Years ago, the church I was attending, participated in an organized system of helping El Salvadoran refugees get to Canada to escape a brutal civil war occurring in their country. Our government’s position was if they were caught in the U.S. they would be deported. So some churches created and cooperated to form the “Overground Railroad”.
As a member of the hospitality committee, I was asked to feed visiting guests from time to time. When the church decided to participate in the “Overground Railroad”, the decision was made to send them to Denise’s house for her Rice and Beans.
I never had such a fulfilling experience of hosting guests as I did feeding those men coming through our country in secret to get to Canada. When they came to my house and smelled familiar aromas of food cooked with sofrito*, big pots of rice and beans with fried plantain and white fish in sofrito and tomato sauce, some of them got teary-eyed.
I recently cooked rice and beans with white fish in a sofrito* and tomato sauce and it brought back the memory of feeding those brothers from El Salvador. Following are the recipes.
Red beans and Rice
My favorite go to recipe to dress up a common pot of red or kidney beans adds fried sweet plantain and briny olives to give a pleasurable contrast in each bite. The plantain and olives are optional.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup sofrito*
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 2 15.5 oz. cans kidney beans (or bean of your choice)
- 1 ripe (yellow) plantain
- ½ cup olives
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce or more to taste
- salt and black pepper to taste
- Heat the oil in a large pot. Saute the sofrito* in the olive oil for 2 minutes.
- Add the tomato sauce and simmer for 3 or 4 minutes.
- Add canned beans, Worcestershire sauce, and hot pepper sauce.
- Turn down flame and let simmer about 5 minutes
- While beans are simmering slice the ripe plantain and fry until golden. Cut into cubes and add to beans.
- Add olives
- Simmer another 10 minutes to allow flavors to blend. Stir occasionally. You may need to add a little water if beans and sauce look too thick.
Serve with your favorite rice.
* Click the following link for Sofrito* Recipe:
White Fish in Sofrito* and Tomato Sauce
- 4 White fish fillets
- 1 Large yellow onion
- 1/4 C. Sofrito*
- 8 oz. can tomato sauce
- 1/4 C. flour
- 1/4 C. Oil
- Pinch of red pepper flakes (or more if you like more heat)
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Sprinkle salt and pepper on fish fillets.
- lightly dust fish with flour.
- Fry fish in oil just until browned on each side.
- Set aside on paper towel.
- Thinly slice onion and saute in oil left in frying pan until translucent.
- Add sofrito*and simmer 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add tomato sauce and red pepper flakes, simmer for 5 minutes more.
- Place fish fillets in sauce and simmer 15 minutes to finish cooking fish.
- Serve over white rice.