Rice and beans are one of those meals that can go from bland and boring to delectable and delicious with just a few ingredients. With the addition of a couple of vegetables and a bit of spice, a very plain side dish can quickly become a desirable main course. Most people generally think of the Cajuns or Latin Americans when they think of a flavorful recipe for rice and beans, but one spot on the map to not overlook is the Caribbean.
The islands in the Caribbean have a unique array of culinary influence. Varying from island to island, there is often a fusion of French, British, Mexican, Spanish and African flavors with one usually dominating the other, depending on the island.
I recently prepared this month’s recipe while on a sailing trip to the Caribbean with a group of friends. After sampling various styles of rice and beans on the islands of Antigua, Guadalupe, and Dominica, I did my best to replicate an authentic version, while only using the ingredients that I had available to me in the galley of the boat. The finished product was a hit with my fellow mates, and I was pleased with how easy it was to prepare a fairly authentic and healthy meal with such limited ingredients.
This recipe for rice and beans is an excellent source of protein and fiber. The addition of coconut milk adds a bit of sweetness and complexity, while also enhancing the nutritional quality. Coconut milk has gotten a bad rap over the years for its high levels of saturated fat; however, recent studies have shown it to actually aid in weight loss, while also enhancing the immune system and improving hair and skin. This recipe is great by itself, but I prefer it with a side salad, a little sliced avocado and my favorite hot sauce. Serves 6-8.
- 1 cup long grain white or brown rice
- 1 ½ cups water
- 1 can light coconut milk (divided in half)
- 1-2 tablespoons coconut or olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large tomato (or 2 Roma tomatoes), diced
- 1 can black beans, drained and washed
- ¼ cup water or vegetable stock
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar (optional)
- dash of hot sauce such as Frank’s or Cholula
- 1 cup chopped parsley or cilantro
- Place rice, water and half the can of coconut milk in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 15-20 minutes until the liquid is absorbed.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a sauté pan/skillet at medium-high heat. Add the onion, pepper, and garlic and sauté for a few minutes until it softens, stirring constantly.
- Add the black beans, water/stock, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper and the other half of the can of coconut milk. Bring to a light simmer (at medium-low heat) and cook for about 5-7 minutes until about half of the liquid has cooked off and the beans have thoroughly heated through.
- Add the vinegar (if desired), hot sauce and herbs to the beans, and either mix the beans thoroughly into the rice or simply serve them over top.
Calories: 210 / Fat: 6g / Saturated Fat: 4g / Carbohydrates: 34g / Fiber: 6g / Protein: 6g
Brandon McDearis is the owner of Your Way Cuisine, www.yourwaycuisine.com, a personal chef and nutrition consulting business. He is also a professional wanderer that spends much of his year trotting the globe and working in places such as Alaska, Australia, and Antarctica.