When I was in college, I used to buy the boxes of Spanish/Mexican Rice with the seasoning packets in them so all you had to do was follow the instructions. As a carb lover (and with a better metabolism than I do now), there were days that I could polish off a whole box of rice for a meal. I know it says serves 2 or 4 or however many. It didn’t matter. I love my rice and carbs. No judgement please.
Anyways, over the years, I started experimenting on my own as I became more familiar in the kitchen besides using boxed “instant” foods. As I did, I learned what I liked, what I didn’t, and how to change that. One of my “ah-ha” moments was when I didn’t have any tomato sauce to add and the closest thing to a tomato based product I had in my tiny apartment was a jar of salsa. My rice was already cooking so I decided, why not. It was the.best.decision.ever!
The flavor that jar of salsa added was unbelievable! I’ve changed around a few ingredients since then but that jar of salsa has been an unwavering element in this recipe.
The changes I made? I substituted brown rice in place of white. Sure it takes longer to cook but you can put together this dish in the instant pot in half the time, or just let it simmer over the stove top with a timer. When it’s this good, it’s worth the wait! Additionally, you get more fiber, magnesium, and quite a few other vitamins and minerals compared to white rice. If I’m going to eat rice, I’m going to make it count!
The other major change I did was to add black beans to this dish. Check out these amazing benefits of black beans:
- Combined with rice, black beans help make this dish a complete protein which is important for those who are on a vegetarian or vegan diet
- 1 cup of black beans provides approximately:
- 15 gm protein
- 15 gm fiber
- 64% DRI Folate
- 20% DRI Iron
Have leftovers? No worries. I used them to make bean and rice burritos for the kiddos and they loved it! I love upcycling my foods!
From my kitchen to yours, I hope you enjoy this delicious plate of Mexican Rice and Beans!
Mexican Rice with Black Beans
- 2 - 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 cup long grain brown rice
- 1 ½ c vegetable broth
- ¾ c jarred salsa
- 2 tsp garlic, minced
- 1 jalapeño, finely chopped
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
- Heat a larger, wide saute pan on medium-high heat. Add olive oil and let it warm up.
- Add the onions and bell peppers and sauté for approximately 3-4 minutes. Add in the garlic and jalapeño and cook for 30 seconds to let the flavors bloom.
- Add rice, broth, salsa, cumin and paprika. Stir, then bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer for about 40 minutes until the rice is cooked.
- Once the rice is cooked, stir in the drained/rinsed beans. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes covered.
- Garnish with cilantro and serve hot as a main or side dish
**For the Instant Pot:
Follow the above instructions to step 3, then cover the instant pot, set on Pressure Cook mode for 24 minutes. Once the timer goes off, NPR (natural pressure release) for 5 minutes, then change the valve to vent and let out any remaining steam before opening the instant pot.
Stir in the black beans and cover lid loosely for another 5 minutes.
Garnish with cilantro and serve hot.
Here are the tools I used (I’ve made this both in the Instant Pot and over the stove so I’m including both types of vessels below):