Dressed-Up Black Beans and Rice: A simple take on black beans and rice with lots of added veggies. Top with sliced avocado, guacamole, salsa, sour cream, or cheese and serve over spinach and/or rice for a hearty vegetarian meal.
As I’ve ventured more into vegetarian cooking over the past few years, I knew it was only a matter of time before I came up with my own version of classic rice and beans. My mom makes awesome Cuban black beans & rice, but her recipe calls for dried beans that have to be soaked overnight, plus she uses a stovetop pressure cooker. I wanted to make a quicker, college student friendly version that’s still packed with flavor. This one fits the bill and only takes about 25 minutes to make, start to finish.
I can’t claim that this black beans and rice recipe is “authentic” in any way, but I can claim that it’s delicious, packed with veggies, and one of the heartiest vegetarian meals I’ve ever had. I was going to call it “Simple Black Beans & Rice” but I realize that a truly simple version of this recipe is just black beans right out of the can served over microwave rice (and I’m not knocking that version!).
Mine’s “dressed up” with spices and veggies, and it’s served over spinach and rice and topped with as many additions as you’d like– guacamole, salsa, sour cream, and cheese are all great toppings. Step one is sautéing veggies (diced bell pepper, onion, and tomato) and spices together in a large skillet.
Step two is adding tomato paste, broth or water, and drained & rinsed black beans and simmering it all for 10-15 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Then, it’s ready!Since I’m staying at home for a few weeks this summer, I used my dad and brother as taste-testers because they’re tougher critics for healthy dishes than I am. They’re also major meat eaters and typically don’t enjoy vegetarian meals, but they both gave this vegetarian black beans and rice two thumbs up. They did leave the spinach out of their servings, and they ate it out of cereal bowls. Boys.
If you try the recipe, feel free to let me know in a comment or take a picture and tag me @livbane on Instagram. Hope you enjoy!
Dressed-Up Black Beans & Rice
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil*
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1/2 cup red or green bell pepper, diced
- 4 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
- 4 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup water or vegetable broth**
- 2 14-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, stems removed (optional)
- Brown rice for serving (I used 1 1/2 cups brown rice, uncooked)
- Optional: spinach for serving
- Start brown rice first since it typically cooks for about 40 minutes.
- While rice is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium-low heat and add cooking oil. Sauté chopped onion, bell pepper, and garlic for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add spices (chili powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and salt). Sauté for 3 to 4 more minutes, until veggies are starting to soften.
- Add chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, water or broth, and drained black beans. Simmer uncovered on medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until sauce thickens. If sauce becomes too thick, add a little more water or broth. Add cilantro just before serving, if using.
- Serve over brown rice and/or spinach and top with guacamole or sliced avocado, pico de gallo, sour cream, or cheese.
**You can substitute chicken broth for a non-vegetarian version.
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