This is a great make-ahead side dish for grilling season (or any season, for that matter). It’s also good for those nights when you completely forget to buy food for dinner. The clock strikes five and you realize you have no chicken, no beef, no pig products and no interest in going to the market at rush hour, but you do have a few cans in the pantry. (My “pantry” is my a shelf in my garage, where I keep some earthquake supplies stashed between the Christmas ornaments and the ice cream machine that I may or may not ever use.) So you go to the pantry and retrieve some canned beans and tomatoes and if you’re at least with it enough to have an onion lying around, you’re good to go. Whip up some Mama Beans and rice, throw on some grated cheddar, and voila! You’ve got a dinner.
This last minute scramble happens often enough at my house that the kids named the dish after me.
I like to add some jalapeno if I’ve got it, and a little zucchini, chopped small so my children won’t suspect the presence of a green vegetable. Serve it with rice, or even better (according to the kids), with riso pasta, which I always have on hand, even though my pantry is a little dubious.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
2 cloves garlic, minced
One 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes with their juice
1 medium zucchini, cut into ¼-inch dice
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 15-ounce cans pinto beans, rinsed
1 cup grated cheddar or cheese
1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook it until it’s soft and translucent, about ten minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one minute.
2. Add the tomatoes, zucchini, oregano, salt and pepper and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook it until the zucchini is tender, about three minutes. Add the beans and simmer for five more minutes. Serve the beans with cheese sprinkled on top.