Beans & Rice

January 29, 2010

Cuban Black Beans and Rice

About one night a week I have the place to myself while the Mister is off partaking in some extracurriculars. If you agree to keep a secret then I’ll divulge that I look forward to my date with an empty house once a week. Because, let’s face it, sometimes I don’t want him crashing my aerobic dance party, mocking my turbo jam session, or throwing off my Wii Fit ultimate hoola hoop groove. Sometimes I want to watch back to back episodes of Propery Virgins or House Hunters, even if I’ve already seen them, while flipping back and forth to Real Housewives or Project Runway. Sometimes I just want peace and quiet. No TV. No talking. Just staring at walls. (Ok, I agree, that last point is a little weird, but after a long day don’t you sometimes want nothing more than to stare at walls?) And sometimes, I just want beans and rice for dinner without the pouting.

In my ideal world we’d have beans and rice for dinner at least once a week. But a certain fussy carnivore will have nothing to do with an entirely plant-based dinner, try and try as I might. I’ve learned to pick my battles, but I do (secretly) fist pump when he returns to the kitchen for another round of roasted Brussels or cauliflower without being nudged (and it is a very rare occurance that I nudge). Happily eating his vegetables when served alongside something that previously swam, moo-ed or clucked is victory enough for me. I’ll take what I can get.

This is one of my favorite rice and bean dishes. It comes together in no time. Perfect for when I have the entire couch to myself and don’t want to waste time fussing in the kitchen. It also freezes well. I make an entire batch and freeze 1-2 portions (without rice) for an easy lunch or husbandless dinner.

Cuban Black Beans and Rice

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 3 cups cooked black beans (from 2 14.5-oz cans, rinsed and drained, or 1 cup dried)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • few splashes of hot sauce
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • cooked brown rice

Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper and garlic and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chili powder, ground cumin and oregano and cook for 30 seconds. Add the next 5 ingredients (through bay leaf) and continue cooking over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until mixture thickens. Remove bay leaf and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the chopped cilantro and serve over brown rice. Top with additional cilantro if desired.

Serves 3-4.

15 Comments
  1. Ellen

    January 29, 2010 at 7:37 am


    What type of black beans do you use? I have found Amy’s organic to be pretty good—any other recommendations?

  2. Carolyn

    January 29, 2010 at 7:58 am


    Ellen: I’ve actually never tried Amy’s canned beans. For dishes like this I’ve found non-organic work best. The organic ones I’ve tried, even Eden’s, are very mushy and bland and don’t hold up well in this recipe (though they are good for black bean burgers). I’ve found either Bush’s or Goya black beans maintain their shape and texture for beans and rice dishes. Just be sure to drain/rinse them well.

  3. Lauren

    January 29, 2010 at 8:55 am


    I love rice and beans, but I was never sure what to put in them. This will be a good one to try. And, I love staring at walls when I am tired too—sometimes it is nice to just have alone time! Laughing about the turbo jams because I know exactly what that situation looks like!

  4. Lauren

    January 29, 2010 at 8:57 am


    Oh, and by the way for anyone who wants to try this recipe, Whole Foods has 365 Brand Frozen Brown Rice that cooks up very nicely and is super inexpensive. It is near the frozen vegetable section of WF. I love it–saves me so much time and tastes great.

  5. Estela @ Weekly Bite

    January 29, 2010 at 8:57 am


    I love beans and rice! Such a comforting meal!

  6. Danna

    January 29, 2010 at 10:38 am


    I also love beans and rice! This recipe sounds delicious. And yes, I totally agree — sometimes you just have to stare at a wall to unwind after a long day! :)

  7. Lauren

    January 29, 2010 at 1:12 pm


    I completely concur with your take on “solo” nights. Although I love time spent with my husband at the dinner table, every once and a while it’s nice to prepare a meal meant just for me – and it’s almost always sans animal protein. This vegetarian meal would be perfect for the next time my hubby is out with the boys!

  8. Sara

    January 30, 2010 at 3:03 pm


    Yum! You are such a great writer, literally made me laugh as I wish my tiny studio had enough space to hold an ‘aerobic dance party’. Beans and Rice, the perfect protein, whats not to like? Looks great!

  9. The Hungry Teacher

    February 1, 2010 at 3:16 pm


    After going to Cuba in May and eating dinner at someone’s house (quite randomly), and having authentic black beans and rice, I’ve been looking for a recipe to try! Looking forward to trying this and wondering how it will compare with my Cuban experience!

  10. Anna @ unsweetenedcocoa

    February 1, 2010 at 10:11 pm


    Mmmm, I am definitely going to try this. I LOVE rice and beans and have been craving them! This post was timed perfectly for me. :D

    Oh, and about your night in–that’s my definition of an awesome night too. My meal of choice is often tomato soup, which L. sadly doesn’t like, so I have to eat it up while I can. Tomato soup and channel flipping=night of greatness.

  11. Zoe

    February 4, 2010 at 10:42 am


    Hi! Your beans look amazing. My roommates and I just started a food blog, and I posted a favorite cuban beans recipe of my mothers. My post is here: http://curiouscooks.wordpress.com/2010/01/25/cuban-black-beans/

    Her recipe doesn’t have tomato in it, and the flavors are pretty intense so I’m not sure if tomato would be a good addition with the vinegar and sugar that is in her recipe … but with the hot sauce and spices in yours it sounds amazing. I’m going give your recipe a try! Thanks for the great idea and the great blog.

  12. Kelly

    February 6, 2010 at 3:39 pm


    This looks delicious! I’m going to try it this week. Also, rice freezes really well :)

  13. The Hungry Teacher

    February 10, 2010 at 9:30 pm


    Yum!! These were delicious!!!!! Love love love!!!
    They weren’t exactly the same as the ones I had in Cuba, but, they were definitely great!!

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