Create: Hearty Adzuki Bean Rice Pilaf

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Not the traditional rice and bean dish, instead a hearty bowl of rice pilaf and sweet adzuki beans with scallions and mushrooms, sweetened with yellow raisins. Because adzuki beans have hint of a nutty flavor, the dish is made even better with a drizzle of toasted sesame oil prior to serving.

Adzuki Bean Rice Pilaf
(Serves 2)

Ingredients:

1 cup dried adzuki beans
1/2 package Near East Rice Pilaf Mix
1 cup vegetable stock
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup light soy sauce
bay leaf
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
sea salt
fresh ground pepper
2 cups chopped scallions
1/2 cup golden yellow raisins
1 teaspoon toasted black sesame seeds

Directions:

Rinse the beans under cold running water and soak overnight in a bowl covered in several inches of cold water. Next day, drain and rinse the soaked beans and add to a medium saucepan. Cover the beans with several inches of fresh cold water and 1 tablespoon sesame oil, cook with a bay leaf, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 45 – 50 minutes or until the beans are tender. Drain, discard bay leaf, and set aside to cool.

Next, prepare Near East rice according to package directions (for more flavor use vegetable stock instead of water and a bay leaf). Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil and minced garlic over medium heat. Cook scallions and mushrooms in the garlic for about 5 minutes, and reduce heat to a simmer. Add the beans and fluffed rice to the skillet. Slowly drizzle in the soy sauce and white wine vinegar and cook mixture for about 15 to 20 minutes. In the last 5 minutes of cooking, add the yellow raisins and sprinkle with cayenne, fresh ground pepper and sea salt. In a large glass bowl, toss gently and drizzle with the rest of the sesame oil. Garnish with lightly toasted sesame seeds, optional. Serve. Enjoy!

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