Is anyone else ready for a simple pot of rice and beans? I know I am, not just as a counterpart to more festive and celebratory holiday fare, but also because this is the food I crave when I’m busy, stressed, distracted, whatever. (Come to think of it, I crave this food all the time, but especially when I need grounding.) I make a lot of rice and bean dinners, but lately I thought to use my turmeric rice recipe as the base. This one pot turmeric rice, beans & greens dinner is the happy result. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s quick, nutritious, and good, and that’s more than enough for me.
Turmeric rice has become a bit of a staple around here, a dish I make for bowls, burritos, and a lot more. As it turns out, the rice works as nicely in a cohesive dish as it does as a side or a component of a meal. I changed the recipe slightly here: the onions are thinly sliced and caramelized, rather than chopped and sautéed, which adds a little more flavor to the dish. I increased some of the spices in order to flavor the beans and greens as well as the rice. And I finished the dish with both lemon and lime juice, so it’s a little more tart than my original recipe.
Once the rice is cooked, the rest of this meal is as easy as stirring in some cooked beans, wilting in spinach with an extra splash of water, and then seasoning to taste. If you use white basmati or long-grain white rice, the whole thing is ready in about 30 minutes. If you use brown basmati (or long-grain brown rice), it’ll take closer to 40, which isn’t bad for a complete meal. Serve the rice with yum sauce for a serious treat (and double the golden color), or top it with toasted nuts or seeds for some crunch.
- 1 tablespoon neutral vegetable oil such as grapeseed or refined avocado or coconut oil*
- 1 large or two small yellow or white onions halved and thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup white or brown basmati rice or long-grain white or brown rice, soaked in cold water for 10 minutes, rinsed, and drained before adding
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 3/4 teaspoon salt plus extra to taste
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 1/4 cups + 1/2 cup water divided, plus extra as needed
- 5 ounces baby spinach or chopped fresh spinach (about 5 cups)
- 1 1/2 cups cooked kidney beans or 1 can, drained and rinsed
- 1 tablespoon each freshly squeezed lime juice and lemon juice (or 2 tablespoons of either)
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup tightly packed chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
- 1/4 cup finely chopped green onion tops optional
- Yum sauce optional, for drizzling on top
- Heat the oil in a medium pot or a deep skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions. Caramelize the onions, stirring frequently, for 12-15 minutes, or until they’re a deep golden brown color. Add splashes of water as needed to prevent sticking. When the onions are ready, stir in the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant, stirring constantly.
- Add the rice, turmeric, cumin, coriander, salt, bay leaf, and water to the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cover. Simmer for 12-15 minutes (for white rice) or for 30-35 minutes (brown rice), or until the rice is tender.
- Pour in the extra 1/2 cup water, then add the spinach to the pot, piling it over the rice. Cover the pot again to allow the spinach to steam and wilt down for 2 minutes. Then, stir the spinach into the rice, so that it wilts down completely. (If you need to add a few splashes of additional water as you do this, go for it.) Finally, stir in the kidney beans, lemon and lime juice, and black pepper to your liking. Taste the rice, adjust seasonings as needed, then stir in the cilantro and green onion tops, if using. Serve drizzled with yum sauce if you like.
Leftover rice will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
In place of kidney beans, feel free to use black beans, pinto beans, black eyed peas, or chickpeas, and you can also play around with the greens. I like using spinach for one pot meals because it cooks so quickly, but chopped kale, chard and collards would all be great in the dish, too.
“I’d be more than happy with rice and beans.” This is something I’ve smilingly said to friends who are fretting about what to cook for a vegan when I come over or stay with them. I’m trying to assure them that I love simple food and that veganism isn’t complicated, but it’s a genuine statement about my tastes, too, because I love rice and beans in pretty much any form. This flavorful, colorful mixture will definitely be a new go-to for me.
Hope you enjoy it, too, and I’ll also be back later in the week to share a hearty, wintery, Mediterranean-inspired soup. Till then, be well.