The Surprising Side Dish

It feels like months since I last wrote about something *other* than money.  I’ve been REALLY focused on the financial side of financial independence lately — I’ve been posting about dividends, net worth updates, being financially normal, and wondering if I will ever head back to work.

From my recent posts, you’d think this site was just about money!

Nope, it’s not JUST about money!  It’s also about living a really damn-good life on a minimal budget.

I think it’s high-time I got back in the kitchen and wetted your taste buds again….


Where’s the Beans?

If you’ve followed this blog in the past, you’ll already know that I’m big on alternative sources of protein.  Meat is just too damn expensive, and too unhealthy to really eat frequently.  I love to cook with eggs, tofu and beans (ETB) instead.

But you’re probably wondering, “Wait a minute Mr. Tako, if you’re such a big fan…where’s all the Egg, Tofu, and Bean recipes?”

Aha!  Solid point dear reader!  I haven’t actually shared any of my ETB recipes yet!

Today we’re going to remedy this problem (at least in part), with a surprisingly good recipe:  Brown Rice And Garbanzo Bean Salad.

Doesn’t that sound boring as hell?   You’d think so just from the name.

Well, don’t judge a recipe by its name!  This is a deliciously simple (and healthy) recipe with outstanding flavors … that costs practically nothing.

If you’re not ranting “IT TASTES LIKE I’M EATING ITALY!!!” after trying this recipe … well …your taste buds must be broken.

Alright, let’s do this!



First off, you’re going to need some cooked brown rice.  Typically I’ll use a short-grain brown rice.

If you’ve ever cooked brown rice before, you’ll know this takes WAY longer than white rice.  Go start some now!

I use a Zojirushi induction rice cooker (similar to this one), which has a brown rice option.

Brown Rice  One Cup Of Brown Rice
When it’s cooked, you’ll need 2 cups worth.  Be sure to make enough!


Beans & Other Ingredients

While the rice is cooking,  you’ll need to prep the following:

  • 1/2 an onion.  Yellow or white is fine.
  • 1/4 cup of cilantro.
  • 1 can of garbanzo beans (15 oz).

Dice up the onion into very fine, small pieces.  It should look like this when you’re finished:

Finely Chopped Onion
Chop the onions as finely as you can.

Do the same thing for the cilantro.  If you don’t like cilantro stems, discard them.  As long as you end up with roughly a 1/4 cup of cilantro (when finished) it’ll work out.

Next, open the can of garbanzo beans and drain off any liquid.  I usually rinse off the beans with water as well.

Place all three into a medium sized mixing bowl.

Onions Beans And Cilantro
Looking good already!  Time to make some sauce!

The Sauce

Next up, it’s time to make the important part — The Sauce.  I firmly believe that the sauce is what makes a dish.  Feel free to alter any of the following amounts to your liking.  Getting the sauce “right” is important!

You’ll need the following:

  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of finely chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce.
  • 1/4 teaspoon of dried basil.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Combine all the sauce ingredients into a cup and mix thoroughly.

Sauce Premixed  Sauce Mixed
I usually do this in a Pyrex measuring cup.  (can’t recommend these enough.  They’re practically indestructible, and a essential kitchen tool!)

Then, taste it!  Does it need more salt?  You won’t know until you taste it!

I recommend tasting the food you’re cooking frequently.  It’s the only way to know if what your cooking is going to be delicious or a disaster.  Taste often!


Combining And Mixing

When the brown rice is cooked, combine two cups of rice in the medium size mixing bowl (along with beans, cilantro, and onions).

I usually measure out the rice using the same Pyrex measuring cup.  Less dishes = less work!

You’ll get something like this:

Ready For Sauce
Looks good already…but where’s the sauce?

Slowly pour on about 3/4 of the sauce into the mixing bowl.  Combine the ingredients thoroughly with a mixing spoon:

OK, that’s better….slowly add the sauce, mixing and tasting.

At this point you’ll want to taste the salad again.  Does it need more sauce?  Well, feel free to add more!

You’ll want to continue adding sauce in small amounts as you mix.  Taste as you go.  It’s possible too add too much!

…and that’s it!  Done!

Rice And Bean Salad
Done! Delicious, healthy, and cheap!


Final Thoughts & Cost

The final product is a frequent side dish at our table.  If you have brown rice already on-hand, this recipe only takes 5 minutes of work.  It’s ridiculously simple to make!

Not to mention CHEAP!

What’s the monetary damage?  In my kitchen, it tallies up pretty close to $1.25.

Canned garbanzo beans are going to be the expensive component here, costing roughly $0.80 – $0.89 per can.  The rice and spices all cost pennies in the amounts we’re using here.

The only thing that comes close to this level of cheap, easy, and delicious has to be popcorn

24 thoughts on “The Surprising Side Dish

  • January 17, 2017 at 6:30 PM

    Mmmm… looks good and the price is definitely right! 🙂

    I’ve forwarded this onto my wife since she does the cooking for us. That’s lucky for our family or we’d be eating sardines every night!

    — Jim

    • January 17, 2017 at 7:20 PM

      You say that like eating sardines every night is a bad thing! We like smelt when they are in season. Very similar to a sardine, but we can catch them locally (unlike sardines).

      • January 17, 2017 at 8:01 PM

        We’re able to catch sardines in a tin can from the grocery store. They roll themselves up in olive oil for us first… nice little guys!

