Easy Red Beans & Rice

 A part of me was meant to live in the South. When we lived in North Carolina and Texas I was in culinary heaven. I LOVE the food in the South. The barbecue, the spicy, the deep fried, the delicious... While this recipe would never been caught dead in the South (it's low-fat ;) ) it is a yummy, lower calorie version of Red beans & rice.

1 T. + 1 t. Olive Oil
1 C. finely chopped onion
2 t. finely chopped garlic
16oz Canned kidney beans, drained
2 oz. diced, lean smoked ham or turkey-ham
1 c. low-sodium chicken broth
1 c. chopped canned tomatoes with juice
1/2 c, thinly sliced scallions
1 t. chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 t. dried
1 large or 2 small bay leaves
1/4 - 1/2 t. hot pepper sauce (like Tabasco)
salt & pepper to taste
4 C. cooked white rice

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat; add onion and garlic. Saute and continue to stir until onions are wilted about 6-7 minutes. Add beans, ham, broth, tomatoes, scallions, thyme, bay leaves and hot pepper sauce; mix well. Over high heat bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 40 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until the beans get creamy. Season with salt & pepper, remove bay leaf and serve over rice.

* Note, after sauteing the onion and garlic you can transfer to a slow-cooker and cook for several hours until beans are creamy.