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Black bean stew

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Prepare the rice in the water according to package directions or your own procedure (white rice is OK, but it makes for a bland and fairly gummy dish). While the rice is cooking, combine all the rest of the ingredients except the cheese in a saucepan and simmer, at least 15 minutes. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spoon the cooked rice into a casserole dish. Remove the bay leaf from the bean mixture; pour the beans over the rice and stir; it doesn't have to be thoroughly mixed. Top with the cheese and bake uncovered 20-35 minutes or until cheese is browned and bubbly. Let stand five minutes before serving. I tell people this serves four, but that's a fairly skimpy serving. It doubles easily, but you'll need a pretty good-size casserole. Also, the wine is optional for those who don't use it, but it really does make a difference, and since the other flavors are pretty assertive, I'd suggest using a fairly cheap, strongly flavored wine. Posted By Teresa Lauren Marx On or