Whilst summer is supposed to be all BBQ's, ice lollies and crunchy salads, the weather in Paris recently has been awful. The rain is almost tropical and I have been wearing black jeans for far too long. Not only do I not know what to put on in the morning, I have been struggling to know what to cook. So last weekend when it was cold and grey I made a big pot of steaming chilli, curled up and ate it with brown rice and sautéed coriander spinach, and then booked a naughty little train ticket to a visit a friend for some sunshine in the South this weekend...
*** Obviously the sun has now come out and it is lovely here, just as I post a recipe for something really warm and comforting...
These little bowls of goodness are one of my favourite dinners at the moment – the chilli can be made in big batches and frozen so that you always have a quick and healthy meal to hand and spinach is such a versatile vegetable that I always have a big bag kicking around. I love how you can blend it into anything from smoothies to pancakes and without changing the flavor at all it gives you a big boost of vitamins and iron.
Brown rice is one of my store cupboard staples – cheap to buy and easy to cook, it ends up being the base of many of my meals. It is important to eat brown rice since the hull (which has been removed from white rice) contains all the proteins and minerals. It may take a little longer to cook, but it is definitely worth the wait for all the extra benefits – feeling fuller for longer, no extreme effects on blood sugar levels and lots of extra fibre.
Cumin is the star of the bean chilli – it spices up the sauce which is naturally on the sweet side from the roasted red onion and gives it a delicious warmth and exotic flavour. Spices have been used medicinally for a very long time and cumin is a real winner. It’s a great digestive aid and can therefore have a very calming effect on your stomach, can relieve stress and promote sleep, clear congested airways and help strengthen your immune system against unwanted bugs.
1 red onion
4 cloves of garlic
Pinch of sea salt
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp cumin
0.5 tsp paprika
2 tbsp olive oil
1.5 cups of dried chickpeas (soaked overnight)
1.5 cups of dried kidney beans (soaked overnight)
2 cups of brown rice (soaked overnight)
4 big handfuls of spinach
Small bunch of coriander
Yoghurt/soy yoghurt with some chopped coriander stirred in (optional)
Pre-heat the oven to 200°C. Half the tomatoes, peel the onion and slice it into wedges and peel the garlic then toss all of this with the salt, thyme and olive oil in a baking tray and cook for 45-60 minutes until cooked thoroughly (they may need mixing from time to time to make sure they cook evenly).
Whilst the tomatoes are cooking, bring a pan of water to the boil then add the chickpeas and kidney beans and cook for 45-60 minutes. Cooking time will depend on whether you soaked them or not. You will need another pan of water for the rice, but that should take less time, mine usually takes 40 minutes.
Once everything is nearly ready, sautée some spinach (just until it has wilted) in a drizzle of olive oil and with lots of chopped fresh coriander.
When everything is ready, blend the tomatoes, onion, garlic and spices until almost smooth – personally I prefer it a little bit chunky – then drain the beans and stir them into the sauce.
Drain the rice and serve it with the sautéed coriander spinach and lots of hot bean chilli.