Part bean and rice bowl and part (guiltless) mac and cheese make for a quick and healthful dinner when paired with last week’s vegan cheese sauce.I’d been meaning to make and photograph last week’s vegan cheese sauce for a while now. As it always does when I’m making and photographing food, time got away from me and shortly before I was supposed to head out the door for my afternoon shift I realized I hadn’t prepared a meal to take with me. Since the cheese sauce makes enough for several meals, I figured I might as well incorporate in into my dinner that night. Not having a lot of time left on the clock, I decided to toss some black bean pasta in a pot of boiling water. Now, mac and cheese is not my usual go-to meal, mostly because when I think of mac and cheese the two words that pop into my head are starch and fat. Neither of which I especially like, and definitely not in August – aka the height of bikini season. And let’s be honest, it’s far enough into bikini season that the “summer’s coming, time to get into shape!” craze that hits when the first spring tulip pops it’s head through the snow has slowly been replaced by actually enjoying all the food at the pizza parties by the pool and summer barbecues. Plus, I don’t know about where you live but here in Texas it’s just been too damn hot to exercise. I mean seriously, it’s like living on the sun! So, the point is, I don’t want to be eating starchy, fat-laden mac and cheese right now. Well, that’s the great thing about this mac and cheese, the mac is 100% black beans and the cheese is made with nuts and veggies, whoop-whoop!While the pasta was bubbling away on the stove, I looked to see what else I could use to build my mac and cheese bowl and found a bag of leftover brown rice in the fridge. At first pasta and rice seemed like an strange combination but, remembering the pasta is 100% black beans, it is actually just like a bean and rice bowl (and if you’re around my age you probably remember from this Saturday morning cartoon how well beans and rice go together!). Having grown up in New Mexico, squash seems like a natural fit with beans and rice, so I threw a couple summer squash on the grill and this bowl was born.The black bean pasta I used is Tolerant Black Bean Penne (Not sponsored, I just happened to have it on hand). If you don’t have any bean pasta laying around feel free to substitute with real beans. My pick would be black or pinto but really, almost any variety will work.
After I put this bowl together, I decided I needed to kick up the flavor a notch so I topped it off with my favorite salsa. It would also be good with any of the additional toppings I’ve listed below like cilantro, pickled jalapenos or Sriracha.
Makes enough for 2 bowls.
2 medium zucchini or summer squash, washed and cut in half lengthwise
1 teaspoon grapeseed or other high-heat oil
2 cups cooked black bean pasta
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 cup vegan cheese sauce
Toppings of your choice – diced avocado, sliced green onion, cilantro, pickled jalapeno, salsa or Sriracha.
Cook the pasta and rice according to the package directions. If using canned beans in place of the pasta, drain and rinse them.
Coat the squash in the grapeseed oil and grill over a medium-high flame for about 3 minutes per side. Conversely, you can roast them in a 425 degree oven for about 15 minutes. You’ll want them slightly browned but still firm.
While the squash is cooking warm the cheese sauce on the stove or in the microwave, stirring often.
Once the squash are done, slice them up and place in a bowl with the rice and pasta. Drizzle with the cheese sauce and add the toppings of your choice.