Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Hugo's Cuban Bowl

Inspired by a delicious meal I had while honeymooning in Tampa, Florida, this dish captures the flavors of Cuban cuisine. Hugo's Spanish Restaurant is famous for their Cuban sandwiches, made on scrumptious Cuban bread. I concocted this dish to satisfy my craving for Hugo's beans and rice, which I like to eat with a side of plantanos. It's super-simple, and you can use canned black beans to make it even simpler, or add yellow rice to jazz it up more!

Makes one generous serving (= standard soup/cereal bowl)

1 1/2 cup black beans (rinsed, sorted, and soaked)
OR: 1 can black beans (there's about 1 3/4 cup in a can, but no big deal)
1 clove garlic, or to taste
1 oz. Monterey Jack, Colby Jack, or Colby cheese (shredded)
1 avocado (halved, pitted and peeled)
1 banana (sliced)
1/2 tbsp. butter
lime juice

1/4 cup minced onion or scallions
red pepper flakes or your favorite hot sauce
red wine vinegar
sour cream

1a. If preparing your beans from scratch, follow the cooking directions on the bag, cooking the beans until tender. Drain and put them in a small saucepan over medium heat.
1b. If you're using canned beans, drain them and put them in a small saucepan over low-medium heat.
2. Use a garlic press to press the clove of garlic into the beans, stirring well. Or you can mince the garlic up and mix it in. Heat the beans and garlic together, stirring occasionally, until beans are hot (about 10 minutes).
3. While the beans are cooking, melt the butter in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Place the banana slices in the butter, flat sides down. Turn them after about 3 minutes and cook the other sides.
4. When the beans are done, pour them into a bowl. Top with the cheese. Slice the avocado, pile it at one side of the bowl, and sprinkle it with lime juice and salt. Pile the banana slices at the other side of the bowl. Dress it up with the "Extras!" and/or your favorite Spanish condiments. Toast some Cuban bread, butter it lightly (or not), and enjoy with the beans.

I like this with less cheese, garnished with red wine vinegar and occasional dollops of hot sauce (Sriracha -- known as "chicken sauce" at our house -- is my very favorite). If you don't have Cuban bread (it's hard to find), your favorite French or crusty sourdough bread will be great. Add! Omit! Improvise! Just don't forget the ice-cold limeade and beer!

When in Tampa, visit:
Hugo's Spanish Restaurant
931 S Howard Ave
Tampa, FL 33606-2418


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