25 Tasty Ways to Enjoy Beans and Rice
Hailed by nearly everyone on the planet as one of the most frugal food pairings you can choose, beans and rice form the basis of staple recipes from many different countries. So why do some of us avoid sitting down to eat them so often? Well, part of it probably has to do with the way we may have been raised to view this particular type of meal. When you grow up eating a predominately meat and potatoes diet, transitioning to beans can feel like you’re giving something up. Here are 25 truly tasty ways to enjoy beans and rice on a regular basis. (See also: 5 Cheap and Easy Cuban Food Recipes)
1. Alternative Risottos
Trying some risotto options will definitely take things to the next level. For example, this kale and red bean risotto from the New York Times is certainly stylish enough to pair with a nice bottle of wine and mesclun salad, as is this fun fava bean risotto with mozzarella and prosciutto.
2. Gluten-Free Korean Pancakes
These Korean pancakes made with a batter of blended beans and rice are a tasty way to keep things interesting at the dinner table. They’re affordable, veg heavy, and suitable for snacking and dipping as well as a mealtime menu item.
3. Caribbean Pigeon Peas
If you’re already a fan of Caribbean food, then this idea will be familiar to you. You can use it as a side dish or enjoy it on its own for a light lunch or snack. This recipe for rice with pigeon peas from Trinigourmet.com has an affordable list of ingredients you can easily find in your grocery store. The use of coconut milk makes it a rich treat suitable for serving to company.
4. Mediterranean Dilled Crepes With Rice and Beans
This recipe for dilled crepes with rice and fava beans from Taste of Beirut appears both elegant and filling. Fresh ingredients are central to Lebanese cooking, so having your own dill growing in the garden will go a long way towards your success with this meal plan.
5. Spicy Black Beans With Shrimp Fried Rice
One of my favorite black bean recipes is the simplest one. It comes from my favorite Mexican restaurant, Café Noche, which is located in Conway, New Hampshire. Basically, they mix freshly cooked black beans with homemade hot pepper jelly for an easy side dish that the restaurant pairs with a variety of selections. For a fun easy dinner at home, try combining this same dish with a batch of shrimp fried rice. It’s easy, and if you make it with salad shrimp, quite cheap.
6. Smoky Pinto and Brown Rice Soup
I first tried this type of soup at our local Sweet Tomatoes restaurant recently. It was rustic, flavorful, and clearly an affordable recipe to try at home. So I started digging around online, which is where I found this vegan pinto bean and rice soup recipe that’s also suitable for the gluten-free crowd. You could pair this with cornbread and top with chopped scallions or other fun soup garnishes to make an extra-hearty meal.
7. Burrito Bowls
One of my favorite ways to enjoy beans (and rice and frugal food in general) is to explore international cuisines on a regular basis. If you need some easy inspiration, try having dinner at your nearest Chipotle Grill and ordering one of their vegetarian burrito bowls with a scrumptious side of guacamole. You can order them with either brown or white rice, and your choice of pinto or black beans along with sautéed mixed peppers, spicy salsas, and other toppings. They're definitely an easy creation to try on your own at home. If you feel like you need more carbs, use some tortillas to create your own burritos, which are also standard fare at this organic restaurant chain.
8. Dal: Beans and Rice With Indian Flair
Lentils and beans are exceptionally cheap weight loss foods and allow you to explore a world of decadent flavors without feeling particularly guilty about it. And Indian food is widely acknowledged to have one of the most pleasing arrays of flavors. This recipe for curried chickpea dal is just one example, but there are many others you can try.
9. Cajun Red Beans and Rice
Inexpensive to make and suitable for both lunch and dinner, red beans and rice is stick-to-your-ribs good food. This recipe from the Bitten Word will get you started. If you are able, consider pairing with some shrimp skewers and a batch of hurricane cocktails for an affordable backyard dinner party.
10. Chilled Beans and Rice Salad
There are several ways you can go with this particular seasoning idea, but let’s begin with this bean salad recipe created with salsa, corn, green onions, black beans, and rice. Pair it with grilled chicken drumsticks or barbecue riblets and a fun, easy dessert.
11. Low-Fat Mung Bean and Rice Pilaf With Turmeric
To tell you the truth, I just tried this for fun the other evening when I was out of cashews and wanted to make my favorite veggie stir fry. I happened to have an abundance of both mung beans and rice kicking around in the pantry, so I decided to whip up a combo batch of both in the rice cooker. I used two parts rice to one part mung beans and seasoned with a couple of spoonfuls of turmeric for color. This gave me my necessary protein, and I was able to skip all of the fat grams I would have had from adding several handfuls of the pre-planned cashews. From there it was just a matter of stir-frying a few veggies and adding a dash or two of tamari. It's definitely a vegan on the cheap type of recipe and fairly easy to make.
