After a long day at work, it can be difficult to muster up enough energy to make dinner, not to mention a healthy dinner. Faced with this situation many times in the past, I could usually put something together on the fly, but lately, my mind has been going blank. Sure, I could have a pizza or some sub sandwiches delivered, but that isn’t much help to my effort to eat healthy.

Since I needed good food fast (or somewhat fast), I turned to old cookbooks for ideas and found a great recipe for Italian Rice and Beans that I hadn’t made in years.

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(credit: Crystal Grobe)

It’s made with plenty of pantry staples like brown rice, white beans, and sun-dried tomatoes and packs in great nutrients from fresh spinach and toasted nuts (I used walnuts since pine nuts are a bit pricey). Simply start the rice when you get home and before you know it, dinner will be on the table. I’ve adapted the recipe slightly to serve a family of four. Add a side salad or steamed vegetable to add even more nutritional punch.

Italian Rice and Beans
Adapted from Vegan Yum Yum by Lauren Ulm
(serves 4)

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1 cup brown rice, uncooked
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, julienned
1/2 cup pine nuts (or walnuts)
2 tsp fresh Italian herbs of your choice (basil, oregano, marjoram, rosemary, etc)
1 (15 oz.) can great northern beans (or other white bean), rinsed and drained
1/4 tsp kosher salt
3 tsp balsamic vinegar
3-4 large handfuls fresh baby spinach
Zest from 1 lemon

Cook rice according to package directions or use a rice cooker. When rice is nearly finished, heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add sun-dried tomatoes, nuts, and herbs; stirring often. When nuts have turned golden brown, add white beans and toss gently to keep beans whole. Add salt and vinegar and reduce heat to low.

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Add spinach to sauté pan, in a single layer over the beans and tomatoes. Place hot, steaming rice over spinach and let wilt for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Toss gently and transfer to a serving dish. Garnish with lemon zest and serve.