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If you are a regular reader of this blog, you may remember that I mentioned that I would be creating an adaptation of the Forks Over Knives recipe for Mexican Style Rice and Bean Casserole.
I have to admit that after making the cookbook’s version, I was looking for something with a little more oomph! What was needed, in my opinion, was higher concentrations of flavor.

It is challenging to put together whole food, plant-based recipes that contain little to no oil, sugar or cheese and that are also satiating and appeal to the masses.
How often have you looked at a “healthy food” website, magazine or cookbook to see recipes containing all or some of those (above) ingredients?
I didn’t end up forty-five pounds overweight eating nutritionally dense foods. There was a time when all three (oil, sugar and cheese) made their way into my daily life. Ideally, these ingredients should be kept to a minimum.

My recipe closely resembles the Fork’s version. It contains ingredients that work well together, are flavor intensive and provide the body with nutrients needed for optimal health.
After a series of misses, I was thrilled that this dish turned out to be one of the best I’ve made in some time.

At first glance, you may think this dish is labor intensive but many of these steps can be performed ahead of time.  The cheese sauce, rice and beans can be prepared one day prior to putting the dish together. On the day of, prep the remaining ingredients before beginning the cooking process.


Serves 8-10

1 medium onion, diced
1 bunch scallions, diced
2 red peppers, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
4 medium tomatoes, diced
1 1/2 tbsp whole cumin, toasted and ground (use 1 tbsp after grinding)
1/2-1 tsp extra hot chili powder (I used 1 tsp because I am a chick that likes a kick)
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 cup dry black beans
2 cups corn, fresh or frozen
1 tomato, diced
broccoli, optional
cashew cheese sauce (see below)
1 tsp sea salt

Cashew Cheese Sauce:
1 cup raw whole cashews, soaked overnight and toasted
1 onion diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp white pepper
1 cup almond milk

Individually soak beans and cashews overnight.
Cook beans on medium heat until tender.
Toast cashews in oven at 350º for about 10 minutes until brown. Keep a careful eye on the browning process as these can quickly overcook. Combine toasted cashews and remaining cheese sauce ingredients in vitamix or blender. Set aside.
Cook 1 cup of dry rice to 2 cups of water according to instructions on package. Set aside.
To toast cumin, preheat dry skillet on medium heat. Once pan is heated, add cumin seeds and stir constantly for a 1-2 minutes. The seeds will become fragrant, pop and begin to turn brown.  Remove from heat. Add seeds to a coffee grinder and mix. I toast more cumin than needed in this recipe in order to have enough volume to grind the seeds to a powder. The extra cumin can be saved for other dishes.
In a large sauce pan, cook onions and red pepper for five minutes on medium heat. Add water if necessary to keep ingredients from burning.
Add garlic and (4) tomatoes and cook on medium-low heat for another 5 minutes.
Stir in cumin and extra hot chili powder (bought at a Patel Brother’s grocery store).  Add the chili powder in small increments and taste as you go. This spice adds a powerful heat that does not dissipate as it cooks. What you add is what you get from start to finish!
Remove from heat and add rice, beans, corn, (1) tomato, broccoli and cheese sauce.
Add sea salt.
Pour into a casserole dish and bake at 350º for 30 – 40 minutes or until top begins to brown.

Have you watched the Forks Over Knives Documentary?  Please leave a comment…