Monday, January 24, 2011

Vegetarian Cubana

Two weeks ago, my husband and I went out to dinner to celebrate with some friends; their engagement and our pregnancy. Since they live in Daytona, we decided to meet in St. Augustine for dinner. My husband was born and raised in St. Augustine, and knows the restaurants well, so we had a hard time deciding where to go. We finally settled on The Columbia. We had an absolutely delicious meal, and I am hoping we can make it back there again soon! They specialize in Spanish, Cuban, and Mexican food, and since we're in Florida, the seafood is top notch. We each ordered something different: the paella, ropa vieja, mariscos diablo (spicy pasta dish with the entire ocean of seafood), and the vegetarian cubana.

The Vegetarian Cubana was simply listed as yucca, black beans, rice, plantains and sauteed fresh vegetables. It wasn't as intriguing as the other vegetarian dishes, but it had all of my favorite ingredients, and I knew The Columbia would put their twist on it. The meal was a bed of soft white rice topped with simply seasoned, tender black beans, two tostones, two maduros, a piece of steamed yucca topped with a spicy tomato relish, sauteed snap peas with strips of bell pepper, and the dish was sprinkled with diced raw onion. Though each element wasn't very complex, when it was all together it made a complete, delicious meal. Each individual component was perfectly cooked, perfectly seasoned, and complimentary of one another. 

I couldn't get the meal out of my head since we left the restaurant, and knew I'd have to recreate it at home. After all, it costs only pennies to make (but wasn't too expensive at $16.95 in the upscale-restaurant). While I loved the yucca and two kinds of plantains, I decided to skip them this time to make this meal weeknight-friendly with less cooking time and preparation. A few other options are to make your rice ahead of time (I prefer brown rice, which takes 30 minutes to cook, sometimes I make a big batch on the weekends) and to use your slow cooker to make beans (dried beans are cheaper and cans don't contain BPA, organic is easily available as well!). 

While scouring recipes for tostones and maduros, I found there were no baked versions, but I was determined to not fry them. If you'd like to see authentic fried tostones, I've made them here. Instead I opted for Maduros made in the oven in a foil packet, they still caramelized and were tender and sweet with a crisp coating, very similar to the fried version and my new go-to for plantains! I hope you try this meal out and enjoy it, it's simple but fancy-looking and absolutely delicious!

 Vegetarian Cubana
black beans, rice, roasted maduros, vegetable saute'   

2/3 c. brown rice blend
1 1/3 c. water or vegetable stock

2 c. black beans (or 1 15 oz. can drained)
1/2 c. water or vegetable stock
2 garlic cloves
1 bay leaf

2 very ripe plantains
1 tbsp. EVOO
1 tsp. turbinado sugar

2 c. sugar snap peas
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced in thin strips
1 tsp. EVOO
1 tsp. adobo seasoning or chili powder
Salt and pepper

Diced raw onion, if desired

Preheat oven to 425*

In a small stock pot, bring water to a boil, add rice and turn to simmer.
Cook covered for 30 minutes, or how long package directs.

In another small stock pot, bring beans, water, garlic, bay and salt to a boil.
Turn to low and simmer uncovered while rice cooks.

Place a piece of foil on a sheet pan. 
Peel plantains and cut 1" rounds on a bias.
Place on half the foil, drizzle with EVOO and sugar, toss to coat.
Bring the other half of the foil over and pinch closed, making a packet.
Place in the oven, bake for 15 minutes, open, flip and close, baking for another 10 minutes.

Heat a saute' pan over medium heat, add EVOO, snap peas, peppers and adobo.
Toss and cook for 5-7 minutes, until vegetables are just softened. 

Plate rice, top with black beans, arrange plantains and snap peas on the side and sprinkle the dish with raw onion. 


Tasha said...

The Columbia is probably my husband's favorite restaurant! We have one in our town (and live only an hour always from the original), yet we don't get there very often. If I made this for him, he would be very happy!

LauraJayne said...

I've been trying to think of something new to make for dinner tonight - and this looks perfect! I can't wait to try it!

Devon (Run Sleep Rinse Repeat) said...

Love The Columbia! The in-laws love to take us there too :)

Joanne said...

I've baked sweet plantains before and they come out beautifully! This meal is filled with some of my very favorite components! Mmm it would make me so happy to eat it.