Cilantro Scented Rice Bowls

 As we were eating these Cilantro Scented Rice Bowls the other night I kept saying to Peter, "this is my favorite dinner ever."  By the third or fourth time, he was all, "OK, Annie.  I got it."  This is an easy, delicious dinner for a weeknight.  It takes 20 minutes to prepare (the amount of time it takes to make the rice).  It's easy to clean up.  It's inexpensive.  It's made with fresh, healthy ingredients.  It's the mexican food you crave but better!  You can tailor the ingredients to fit your own tastes, so consider the below a suggestion.  It can also easily be adapted for more people - just increase the amount of rice.

Annie's Cilantro Scented Rice Bowl (serves 2)

1 cup of basmati rice
1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
1 bunch scallions, finely sliced (optional - great if you have them on hand)
1 can goya beans (black or pinto) + goya flavor packet or chili powder or whatever seasoning you have on hand
1 tomato
1 ripe avocado
6 cloves of garlic (at least)
1-2 tablespoons butter
2 handfuls of shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 rotisserie chicken or grilled or poached chicken breast (optional - this is great as a vegetarian dish as well)
2 scoops sour cream

Rice: Add 1 tbsp butter and 2ish cloves of garlic forced through a garlic press to a warm pan.  After garlic becomes fragrant (but is still soft, not burned), add 1 cup basmati rice.  Add 1/4 tsp salt. Stir to coat in butter and allow the rice to 'toast' for a minute or so.  Add 1.5 cups water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce to a low simmer and cover for 15 minutes.  (Tip: If the pan is getting too hot and you notice that rice is burning on the bottom of the pan, turn off the heat and just let the rice steam.)

Beans: Add 1 tbsp butter (or less) and 2ish cloves of garlic forced through a garlic press to a warm pan.  After garlic becomes fragrant (but is still soft, not burned), add 1 can of goya beans (not drained).  Stir.  Add goya flavor packet.  (Tip: I didn't have one so I added a heavy dash of the chili powder blend I have from Dean & Deluca which is a mix of chili poweder, cumin and other spices.  Feel free to add whatever you think might be good.  If you don't have dry spices, the garlic will add plenty of flavor.)  Cook on low to medium heat until warm.

Turn your broiler on.  While the rice cooks:

Chop your cilantro & slice your scallions.  Make a quick salsa: finely chop your tomato and 1 clove of garlic.  Mix them together on your cutting board and add salt and a little of your cilantro or scallions.  Add a little tabasco if you want some heat.
Cut up your avocado (slice in half, remove pit, trace the outside of the flesh against the skin.  Slice the long way and then slice the short way.  Salt.  When you're ready you'll just dump your precut and seasoned avocado right out of the skin onto each rice bowl.  No mess!)

When the rice is finished cooking, stir in a couple of handfuls of chopped cilantro right into the pan.  Your boring rice will be flecked with beautiful green and will smell like garlic and cilantro (i.e., heaven).  Scoop a couple of spoonfuls into the bottom of your rice bowls.  Top with beans.  Top with chicken (if desired) Top with shredded cheddar cheese and place under the broiler until melted (your bowls will be hot so use an oven mitt and serve on a smaller plate so you can transfer the hot bowls to the table).  Add salsa, avocado and a scoop of sour cream.  Top with scallions.  Enjoy!!

This dish is super simple but the key is to make sure you season each ingredient well.  Feel free to add onions, scallions, jalepenos or anything else you might like into any layer of the dish.  You won't regret it!!