You should always have an easy vegan rice and beans no-recipe recipe at the ready.
Some version of rice and beans is a standby meal around the world. Among the reasons for this is that rice and beans is a filling and cheap dish.
There’s no reason to feel bad about having rice and beans many days of the week – it can’t all be cashew cheeses and tempeh!
A great thing about this easy rice and beans recipe is that it’s totally customizable! This is the kitchen sink of dishes.
Mix up the flavors, buy a fancy ingredient to spruce things up or just keep it simple and get on with your life.
Here is the rundown on a Mexican version of rice and beans. (They are our wonderful southern neighbors, after all, and the flavor combos are just the best.)
Easy Vegan Rice And Beans System
The key to cooking with no-recipe recipes is having a system. Think in terms of building blocks and you can create a dish easily.
For rice and beans, this system is simple.
Easy Vegan Rice And Beans Ingredient System
Pretty darn simple, no?
1. The Rice
Rice is the base of this dish. It pulls together all the rest – like bread to sandwiches or noodles to pasta primavera.
Now, if you want to be good and healthy, make the rice be brown rice. The downside here is that brown rice takes many times longer to cook than white rice (like 45 minutes vs. 15 minutes). You also might prefer the taste or texture of white.
My vote? Mix it up!
- Make brown rice if you’re being good and have time.
- Make white rice if you’re starving or just want the taste of white rice tonight.
- Put all the ingredients in a tortilla instead! (see below)
For a Mexican beans and rice recipe, I use long-grain (but not basmati or jasmine) or medium-grain rice. Short-grain would work just fine too. So would any other rice really, but that’s what I would recommend.
Burrito-fy it – you can put all the ingredients that follow in a tortilla if you’re out of rice or just not feeling it tonight (here’s a pretty simple but to the point video that shows you how to roll a burrito well). Or you can put it all in a hard taco. Or a soft taco. Or on top of freakin’ quinoa.
Use rice but any base works, really.
2. The Beans
For this rice and beans meal, choose from:
- black beans
- pinto beans
- vegan refried beans
I prefer vegan black beans and rice but, as always, do whatever you want. This is a Mexican rice and beans recipe but there are so many beans in this world. If you have great northern, eat great northern. Kidney? Adzuki? Do it up.
Dried vs. canned
Dried beans are cheaper and it’s said they give you less, um, gas than the canned guys. I can find relatively cheap organic canned beans ($.99 at Sprouts) and I find that to be too appealing cost-wise and time-wise to opt for dried. Up to you!
If you want to sub in something for beans every now and again, treat yourself to some vegan sausage. It’s a great substitute because vegan sausage is “meaty”, sometimes actually made from beans and has tons of spice.
I regularly make Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s sausages. They are spicy (because I make ’em spicy) and bring great flavor to a Mexican rice and beans dish. (The Chorizo Sausages recipe I use is similar to these Italian Sausages but with pinto beans and different spices – the recipe I use is in her Vegan Brunch book.)
You can also purchase packaged vegan sausage. Field Roast has a Mexican chipotle flavor you might be able to find at your local natural products grocer or Whole Foods.
3. The Veggies
Like everything else in this flexible system, use whatever veggies you have around or whatever you want to get at the store.
My aim in every meal is to have something green. This seems like a good strategy to try to be healthy.
A rice and beans dish can be as simple as: rice, beans, spinach and hot sauce. Seriously.
If I don’t have spinach for this rice and beans meal, I hope I have broccoli or zucchini.
Keep it simple but add as much as you want or can!
Here are some veggie ideas to get the wheels turning:
- red peppers
- plantains (green or sweet!)
(Some of you might be thinking, “Some of these are actually fruits not vegetables.” Don’t worry about it. You get the point. 🙄 )
4. The Spices
The oil and salt that the veggies sauté in are certainly enough flavor but why not add more spice than just the hot sauce you throw on after?!
Cumin is my standby for all things Mexican. I love it.
These are the spices I use in this meal:
- chili powder
- garlic powder (especially good if you don’t have any garlic on hand)
5. The Condiments
In the kitchen sink tradition of rice and beans, what’s in your fridge?
I love adding salsa to this dish. If I don’t have it, I hope that I have tomatoes, onions, lime and cilantro to make a pico de gallo.
Have at least one of these flavor boosters around and your meal will be complete:
- hot sauce like sriracha
If all else fails, I basically always have sriracha for some tomato-y goodness and spice. I recommend you do the same.
Always add avocado if you have it, obviously. And cilantro really ups the flavor here if you happen to be so lucky as to have some that hasn’t gone bad in the fridge (where herbs go to die).
How To Bring It All Together
Boil up rice, sauté up the veggies and put it all together!
Here’s a brief play-by-play:
- Make rice according to package directions. Plan ahead so you can have brown rice. Think about it on your way home from work and put it on right when you get home. It will take you time to chop and sauté so the rice will be done by the time you’re done.
- Cut up veggies to the size you want. Heat olive oil in a pan and sauté the onions and garlic first. Add the rest of the veggies you have and cook them until tender and/or a bit browned (I especially like that for broccoli).
- Add drained and cooked beans in with the veggies to heat them up a bit. You can also do this in a separate pot if you prefer.
- Add spices to the veggies and beans and cook for a bit more.
- Put this dish together in this order from bottom to top: rice, beans and veggies, condiments.
You can also choose to steam certain veggies or even have them raw. If you do this, you might want to spice the beans over heat for flavor. Or not!
Stock Up For Future You
This is something you can have for many meals so:
- Make up many cups of brown rice on your day off to have for the week ahead.
- If you are making dried beans, make a whole batch of them at once. Or, stock up on many cans of beans to have at the ready.
- Keep some frozen veggies in the freezer. If you have canned beans, white rice, and sriracha on hand too, you just need something green to make a decent, quick meal – yay for the frozen veggies!
- When you make up the veggies, make enough for leftovers, as always. You can always throw them in a tortilla to mix things up.
Oh and hit up the store on the way home and grab an avocado – everything in life is better with an avocado.
Do you have an easy vegan rice and beans meal you make? What is your go-to rice and beans dish? Share below and tag @plentyvegan on Instagram to connect!
If you want to get some more ideas for how to eat a simple vegan diet, check out the Plenty Vegan Plan – start with the free stuff and see if you want some more resources by getting the whole shebang (one week’s worth of an easy vegan meal plan and grocery list included).
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