a family recipe on the back of her grocery receipt in small blue scribble and handed it to me –like she was sharing a secret.

Enter: Caribbean Cocunut Rice and Beans!!

I tried and loved her recipe through the years.

First, because it’s both parts delicious and easy, but also because, at our house, we love eating rice multiple nights a week.

To keep rice interesting, Caribbean Coconut Rice and Beans is perfect for our weekly meal rotation.

This version of rice is cooked with fragrant coconut milk, armoatic herbs and Scotch bonnet chillies for a smack of heat.

The cocunut milk gives the rice a creamy and light sweet flavour which helps even out the whole tone of the dish.

If you’re not sure what Scotch bonnet chillies are they are small, stouter shaped pepper native to the Caribbean and they can be incredibly spicy. They come in many different colours like peach, green and red and can be noticed by their four distinctive ridges on the bottom of the pepper.

Fun fact? They have been said to have fifty times the amount of spice as a jalapeño!

But no need to sweat, I have paired down the chili peppers in this family friendly dish to accomodate young and more sensitive palates.

Personally, I buy scotch peppers a few times a year, knowing full well that we won’t be cooking with them all at once. Instead, I freeze them in a freezer-safe-ziplock bag and have them accessible for last minute recipes. (They taste amazing roasted!)

Here’s how to make Caribbean Coconut Rice and Beans:

INGREDIENTS:

• ½ teaspoon unsalted butter

• 2 green onion stalks, chopped

• 1 garlic clove, minced

• 1 cup of white rice of your choice

• 1 bay leaf

• ½ teaspoon of thyme

• ½ teaspoon of ground black pepper

• 1 cup of water

• ½ cup of coconut milk (canned)

• ½ cup of cooked red beans (kidney beans or pigeon peas)

• ½ teaspoon of salt

• 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon (optional)

RECIPE:

  • Rinse your rice and beans
  • Add rice and water, butter, your canned drained beans and simmer, covered, on medium heat.
  • Add spices and the scotch bonnet
  • Cover your pan with aluminum foil so no air escapes and replace the lid of your pan.
  • Continue cooking until the rice is tender.
  • Remove the bay leaf
  • Add coconut milk and cinnamon
  • Let the rice stand for ten minutes covered.
  • Season with salt to taste.

This side goes perfectly with any type of poultry dish, but BBQ jerk infused chicken with it’s sticky sauce is delicous when partnered together.

What would you pair with this delicious Caribbean Coconut rice? Have you ever tried a similar recipe? Do you refer to this recipe as “Rice and peas” OR “rice and beans”?? I’d love to know!

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