We’ve all been to the point where we’re eating beans and rice for a week until the next pay check. Heck, I’m doing that now, but I’ve been doing this long enough that doing so isn’t the end of everything any more. Beans and rice can be an integral part of a diet, and a cost saving cheat to get the most out of the grocery budget. So here are my 10 ways to spice up your beans and rice.
1. Pinto Beans and Mexican Rice
– this is the classic beans and rice combo: pinto beans and mexican rice. This combination is, I think, pretty good by itself and don’t need a lot of dressing up. Spice wise: beans can also use a little salt, pepper isn’t bad, but don’t add as much as you’d think. I love putting green chili in with the beans for a little extra flavor. The Mexican Rice, long grain rice browned, and cooked with cumin, salt and tomato sauce, is the flavor village here.
2. Black beans and Cilantro/lime rice
– this is another staple of quick and cheap beans and rice combinations. Here again the rice is where we find the most flavor. That’s not to say that the black beans don’t have a nice flavor themselves, but cilantro and lime together are an absolute unit. Always salt the black beans as it really reveals the flavor. Additionally, cumin, garlic, and a dash of cayenne pepper will make this shine. Unless you’re use to spice, be careful with the cayenne.
3. Refried pino beans
– once the rice has run out, it’s time to refry the beans. This makes them perfect for the basis of a burrito. Slowly mush the beans in a pan on medium-low with a fat/oil stirring until thick. Here you can add some additional flavors like garlic, onions, and peppers, or some spices, salt and pepper, garlic powder if you don’t have garlic, and chili powder. Once think they’re ready and will keep up to an additional week. Refried beans are still excellent with rice.
4. Refried black beans
– The unsung refried bean, refried black beans are an excellent way to spice up your beans and rice. They can be prepared the same way as pinto beans, and under the same circumstances. Additionally adding lime while it cooks down will add a spicy punch.
5. Red beans and Rice
– the Cajun wash day staple. Red beans and rice is a nice choice because, it can be entered at any price point, it takes all day to cook so it’s nice to start in the morning and return from work or class to a meal, and it freezes well. All that and it’s tasty as heck. Beyond the cajun classic is just a bountiful bean, which really does well with some pepper, white pepper if you have it, and some thyme.
6. Lentils and rice
– Lentils come is such a variety and with many colors that they’re always exciting. Beyond lentils and basmati rice, you can add lentils to a curry for a variety of both flavors and colors. For an more earthy palette, substitute brown or wild rice, though the wild rice will set you back a bit.
7. Black bean taco salad with rice
– This is a good quick meal between making beans and refrying them. Making a salad is a good way to get some greens and some variety in your diet. This is also an opportunity to make layers and eat from a bowl. Additionally, if you have toppings, this is where taco toppings go a long way and might be an easy way to get rid of a lot of condiments taking up space in the fridge.
8. Black-eyed peas and white rice
– another southern classic, black-eyed peas are not actually peas but beans and, made with white rice are commonly served with a steamed leafy vegetable. Salt goes a long way to expanding the flavor of black-eyed peas, and a vinegar based hot sauce will always help with flavor.
9. Black beans with ham
– black beans and ham were made to go together. Despite recently cutting out meat, I’m into this combination. Black beans can be produced similarly to cajun red beans and rice which honestly also just love ham. Similarly there is a Cuban method which uses sugar and vinegar to create a more Caribbean flavor.
– This is a new one for me, but chili goes great with rice as well. While already a hearty and thick stew, the addition of rice makes the power packed chili into a caloric generator. This could be useful to ensure there are enough calories going in, and a good way to use up rice laying around in the pantry.