        Never had smelt before but my daughter who’s 6 and picky about food looks forward to Daddy Daughter time because she wants to chow down on sardines together. That girl is destined for greatness!!

        — Jim

  • January 17, 2017 at 6:43 PM

    Oh my gosh, thank you for sharing this! I successfully went meat-free today and it felt great. I’m into a semi-vegetarian diet myself, but Mr. Picky Pincher is quite the carnivore, so we often have to meet in the middle.

    We just stocked up on dried garbanzo beans since they were on sale at the store, so this is a perfect recipe to try out. I’m all about cheap and filling. 🙂

    • January 17, 2017 at 7:34 PM

      Where do you find dried garbanzo beans? That’s like finding a unicorn!

      • January 17, 2017 at 7:48 PM

        No kidding! We found them prepackaged at our HEB, which is a local Texas grocery store. I have no idea how to cook them but I will report on that adventure. 🙂

        • January 17, 2017 at 8:32 PM

          Probably need to soak them for a day or two. Looking forward to hearing the results.

          • January 18, 2017 at 7:10 AM

            I soak dry garbanzo beans overnight, just like beans. Change water in the morning and then either boil them till done or use the pressure cooker. Be aware that they do expand quite a bit so have plenty of space in the pressure cooker.

        • January 17, 2017 at 9:15 PM

          I used to be so scared of cooking dried beans but now I have a fool proof method. It is so much less expensive than buying canned beans. In the PNW, I shop at Fred Meyer and buy garbanzo, kidney and black beans either from the bulk section or in prepackaged bags (1lb) bags. I load the crock pot up with two pounds, sprinkle in 1 teaspoon salt (helps prevent exploding beans), cover with water (2 inches above the dried beans) and cook on low for 5-6 hours. When done, I let cool and put beans and liquid in about 1.5cups into Ziploc bags and freeze. Instead of buying cans, I now take a bag out. They taste no different than canned beans! I was soaking overnight and stovetop cooking the next day, just the amount I needed, but this is so much easier (and no problem if I forget to soak the beans the night before!)
          Out of the two pounds, I get 6-7 bags of beans. I usually pay around $1.60 per 1lb bag. Much better than almost a dollar a can!

      • January 18, 2017 at 7:08 AM

        Mr. Tako, you can find dried chick peas/garbanzos at Indian stores or in the Ethnic/Mexican aisle at Kroger. For canned ones I also found a rather large can in this same aisle too. Indeed they are not easy to come by dry but ethnic stores particularly Indian ones do have them as they are a staple.

      • January 18, 2017 at 4:34 PM

        Mr. Tako…Cash and Carry sells Dried Garbanzo beans. We buy them in 25 lb bags and store them in free food grade containers icing containers.

        I ❤️ my Zijorishi(sp) rice cooker. I really had a difficult time parting with the $225 purchase price, but I did buy it in 1994. In spit of several moves and a drop or two(oh and some pink duct tape to keep It together) it works perfectly.

        • January 18, 2017 at 8:11 PM

          I’ll have to check Cash & Carry next time I’m there.

          Zojirushi is good quality stuff. Sturdy and well made.

  • January 17, 2017 at 6:53 PM

    Wow! $1.25? That’s a pretty good offering for an alternative source of protein! I’m going to have to try this in my kitchen now.

    Thanks for the recipe, Mr. Tako!

  • January 17, 2017 at 6:58 PM

    Yum! Easy, tasty, and cheap. How could I say no to that?

    Pyrex measuring cups are virtually indestructible, huh? Good to know. I’m gonna throw that in my friend’s face whenever she brags about her “unchippable” $1000 William Ashley plates. Pyrex 1, William Ashley 0.

    • January 17, 2017 at 7:18 PM

      It’s a kind of tempered soda lime glass. Originally developed at Corning, and apparently the same stuff used in chemistry glassware. Hard as a rock. Mine is over 25 years old!

  • January 17, 2017 at 7:36 PM

    These pictures are making me hungry! How long does brown rice take to cook?

    • January 17, 2017 at 8:35 PM

      Depends upon your rice cooker, and your rice. It also depends upon if you pre-soak the rice. In the range of 1 to 2 hours in most situations.

  • January 18, 2017 at 5:47 AM

    We always have a pot of beans going – I love that cheap protien. Lately we have been doing them Costa Rican style, but this looks like a nice fresh tasting recipe to try 🙂

    Thanks for sharing more great food, dude!

    • January 18, 2017 at 4:35 PM

      Just curious…what makes them Costa Rica style?

  • January 19, 2017 at 7:39 PM

    This looks delicious, obviously it’s cheap, AND it looks great for leftovers. Also, I’m a huge bean lover. This is definitely going in the list of recipes for next week’s meals. Thanks for sharing!

    • November 9, 2017 at 9:50 AM

      I usually get it cheaply from our local asian grocery store.

  • January 22, 2017 at 11:28 AM

    Beans are so wonderful and versatile. Taking whatever you throw at them and absorbing those flavors. Cheap and delicious are my favorite things in the kitchen.

  • November 12, 2017 at 1:31 AM

    I’ll take the sauce recipe happily, it sounds delicious, but garbanzo beans are the devil’s tooth. Is there any way to replace the beans? Anything?! Pork belly? 😀


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