Bean and Rice Botana

Serves 8. Recipe, provided by Cooking Matters, is from chef Sarah McKay, of Detroit.

2 cups brown rice

2 small onions

1 medium green bell pepper

1 small clove garlic

4 ozs. low-fat Monterey Jack cheese

3 (15.5-oz.) cans pinto beans

2 tbls. canola oil

1 tbl. chili powder

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. ground cayenne pepper

1 (28-oz.) can diced or crushed tomatoes, no salt added

Nonstick cooking spray

Optional ingredients:

1 medium avocado

2 to 3 tbls. fresh cilantro

1/2 cup nonfat or low-fat plain yogurt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cook rice according to package directions and set aside. While rice cooks, prepare rest of dish.

3. Peel, rinse and dice onions. Rinse and dice bell pepper. Peel and finely chop garlic. If using avocado, peel it, remove pit and slice. Rinse and chop fresh cilantro. Grate cheese. Drain and rinse canned beans.

4. In a medium pot over medium-high heat, heat oil. Add onions, garlic and bell pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until veggies are soft and just starting to brown. Add spices and stir to toast, about 30 seconds.

5. Add the drained beans and canned tomatoes with tomato juice. Simmer mixture on low until thickened, about 15 minutes.

6. Coat 9-inch-by-13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray. Spread cooked rice over the bottom of the dish, then cover with beans and sprinkle cheese on top.

7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until cheese is melted and botana is heated through. If using??????, top with cilantro, avocado and a dollop of yogurt.