Don't let the long ingredients list turn you off of this recipe. The ingredients are really quite simple -- beef, rice, beans, cheese, aromatic vegetable and spices -- and the best part is everything cooks together in one pan.
One-pan recipes that can be on the table in about an hour are my favorite kind of winter recipes, and this one, adapted from Tieghan Gerard's "Half Baked Harvest Every Day: Recipes for Balanced, Flexible, Feel-Good Meals," is excellent.
I made a few simple changes to the ingredients (as noted in the recipe) and altered the cooking process slightly, but at its core, it is still Gerard's recipe. The result is a hearty, flavorful one-pan meal that everyone at my table enjoyed. This one is definitely going in my keeper file.
Cheesy beef, bean and rice skillet
2 tablespoons oil (I used sunflower oil; Gerard uses olive oil)
1 yellow onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced (Gerard uses a green bell pepper)
1 pound ground beef
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 teaspoons oregano (I used Mexican oregano, but "regular" Mediterranean oregano is fine)
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground allspice (I omitted this)
½ to 1 teaspoon ground red (cayenne) pepper (I used about ¾ teaspoon)
¼ to ½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup long-grain white rice
¼ cup tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 (15- to 16-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained (Gerard uses black beans)
2 limes, divided use
8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (Gerard uses Swiss or low-moisture mozzarella)
1 avocado, for serving
Fresh herbs such as oregano, cilantro and/or watercress, for serving (I used oregano from my herb garden)
In a large oven-safe skillet (I used a 10 ½-inch cast-iron skillet) heat the oil over medium high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to soften. Add the ground beef and cook, breaking it into crumbles, until the beef is no longer pink and the pepper and onion are tender. Add the garlic, oregano, cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Push the mixture to one side of the skillet. To the now-empty side add the rice. Cook, stirring to coat the rice in the pan drippings, but keeping it separate from the beef mixture, for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir everything together. Cook 1 minute. Add the bay leaf and 2 cups water and stir well. Bring to a boil, and reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 425 degrees. Cut 1 of the limes into wedges; halve, pit and slice the avocado and pull the herb leaves from the stems. Set aside.
Remove the skillet from the heat. Discard the bay leaf. Stir in the beans. Zest the remaining lime directly into the skillet and then cut it in half and squeeze in the juice from both halves. Stir well. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top and transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 10 minutes.
Serve topped with sliced avocado and herbs with reserved lime wedges for squeezing on the side.
Makes about six servings.