Small Bites |

Small Bites

Spicy Black Beans and Rice can be eaten as an entrée and adapted for vegetarians.

New gear: Lodge’s Pro-Logic Cast-iron Pizza Pan

(Available at retailers nationwide and for $42.95 at )

The secret to good flatbread and tortillas (not to mention amazing pancakes) is a heavy flat griddle.

Unfortunately many griddles, including the widely available rectangular cast-iron models, are too narrow to accommodate large flatbreads and usually lack handles, making it a challenge to work with them.

Now cast iron king Lodge has the solution. The company’s 14-inch seasoned cast-iron pizza pan is forehead-slapping good. It is perfect for nearly any size flatbread, tortilla, pancake and, yes, even pizza.

Though not technically a griddle, the Lodge pizza pan excels as one. Its generous round cooking area makes it a pleasure to cook on. And its upright handles make it a cinch to carry.

Also, unlike the two-burner rectangular models, which create hot spots, the pizza pan is conveniently designed for one burner.

And for those with a hankering for some outdoor cooking, the pan is equally happy on a stove or over charcoal or open flame.

On the table: Spicy Black Beans and Rice

This savory blend of black beans and rice is simple to assemble and can serve multiple roles in the meal. Eat it as an easy entree, or wrap it in flour tortillas for a burrito. Also try it topped with cheese over nacho chips. Vegetarians could substitute 2 tablespoons olive oil for the bacon.

Start to finish: 30 minutes

Servings: 4

4 slices bacon, cut into bite-size pieces

1 small yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 cup long-grain white rice

2 cups water

15-ounce can black beans, drained

1 cup jarred green salsa

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook 2 minutes, or until the fat begins to render. Add the onion and garlic and saute another 2 minutes. Stir in the paprika and saute another minute.

Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, another 30 seconds. Add the water and beans, stir well and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to simmer and cook 15 minutes.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and let rest 5 minutes. Mix in the salsa, then season with salt and pepper.

— AP food writer J.M. Hirsch can be e-mailed at

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