Improvisation and compromise occasionally produce lovely results.
For a recipe with such a long name, Black Bean and Rice Cakes with Chipotle Remoulade and Roasted Corn Salsa (BBRCCRRCS) takes very little time to prepare, especially if you already have the remoulade made (see last week’s recipe). The inspiration came from a menu* I found online, but of course no recipe was included. So I improvised, and improvised some more.
The black bean and rice cakes were a little confounding. They don't hold together unless at least a portion is ground up in a food processor. Now, mushy black beans are not attractive. (Think Friskies, without the fishy smell.) Fortunately, I'm not afraid to compromise: half mushed, half whole, for a visually appealing cake that sort of comes together. (As most compromises do, with signs of cracks if stressed too much.)
With that sorted, something corny would be good on top, I decided, mainly because I’d been able to score some fresh corn at my local grocer. (Some of you may remember me complaining about how dear corn is here. With corn in season, I only paid a pound for two shucked ears, around $2.05.) (I have no idea why corn is sold shucked and wrapped in plastic on styrofoam trays, when it comes in a perfectly good package called a husk.)
Some cilantro (coriander) would have been nice in the salsa, but I didn’t have any. When you’re improvising, you don’t stop to mourn what you don’t have.
Next time, sadly, that will probably be fresh corn. Ah well. Improvisation never ends.
*Actually, that dish sounds completely different. I improvised the cilantro remoulade and spinach layer right out of it. Guess I'll try that next time!
Prep notes: If the rice is cooked ahead of time, the Black Bean and Rice Cakes take only a few minutes to prepare. The Roasted Corn Salsa takes the longest (about 25-30 minutes), so get the corn roasting before you start on the rest.
Black Bean and Rice Cakes
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 cup black beans, rinsed
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
1 teaspoon dried cilantro/coriander flakes (optional)
½ teaspoon salt
black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for sautéing.
Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl. Place half the mixture in a food processor. Whiz briefly, until mixture holds together. Combine the processed mixture with the unprocessed half. Shape into round patties.
Heat more olive oil in a non-stick frying pan. (Alternatively, use cooking spray to reduce the fat.) Sauté the rice cakes gently over medium-low heat until cooked through, about 3 minutes each side. (Try not to turn them more than once. They may crack, in which case just push them back together with a spatula. Or your hands. Did you remember to wash?)
Serve with Chipotle Remoulade and Corn Salsa.
2-3 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, plus a spoonful of the accompanying sauce
1 package (12 ounces) silken tofu
2 tablespoons soy milk
juice of 1 lime
a dash of salt
Place 2 or 3 chipotle peppers in the bowl of a small food processor. Whiz for a few seconds until they are chopped. (You may have to scrape the sides down.) Add the tofu and whiz for 2 minutes, until tofu is smooth and no longer grainy. Add the soymilk, lime juice and salt as you’re whizzing. (Note: Canned chipotles are not for the faint of heart. If you're heat averse, use 1 or 2 peppers. Or try it with a cup of chopped cilantro/coriander leaves for a much cooler version.)
Spoon onto plates and top with a Black Bean and Rice Cake and Corn Salsa.
Roasted Corn Salsa:
Kernels from 2 ears of corn
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil, in all
1 jalapeño or small green chile, minced
2 small shallots, minced
juice of one lime
Combine the kernels and garlic with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and spread out on a pan. Roast in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, stirring halfway through.
Place the kernels in a medium bowl. Stir in the shallots, jalapeño, lime juice and the remaining olive oil (or for a low fat version, leave it out).
Serve spooned on top of Black Bean and Rice Cakes.