White Beans, Kuftes, and Rice Thursday Night Dinner

by Linda Capeloto Sendowski on December 20, 2009

Picture of Kuftes

Picture of Rice

Picture of beans

If you speak with anyone from the Sephardic community in Seattle, Washington, you will find that virtually everyone, me included, ate avicas con arroz or beans and rice on Thursday nights for dinner.  Usually this dinner also included some kuftes (beef meatballs with parsley, on a bed of sauteed onions, all simmering in a tomato sauce).  Thursday night dinner was accompanied by a chopped salad with lemon and olive oil dressing and crusty French bread.

You are probably wondering what the significance of Thursday night dinner is.  In a time when dining out was a rare occurrence and there were often many mouths to feed, this hearty and sometimes vegetarian dinner was meant to be a do-ahead meal that could be made early in the day or even the day before.  The menu uses simple ingredients, locally available, that are economical.  The meal left homemakers with more time to prepare for the elaborate Friday night dinner and the Sabbath.

Rice, beans, and kuftes are my comfort foods.  Although they are of humble origins, they are hearty, tasty, and banish the cold on a winter night.  The rice, hot and fluffy with a touch of heat has crusty corners on the bottom worth fighting over; the kufte, meaty but not too heavy, integrates the sweet of onions with the green parsley taste; and lastly the silky and earthy beans complete the trio of dishes that complement each other and provide sound nutrition.  The leftovers are great, especially kufte sandwiches on a crusty French roll or in a puffy warm pita.  Include a couple of sliced pepperoncinis and viola, a sandwich delicious enough to inspire cravings.  Leftover bean puree is wonderful spread on crostini, and eaten with salad for lunch.

You can halve the quantities if you are only two for dinner, but I always make the whole amount and freeze the rest.  When my eldest son attended college in San Diego I would freeze single serving portions for him so he could have a home cooked meal for dinner while studying.

Rice with Tomato and Onions (Arroz)

Picture of Ingredients for Rice with Tomato and Onions aka Arroz

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion

1 Anaheim chili

1 teaspoon salt

cracked pepper to taste

2 teaspoons cumin

½ cup diced tomatoes in puree

2 cup long grain  rice

3 and ½ cups water

Picture of Chopped Onions

Picture of chopped Anaheim chile

Peel and dice  onion with a sharp knife.  Wash and dry Anaheim chili.  Cut off stem end and  pointed tip of the chili.  Slit it open lengthwise and lay the chili flat.  Cut out any seeds and white veins.  Cut  chili into long strips lengthwise and then, dice into small pieces.

Heat a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat.  Add  olive oil and then add diced onions.  Sauté  a few moments, and when  onions wilt, add diced chili.  Sauté onions and chili another few minutes on medium heat, until onions are translucent and sweet.  Season with salt and cumin powder.

Add tomatoes, stir, and  add  rice.  Stir  rice to combine with the onions and chilies.  Lastly add  water, cover, and bring to a boil.  The moment  rice boils, turn down heat to  lowest setting and let simmer with lid on for about another fifteen to twenty minutes, until all water is absorbed and rice begins to stick on  bottom.  Leave rice covered for a bit before serving or if you make this early in the day, reheat it slowly over a low flame.

Picture of Rice with Tomato and Onions aka Arroz

Sephardic White Bean Soup

Picture of Ingredients for Sephardic White Bean Soup

1  16 ounce package Great Northern Beans

1 large onion

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup chopped parsley

½ cup  chopped tomatoes in puree

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon  pepper

1/2 teaspoon cumin or more (optional)

1/2 teaspoon baharat (optional)

3 quarts of water

Empty contents of package of beans in strainer and rinse with cold water.  Check for any stones or unattractive looking beans or debris. Let  beans drain over a bowl.

Peel onion and dice  into medium small size pieces. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat, add olive oil,  add  diced onion.  Sauté onion for two minutes on medium, season  with salt and pepper.  Add cumin and baharat for a stronger flavored dish.  Next, add  parsley and stir to combine.  Pour in tomatoes, stir, and then add beans.

Add 3 quarts of cold water and bring  pot to a boil.  Cover with  lid, leaving it slightly ajar and turn down heat to medium low or low. Let  beans simmer for around two hours.  The beans are done when the liquid is no longer watery looking but thick, almost opaque and the beans are very soft.

Everyday Beef Kuftes

Picture of Everyday Beef Kuftes, Step 1

2 pounds  ground beef chuck

1 cup  chopped fresh parsley

1 cup Panko (Japanese bread crumbs, non dairy, kosher)

½ teaspoon salt

Freshly cracked pepper

2 teaspoons cumin (optional)

2 teaspoons baharat (optional)

5 eggs


1 and ½ cups flour

3 eggs

2 and ½ cups Panko

1 teaspoon salt

Safflower for frying


2  to 3  large onions

2 tablespoons oil

2 large 28 oz cans  chopped tomatoes in juice

1 regular 14 ounce can  chopped tomatoes in puree

½ teaspoon salt

Cracked pepper to taste

1 teaspoon baharat (optional)

Place  ground beef chuck in large  bowl.  Add seasonings, panko, parsley and 4  eggs.  Mix together with your hands lightly.  If you over mix the ground beef it becomes gummy.  If mixture is dry, add the fifth egg.

Picture of Everyday Beef Kuftes, Step 2

Divide and roll all kufte at one time.  dredge them in flour and,  place them on a large sheet of aluminum foil next to  stove. Crack  three eggs and beat them together in a bowl.  Place  panko crumbs in another shallow bowl.   Take a flour coated kufte ball in your hand, flatten it into a patty about 1-2 inches in diameter dip it in beaten egg and then roll in  panko crumbs to coat. Set them all aside on a aluminum foil.

Heat  sauté pan to medium high Add oil to about to ¼ inch deep next, place coated kufte in  medium hot oil and fry, turning only once, until golden brown. Use tongs to turn, do not pierce with a fork.  Remove kufte from  oil and drain on paper towels. If you use  tongs to turn  kufte rather than poking with a fork  oil will foam less and they are easier to turn.

Picture of Everyday Beef Kuftes, Step 3 half-size

Picture of Everyday Beef Kuftes, Step 4

Peel onions and slice them in thin rings.  Place  onions in a large Dutch oven or large fry pan that has been heated and contains 2 tablespoons oil.  Season onions with salt and pepper and baharat.  Sauté onions on medium low heat until they begin to caramelize.

Picture of Everyday Beef Kuftes, Step 5

Place  fried kufte on top of onions.  Pour tomatoes over kufte.  Cover and simmer for about an hour until the kufte are fluffy and have finished cooking through.  Serve with rice.

Yield 30-32 Kufte

Serving Size 2-4 per person

Picture of Everyday Beef Kuftes

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

barbunia December 21, 2009 at 5:41 PM

Yummy wonderful posts

theborekadiary January 14, 2010 at 2:16 PM

Thanks for the encouragement! I will continue to post recipes and stories.

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