Spanish rice and beans is one of those dishes that’s open to interpretation and doesn’t strictly belong to any tradition. This vegan version is a great choice when you want something easy and hearty.
Inspired by a number of interpretations of what’s referred to as “Spanish rice,” in this version, briny pimiento olives perk up the mellow flavor of rice and beans.
Brown or white rice: The rice is added to the pan once you do a quick sauté of onion, bell pepper, and garlic; brown or white rice both work well in this dish. It takes longer to cook with brown rice, of course.
Complete the meal: This is fantastic served with wilted garlicky greens (chard, kale, collards). Arrange a platter of red and yellow peppers, artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes, and orange slices to serve on the side.
Another meal idea: Serve with a simple salad of mixed greens, small orange sections and toasted almonds. Add more green to the plate with steamed broccoli, broccoli rabe, or green beans.
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large yellow or red onion, finely chopped
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium bell pepper, any color, diced
- 1 1/2 cups uncooked brown or white rice (see note)
- 14-ounce can diced tomatoes (try fire-roasted)
- 1 tablespoon spice blend of your choice (adobo, all-purpose, Cajun, or BBQ blend)
- Two 15-ounce cans (drained and rinsed) red beans, or 3 1/2 cups cooked
- 3 scallions, thinly sliced
- 3/4 cup pimiento-stuffed green olives
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley, as desired
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Dried hot red pepper flakes or hot sauce, optional
- Heat the oil in an extra large skillet or in a stir-fry pan. Add the onion and sauté over medium-low heat until translucent. Add the garlic and bell pepper and continue to sauté until the onion just begins to brown lightly.
- Add the rice of choice. If using brown rice, stir in 4 cups of water; if using white, stir in 3 cups.
- Stir in the tomatoes and spice blend and bring to a slow boil. Lower the heat and simmer gently and steadily, covered, until the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes for white rice; 30 minutes for brown. If rice isn’t done to your liking at this point, add 1/2 cup more water and cook until absorbed; repeat as needed.
- Stir in the beans and scallions. Continue cooking until heated through, then remove from the heat.
- Stir in the olives and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper.
- Serve at once; pass around red pepper flakes or hot sauce to anyone who’d like a spicier dish.
Variation: Substitute quinoa for the rice. Use 1 1/2 cups quinoa and 3 cups water, as you would for white rice; test once the water is absorbed. If the grain isn’t done to your liking at this point, add 1/2 cup more water and cook until absorbed.
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