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Rice and Beans (Cuban Inspired)


A good rice and beans recipe is the perfect staple dish—easy to make, filling, delicious, and relatively inexpensive. I eat it as a meal all on its own, perhaps paired with mango, sliced avocado, or a tomato salad. It also makes a great side as part of a larger meal. Rice and beans tastes even better as leftovers, so make a big batch and have some all week.

This is what I came up with after searching the web for “arroz congrí” and “moros y cristianos” recipes. There are many deviations from the authentic dish, perhaps biggest is the use of canned beans instead of dried beans. The idea is to save significant time. The end result is still delicious (I think).


Rinse and drain rice I use Jasmine rice. But most types of medium-to-long grain rice should work. You may have to adjust liquid amounts and cooking times. repeatedly until water is mostly clear. Let soak for 20 minutes or more.

Prepare a spice blend of:

  • 2 parts dried oregano
  • 1 part cumin
  • ½ part spicy Hungarian paprika (optional)
  • a pinch of salt

Open cans of black beans. Drain bean-water into bowl—do not discard! Roughly 1 15oz can I find the amount of bean-water in a can to be inconsistent. If insufficient, you can open an extra can just for the bean-water, or make up the difference with stock. per 1 cup of dry rice.

Dice a cooking onion finely. I like to chop so finely that its texture is barely noticeable in the final dish. Mince a few cloves of garlic.

Heat large pot on high heat. Sauté onion in cheap olive oil until mostly cooked. Add garlic and cook for another couple minutes. Spread spice mix over top and cook for no more than 30 seconds.

Pour bean-water into pot. Drain rice, then add to pot. Add at least a little stock I use vegetable stock. Chicken stock also works. for flavor. Add more stock if the rice needs more liquid. This is admittedly the trickiest part of the recipe—judging the correct amount of liquid. The “finger method” is not advised due to the potential scalding temperatures of the liquid. Perhaps use another measure. Personally I stir the pot, then feel and eyeball the consistency until I know it is right.

Throw in a bay leaf (optional).

Bring to a boil, then cover. Turn heat to low. Let cook for 20 minutes.

Chop up cilantro (optional).

Remove lid from pot. Ensure all liquid has been absorbed—rice should feel fairly “dry.”

Pour beans evenly over top. Season beans with additional salt (optional). Squeeze half a lime over top. Pour in ¼ cup quality olive oil. Add cilantro.

Turn over rice until beans are evenly mixed in.

Taste. Add more lime and olive oil to taste. You probably can’t add too much olive oil.

When serving, drizzle olive oil on top. Include a slice of lime for a nice touch.

Ingredient list

  • Rice
  • Black beans (canned)
  • Dried oregano
  • Cumin
  • Spicy Hungarian paprika (optional)
  • Salt
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Cheap olive oil
  • Quality olive oil
  • Stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • Bay leaf (optional)
  • Cilantro (optional)
  • Limes


I tried a variation with tomato paste and didn’t care for the sticky, starchy texture. I do like a good “dirty” rice dish, but not with this particular set of ingredients. Rinsing the rice and heavy use of olive oil are in support of keeping the rice grains separate.

Similarly, I like distinctly different texture between the beans and the rice, hence saving the beans out and only combining everything at the end.

I suggest Hungarian paprika specifically just because it is easy to source and adds a nice spice profile to a dish. You can substitute with anything that adds background spiciness.