Cuban Black Bean and Rice Salad

1 lb. black beans
2 cups white or brown rice
1 medium green pepper
1 large sweet onion
2 cloves garlic
olive oil
romaine leaves
lime juice (and/or orange juice)
jalapeño peppers, or red pepper flakes

Hard boiled eggs (4), chopped
fresh cilantro (l bunch) chopped
1 bunch scallions, chopped
2 avocados, mashed or diced
Cheddar, Monterey jack, or other cheese, grated
cherry tomatoes
black olives, pitted and sliced or chopped

Wash, pick, and soak beans in water overnight or about 8 hrs. Drain, add water to cover and cook until soft, about 45 minutes. While beans are cooking sauté onion, green pepper, and garlic in olive oil; when soft, add to beans as they cook. Season beans to taste with cumin (1/2 –2 tsp.), lime juice (1/2-1 tbsp.) and jalapeños. Mash some beans in the pot to make a sauce; add more water if beans are too thick, or cook down more if too soupy. Cook rice according to package directions. Chop romaine. Place romaine on individual plates or large serving platter, layer on warm rice, beans, and toppings. Dress with balsamic vinaigrette, or balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Serves 6-8.

Tips:   (1) Use 2 cans (14.5 oz.) of black beans and cut recipe in half for quicker version. (2) Leftover cooked beans freeze and reheat well, as does rice, so cook a whole pound of beans and all of the rice, planning to freeze separately the leftover rice and beans.