Spanish Rice and Beans uses pantry staples to create a nutritious and flavorful one pot meal. Vegetarian, gluten free, and a complete source of plant protein, this easy dinner will become a family favorite.
Why You’ll Love this Rice and Beans Recipe
You can’t beat a super simple, family-friendly recipe that leans on pantry staples. This one also comes together in one pot, making it the perfect weeknight recipe.
This classic Spanish dish is a total flavor fiesta both kids and adults will love. Plus, it makes for some of the BEST leftovers. (Truly, we’re enjoying it on repeat over here with zero complaints.)
I love topping Spanish Beans and Rice with parsley oil, which is a simple mix of fresh parsley, lemon juice, and olive oil. While totally optional, it adds bright, fresh flavor to turn this pantry meal into something truly exceptional.
Recipe Ingredients and Substitutions
Think of this rice and beans recipe more as a blueprint rather than steadfast set of instructions. Overall, it’s extremely versatile, which means there are myriad substitutions. Here’s what you need:
- White rice: It’s best to use a long-grain white rice here, such as jasmine or basmati. You can also use brown rice, which will up the nutrient ante.
- Canned beans: Oh the glory of the humble canned bean. The recipe calls for kidney beans, however feel free to use pinto beans instead.
- Aromatics: Onion and garlic form the foundation of this dish, however you can also throw in celery, bell pepper, or chopped carrots.
- Fire-roasted canned tomatoes: Another one of my go-to canned goods, fire-roasted tomatoes add smoky, umami depth. You can also use salsa, if that’s all you have on hand.
- Spices: Spanish food is known for delivering some serious flavor. In this recipe, I suggest chili powder, paprika, oregano, and cayenne for an extra dose of spice.
- Olives: I love finishing Spanish Beans and Rice with a bright, briny kick. Here, the olives and parsley oil add a fresh and flavorful finish.
The parsley oil is totally optional here, however I suggest using some fresh parsley as a garnish. It really gives the dish a lift in terms of brightness.
How to Make Spanish Rice and Beans:
Overall, this dish is pretty hands off. Some simple slicing and dicing is required on the forefront, but most of the magic happens as the mixture simmers. Here’s how it’s done:
Cook the Aromatics
Start by heating some olive oil in a large skillet with a fitted top over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion and cook 5 to 6 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic during the final minute.
Bloom the Spices
Cooking spices in hot oil helps unlock their full flavor potential. This process is called blooming, and it’s a game changing for building flavor. This only takes 1 to 2 minutes–any longer and you run the risk of the burning the spices.
Toast the Rice
Stir in the rice and let it cook for about 2 minutes, which helps deepen its flavor. The rice will begin turning translucent and smell super aromatic.
Add the Tomatoes, Beans, and Broth
The recipe calls for vegetable or chicken broth, however feel free to use water instead. You may just need a little extra salt, which you can adjust for at the end.
Simmer until Rice is Tender
Simmer the mixture, covered, for about 25 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Lastly, scatter the olives overtop and drizzle with parsley oil, if desired!
What Goes with Rice and Beans?
A major benefit of combining beans and rice is the amino acids they provide. On their own, beans and rice are incomplete proteins, meaning they lack some of the essential amino acids. Together, however, they complement one another and provide all nine essential amino acids. So essentially, this combination is equivalent to animal protein in terms of protein quality.
If we want to REALLY break down the details here, most grains are deficient in lysine, while beans are of the few plant foods rich in lysine. On the flip side, many beans provide only small amounts of the amino acid methionine, which is rich in most grains.
All of which is to say, Spanish Rice and Beans is as complete of a meal on it’s own as you can get. Of course you can add extra veggies like mushrooms, bell peppers, or greens, if you like. You can also toss in some sautéed shrimp, ground beef, or shredded rotisserie chicken to make it even more hearty.
Are Rice and Beans Good for You?
In addition to being a complete source of protein, this combo also offers fiber, B vitamins, and important minerals like zinc and selenium. And between the fiber and protein, this dish is super satiating and will help stabilize blood sugar in between meals. If you try this rice and beans recipe, be sure to snap a pic and tag #dishingouthealth on Instagram so I can see your beautiful creations. Also, follow along on Facebook and Pinterest for the latest recipe updates!
More Easy Rice Recipes:
Spanish Rice and Beans
- 1 Large Skillet
- 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 tsp. paprika
- 1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional for added heat)
- 2 cups long-grain white rice (such as jasmine or basmati)
- 1 (14.5-oz.) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes (sub 1 cup jarred salsa)
- 2 (15.5-oz.) cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 3 cups vegetable or chicken broth (sub water)
- 1/3 cup sliced green olives
Parsley Oil (optional)
- 3 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 1/2 tsp. lemon zest, plus 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- Heat oil in a large skillet with a fitted lid over medium. Add onion; cook 5 minutes, until softened. Add garlic, paprika, salt, chili powder, oregano, black pepper, and cayenne; cook 2 minutes, stirring often, until aromatic. Stir in rice; cook 2 minutes, until slightly translucent. Stir in tomatoes, beans, and broth (or water). Bring mixture to a boil, reduce to medium-low, and simmer, covered, until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare parsley oil (if using) by combining parsley, lemon zest and juice, and olive oil in a small bowl; stir well.
- Scatter olives over Spanish Beans and Rice and drizzle with parsley oil.