Southern-Style Pinto Beans with Rice and Fried Eggplant

southern-style pinto beans with eggplant

Simmered in a rich, zesty and tangy spiced sun-dried tomato sauce seasoned with a little liquid hickory smoke, these pinto beans are so hearty and packed with rich barbecue flavor that even your most barbecue-crazy carnivorous friends won't miss the meat on the grill with this dish. They won't even miss the grill at all, as it's all done on the stove-top. They'll probably be amazed that it's not only vegetarian, but vegan too.

As if the beans aren't delicious enough by themselves, they're also topped with extraordinary eggplant slices tossed with a dry-rub spice and herb seasoning and fried in hot oil. Complete the experience by serving the beans and eggplant on a bed of hot freshly cooked brown rice for a thoroughly nourishing and tasty dinner that will have your family and friends asking for seconds. I made up about 1 1/2 cups dried rice that yielded about 4 cups cooked rice for the quantity of beans that this recipe gives.

This incredible beans and eggplant dish is adapted from a recipe in a book that I recently received called "The Southern Vegetarian" by Justin Fox Burks and Amy Lawrence. Not just a collection of meat-free adaptations of American Southern classics — a cuisine that most of us don't associate with vegetarian-friendly food — Burks and Lawrence use Southern ingredients and techniques to come up with dozens of truly unique and creative vegetarian recipes with a modern Southern flair. This is one of the most exciting cookbooks to cross my path for some time now, and I'm looking forward to trying ideas like strawberry-basil shortcake sliders, sweet potato pancakes with peaches and pecans, green pea hummus, vegetarian gumbo, curried cauliflower soup, peach and tarragon pesto pizza, and plenty more. I'm getting hungry just writing this!

Now without further ado, let's get cooking.

pinto beans, rice and eggplant

Southern-Style Pinto Beans with Rice and Fried EggplantSouthern-Style Pinto Beans with Rice and Fried Eggplant
Recipe by
Adapted from The Southern Vegetarian Cookbook
Cuisine: American South
Published on August 26, 2013

Preparation: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Hearty pinto beans simmered in a rich, tangy and spicy barbecue-style tomato sauce with hickory smoke flavoring

Print this recipePrint this recipe

  • 1 1/2 cups dried pinto or romano beans
  • 5 1/2 cups vegetable stock or water or more as needed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 3 fresh hot peppers jalapeƱo, cayenne or serrano), seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2/3 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon liquid hickory smoke, to taste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • sliced green onion for garnish (optional)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium eggplant, trimmed and cut into 1-inch thick slices
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2/3 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
  • pinch of paprika
  • pinch of cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • Rinse the beans and soak for 8 hours or overnight in several inches of water. Drain and rinse, then transfer to a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Pour in the stock or water and add the bay leaves and vinegars. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour or until the beans are tender. Add more water as needed — the beans should not be too dry.

  • Meanwhile, soak the sun-dried tomatoes in hot water for 20 to 30 minutes, then drain and chop.

  • Heat the butter or oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the onion and stir for 5 minutes or until softened and beginning to brown. Stir in the sun-dried tomatoes, celery, hot peppers, tomato and garlic, and continue to cook for another 5 minutes or until the vegetables have softened, stirring often. Now stir in the paprika, cumin, thyme, cayenne, mustard and liquid smoke, and to stir for 1 more minute.

  • Pour the vegetable and spice mixture into the cooked beans. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Add more water as needed. You don't want a soupy consistency, but there should be enough liquid to serve as a sauce. Season with sea salt and black pepper to taste.

  • To make the eggplant, combine 2 tablespoons of oil with thyme, basil, red pepper flakes, paprika, cayenne, salt and black pepper in a large bowl or plastic bag. Toss the eggplant slices with the seasoning to coat evenly. After removing the eggplant slices, use your fingers to gently rub in the seasonings.

  • Heat another 2 tablespoons of oil over high heat. When the oil starts to smoke, add the seasoned eggplant slices and cook until charred on each side — about 1 to 2 minutes per side. Remove from the pan, drain on kitchen towels, and repeat with the rest of the eggplant. Add more oil to the pan as necessary. (Note: The hot oil will splutter and pop out of the pan when the eggplant is added, so take care).

  • To serve, spoon some rice onto a serving plate, top with a generous portion of beans and finally lay a slice or two of the eggplant over top. Garnish with green onion slices if desired.

Makes 6 servings
southern_style beans with eggplant

More pinto beans recipes you are sure to enjoy from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Refried Beans with Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Pinto Bean and Avocado Burritos
Corn and Pinto Bean Dip
Pinto Bean and Zucchini Hummus


Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

I was just given an eggplant from a friends garden and am intrigued by your recipe.

Lisa Turner said...

It's quite lovely Val. I've come up with a few interesting ideas for eggplant over the past year or so. I never really used it prior to that.

janet @ the taste space said...

Oh yum. Totally bookmarking this, Lisa. :-)

Jacqueline Meldrum said...

Thanks Lisa, it looks great!

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