Easy black beans and rice recipe that makes for a healthy and flavorful side dish. Fluffy grains of white rice simmer with colorful vegetables and fiber-rich legumes. Serve with your favorite protein for a satisfying meal.
Black beans with rice is a popular combination in Caribbean and Latin cuisine. The flavors come together on the stovetop with simple pantry seasonings and ingredients. The recipe is naturally gluten-free and nutritious, so get ready to turn boring grains and canned beans into a festive side dish!
With so many types of rice to choose, I prefer long-grain white rice for its light and fluffy quality. The elongated shape cooks into separate pieces without mush sticking so that it’s easy to scoop. Jasmine and basmati rice are also good choices and have a fragrant aroma.
Toast the grains
Heating the rice in olive oil before simmering in the chicken broth develops nutty flavors as the grains toast in the hot fat. This only takes a few extra minutes, but the color and taste are worth the extra step.
Layer in color and flavor
To give the rice a Latin twist, alliums, peppers, and rich spices are my go-to ingredients. Sauteeing the red onions, bell peppers, and garlic softens the harsh notes of the sulfurous vegetables.
Blooming the cumin and oregano in the hot olive oil helps to extract the trapped fat-soluble flavor compounds from the spices into the simmering liquid. All of these processes happen even before the rice cooks, which will then coat and infuse into each grain.
Canned beans make it healthy and quicker to cook
Blean beans are prized for their nutritional benefits, delivering a hearty amount of soluble and insoluble fibers, vegetarian protein, and vitamins and minerals like folate and potassium. Using canned black beans adds a quick and convenient healthy boost, without having to cook the beans all day.
Make sure to rinse and drain the beans well before adding them to the pot. The cloudy liquid in the can is starchy and sometimes salty, I prefer not to add that texture or flavor to the rice. If you invested the time and have leftover homemade black beans, they’re perfect for this recipe.
Let it simmer
Once all of the vegetables, toasted rice, spices, and chicken broth are added to the pot, it’s time to soften the grains. The liquid is first brought to a boil, covered to trap the built-up steam, then gently simmer until the rice absorbs, swells, and becomes tender. After an initial absorption, a 10 minute steaming off the heat allows the rice to fully cook. This process takes about 30 minutes.
Add some citrus
Freshly squeezed lime juice balances the savory taste with a little bit of tang after the rice fully cooks. The lime zest has bright citrus oils in the skin and when mixed with the hot grains, it kicks up the aroma in the pot making it more irresistible. I like to serve extra lime wedges on top right before digging in.
Main dishes to pair with rice and beans
Add more fiber with brown rice
Brown rice is an easy way to bump up the fiber level. The outer bran is left intact which adds a more complex, nutty flavor. Purchase long-grain varieties, to keep the dish light. Add more chicken broth, 4 ½ cups to account for steam exiting the pot. The dish will take longer to cook as it needs to soften the tough protective layer, about 45 minutes.
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Black Beans and Rice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup diced red onion, ¼-inch dice
- ½ cup red bell pepper, ¼-inch dice
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 cups long grain white rice, jasmine or basmati
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 3 cups black beans, canned, rinsed and drained
- 3 1/2 cups chicken broth, or stock
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 teaspoon lime zest
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
- lime wedges, for serving
- In a large saucepan or dutch oven heat olive oil over medium heat.
- Once the oil is hot, add the onion, saute until fragrant and translucent, 2 minutes.
- Add the bell pepper and garlic, saute for 1 minute.
- Add the rice, stir and cook until lightly toasted, 2 minutes.
- Add the cumin, oregano, and salt, stir and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add the bay leaf, black beans, and chicken broth, stir to combine.
- Bring the rice to a boil, cover, then reduce to a simmer over low heat.
- Cook until the rice has absorbed all of the water and the grains are tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and allow the rice to sit for 10 minutes covered, do not stir.
- Add the lime juice, zest, and cilantro, gently stir to combine. Serve rice hot.
- Recipe Yield: 10 cups
- Serving Size: ½ cup
- Storing: Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days. To freeze, portion into small resealable plastic bags for up to 1 month.
- Reheating: Reheat in the microwave on high power in a bowl in 30-second intervals, stirring in between until warmed through. Defrost the rice first if frozen.
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