How to Cook: Mediterranean Mix

One day, I wanted to make something special for my Dad for breakfast. I asked him that if he could have food from any country or region in the world, what would it be? I would look it up and try to make it work whatever it was. He half jokingly said "Mediterranean", just to name a random place. So, I looked into some spices and ingredients we had on hand, and came up with this recipe! It may not be "true Mediterranean food", but it was my best shot at it with things that most people have in their house. Even if it's not as authentic as you may want, I can guarantee that it is delicious! I was trying to make it just that one day as a treat, but I ended up writing it down and making it several times afterwards! On to the deliciousness!

Yields 4-6 Servings

(You can either used canned beans or cook them yourself, I'll put both versions in the recipe.)

You will need:

- 1 Deep Frying Pan with Lid
- Wooden Spoon to stir
- Serving bowl

If you are cooking the beans (from dry beans):

- 1 Large Pot with a lid
- Large Sealing Container


To Cook Black Beans (if you want to)

- Dry Black Beans (You can make the 1/2 cup, or make it in bulk since it takes a while)
- Water
- Salt to Taste (at least 1 Tablespoon)

Mediterranean Mix

- Olive Oil
- 1/2 Cup Whole Black Beans
- 1/2 Cup Rice
- 1/2 Tomato
- 2 Fists Full Spinach
- 4-5 Artichoke Hearts (canned)
- 1/2 Inch Jalapeno (More if you like things spicier)
- 1 Celery Stalk
- 1/4 Cup Onion
- 1/4 Teaspoon Red Pepper
- 1 Teaspoon Paprika
- Salt and Pepper
- Cinnamon (a pinch)
- 2 Teaspoons Beef Bullion (Or 1 1/2- 2 Cups Beef stock instead of water and bullion)
- 2 Cups Water
- 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
- 1 Tablespoon Garlic (Grated or Juice)

Protein Topping

- 1 Serving meat of your choice (Shrimp, Fish, Steak, Chicken, Vegetables, etc.) Fresh or left-over.
- Salt and Pepper
- Paprika
- Olive Oil
- 1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice

Additional Toppings 

- Greek Yogurt or Sour Cream to Top
- Flour Tortillas, I prefer the small kind for this.

For breakfast I like to add a Fried Egg and Hollandaise Sauce (The recipe can be found Here, but I would suggest using more lemon and butter and making it thinner for this), kind of like Eggs Benedict.

How to cook black beans from scratch!

This is a two day process pretty much, for the best results, so you don't want to put off cooking beans if you plan to use them soon. This was my first time making them, and I am happy to report that they came out really well!

Rinse and sort out the beans, making sure that you don't put any in that are too broken or don't look tasty, and that you rinse off any dust, etc, that may be on them. Place them in a large sealable container, and add twice the amount of water as there are beans. Place in the fridge overnight, or for 10 plus hours. The next day, rinse the beans off and put them in a large pot with fresh water. Once again, you want twice as much water as beans. Add the salt, and let it simmer on low heat for 2-5 hours, until tender. After that you can place them in a container to use whenever you want! The process is easy, it just takes time.

Onto the recipe itself!

Add about 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil to the frying pan on Medium-Low heat, and rinse the rice. Add the rice to the pan and stir every now and then, this is to slightly toast the rice.

Next, mince the Onion and finely mince or press the Garlic. I used pre-minced garlic, so you can use either. You want to make the pieces pretty small, pictured below.

Add the Garlic and Onion to the Rice, and continue to toast them until the rice starts to turn a light brown color, but don't wait too long or it can burn. 

Add the Beef Stock to the rice, either with the bullion and water or a pre-made stock, Black Beans, Spices, and Lemon Juice. 

Cover the pan and let it simmer on Medium-Low heat for about 10 Minutes, or until the Rice has absorbed most of the water and puffed up.

While you wait for the Rice to cook, start cutting up the remaining vegetables. Mince the Jalapeno into very small pieces, and set those aside. The Tomato, Artichoke Hearts, and Celery (or any vegetables you want to add to the mix, if you like) should be cut into 1/2 Inch (1 Centimeter) pieces. 

Once the Rice Mixture is ready, add the remaining vegetables. This is why you want a deep pan, otherwise things can get pretty messy. 

Stir in the vegetables and continue to cook and stir the mix until the vegetables are cooked, about 5 minutes. 

You can either multitask for this next part, or put the mix in a bowl (covered) while you cook the rest of the ingredients. Add the Lemon Juice, Spices, Olive Oil, and your choice of meat of vegetables into a frying pan and cook them until they are at your preferred "done-ness". You can also just reheat left-overs with the same ingredients if you would like. I used Shrimp, because it's my favorite meat. 

Now all that's left is to assemble your meal however you like and it's done!

The Artichoke and Lemon add tartness to it, which balances out the richness of the beans and tomatoes, giving it a really rounded out and tropical kind of flavor. I like two different ways, for Breakfast or Lunch. You can make "Tacos" topped with Sour Cream/Greek Yogurt, like the pictures below and above! (Make sure to warm the tortillas before adding the rest, either in the microwave with a paper towel around them, or on the stove top.)

Or you can make a kind of breakfast stack with Hollandaise on top (Which I linked to in the Ingredients list), and the meat on the side, as pictured below!

I have to say that if you make it for Breakfast or Lunch, use fresh beans or canned, or add meat or not, it's going to be delicious! I made this as an experiment at first, but decided to make it more often after that because I thought I stumbled on something great! With Winter coming, this kind of bright dish is prefect to brighten up and warm up your day, especially if you add more peppers to it! I hope that you enjoy it as much as I do!

Enjoying the noms of their labor,

P.S. I am happy to report that I am back home, hopefully for a while, which means I shouldn't be as flaky when it comes to posting anymore!