GINNA PARSONS: Minty cookies just in time for holidays


I’ve been more mindful this week about the different foods I put into my body. There are just too many magazine articles/cookbooks/newsaper stories about the evils of processed foods to ignore.

My husband, Charlie, and I were talking the other day about trying to follow a Mediterranean-style of eating. The “Mediterranean diet” has different meanings for different people, but I take it to mean olive oil as a primary fat source; a high intake of fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds; fish twice a week; moderate consumption of poultry and dairy, including my beloved cheese; eggs two or three times a week; little consumption of red meat; and wine with dinner, if desired.

Bread, potatoes, rice and pasta are also allowed, but those are trigger foods for us, so they are best limited as well. Fortunately for us, sweets are not a big temptation, so staying away from processed sugar isn’t likely to be a problem.

I went poking around the Internet on Monday, looking for new and interesting ways to ramp up dinner. Specifically, I was looking for some non-meat alternatives to the evening meal. And I found just what I was looking for.

This skillet dish combines lots of good things: zucchini, black beans, tomatoes, brown rice and just a dusting of cheese. The original recipe called for white rice and no seasonings, but too many reviewers said it was bland and recommended onion, garlic and some spices, so that’s what I went with.

This makes an easy weeknight meal, that’s both good and good for you. And, as a bonus, it’s meatless!

Zucchini, Black Bean and Rice Skillet

1 tablespoon olive oil

11⁄2 cups chopped zucchini

1⁄2 cup diced green bell pepper

1⁄2 cup chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained

1 teaspoon cumin

1⁄2 teaspoon chili powder

1⁄8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 cups hot cooked brown rice

Salt and pepper

1⁄2 cup shredded Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese blend

Heat oil in large oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Add zucchini, bell pepper and onion; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add beans, undrained tomatoes and seasonings and cooked until heated through. Add rice and stir well to incorporate. Adjust seasonings. Sprinkle with cheese and run under the broiler to melt the cheese.

Serves 4.

Ginna Parsons is the Daily Journal’s food/home/garden editor.

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