12. Hoppin’ John
Considered good luck to eat at the start of any new year, hoppin’ John is a beans and rice dish made with black eyed peas that can be served with collard greens for an affordable, filling dinner menu. If you don’t like the idea of including ham or bacon for the flavor, try adding a bit of liquid smoke.
13. Chili and Rice With a Toppings Bar
You can use regular or vegetarian chili heated in a crock pot alongside a pot of cooked rice and your topping selections of choice. Shredded cheese, scallions, chopped onions, and individual guacamole servings are a few fun places to start, but you can use other items if you like. Serve with margaritas, iced tea, or your favorite brew.
14. Sticky Rice Balls With Beans
One of my favorite food experiences in East Asia is dipping hand-held balls of sticky rice into flavorful sauces. If you use the mung bean and rice combo idea above when you make sticky rice, then your options for dipping sauces are wide open. Additionally, these Chinese dessert rice balls stuffed with sweet red bean paste can be a nice thing to serve for a special event.
15. Vegetarian Paella
While you might think strictly of seafood when the subject of paella arises, the truth is there are several versions of vegetarian paella that include beans and rice as their main ingredients. The other ingredients are quite traditional, which means you’ll still feel like you’re enjoying the essence of Spain when you sit down to eat. Looking for a budget beverage? Try using boxed wine to create a stylish sangria.
16. Saffron Rice With Peas and Garbanzo Beans
The rich yellow of saffron rice combined with peas and beans brings a bold statement to the dinner table. Use it as a side dish and paired with grilled meat and veggie kabobs to round out the meal. This recipe is meant to be a simple solution to dinner woes, so try to not to make it too complicated.
17. West African Beans and Rice
This West African beans and rice recipe calls for very few ingredient, but certainly delivers on spice. Trying serving fresh fruit for dessert to lighten things up.
18. Beans and Rice Biryani
Biryani is hands down one of my favorite dishes of all time. I don’t get a chance to enjoy it that often, but when I do, I always appreciate it. This beans and rice biryani from Mistress of Spices is flavorful, vegetarian, stylish, and inexpensive.
19. Bean and Rice Casseroles
Having some casseroles in the freezer is a sure way to remain prepared for the temptation to give in to take out options. Two basic options are this pinto bean and rice casserole from Taste of Home (love them) and this cheesy rice and bean casserole from the people at Weight Watchers.
20. White Rice With Mango and Black Bean Salsa
You can serve these low-fat partners with grilled fish or on their own. Either way, you’ll have an affordable meal that’s strong on nutrition and flavor. You could even mix the mango and black bean salsa with the rice to create a type of summer salad. I like to keep my mango salsa simple and use only mango, black beans, red onions, jalapenos, cilantro, red pepper, and a squeeze of lime.
21. Middle Eastern Fava Beans
This type of bean is prevalent in Middle East food, so if you have access to an Arab food market, you should be in business. Rather than the typical basic bean dish with bread, serve this recipe for fava beans with potatoes and saffron rice for a selection that’s hearty and sophisticated.
22. Tuscan Bean and Rice Soup
This Tuscan bean and rice soup might be basic with its ingredients, but it definitely celebrates the flavors of one of the most popular regions of Italy. Serve with a rustic, crusty bread and bottle of white table wine. Since it’s fairly low in calories, you might just be able to squeeze in a little tiramisu for dessert.
23. Protein-Rich Crepes
Combining moist rice and mung beans into a crepe batter allows you to enjoy the nutritional benefits of beans and rice without actually having them be obvious on the plate. You’ll have countless options for filling your crepes, and a dinner idea suitable for the gluten-free diners in your life.
24. Veggie Burgers
There are more veggie burger recipes online than one could ever hope to include in a single resource, so I’ll simply feature this recipe that also includes beets. Inspired by a popular restaurant, these veggie burgers can be mixed and match with a variety of menu plans.
25. Vietnamese Black-Eyed Pea and Sweet Rice Pudding
As with the Chinese rice balls with red bean paste, this black eyed pea and sweet rice pudding showcases the types of alternative recipes for this pair of pantry staples.
I think it’s clearly safe to say that beans and rice for dinner doesn’t have to mean you’re in for a boring meal.