Easy Vegetarian|Vegan Black Beans & Rice Casserole

Cuban black beans & rice, with celery, pepper, garlic, onion & spices

Cuban Black Beans and Rice

Black Beans & Rice Casserole is a vegan version of Moros et Cristianos (Moors & Christians), a cuban recipe in which the black beans are cooked with the white rice.

Cuban food blends Mexican, Spanish, Caribbean, and even Chinese influences. I don't know how authentically Cuban this recipe is, but it is authentically delicious!

According to Three Guys from Miami, "In Cuba, you'd NEVER see a meal served without black beans and rice!".

Total Prep & Cook Time: 90 min.

6 Large Servings main dish, 8 servings side dish

Nutrition Data Per Serving: 209 cal, fat calories 30, 37g carb, 3g fat, 189 mg sodium, 7g fiber, 9g protein. Low cholesterol. High in Vit.C, Thiamin, Folate, Magnesium. Estimated glycemic load 17.


  • 1 cup dried black beans OR 2 cans drained and rinsed black beans, liquid reserved
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked long grain brown rice OR instant long grain brown rice
  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil
  • 2 stalks celery, trimmed and diced
  • 1 cup diced sweet onion
  • 1 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 3 - 4 cloves fresh garlic, peeled, stemmed and minced
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  • 1 tsp minced fresh ginger (1 thin slice, peeled)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp gr coriander
  • 1 tsp oregano leaves
  • Optional: 1/8 - 1/4 tsp dried chipotle pepper
  • For the Bean Sauce:
  • 1 1/2 cups bean cooking water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 unsalted vegetable bouillon cube
  • Optional: 1 tsp liquid smoke (I used Figaro brand, which I got at our local grocery store)
  • 1 Tbsp Braggs liquid aminos or soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted tomato paste
  • Optional: 1/4 tsp salt or to taste (not included in nutrition data)
  • 6 Tbsp fresh minced cilantro for garnish
  • 1 lime sliced in 6 wedges, to serve with the rice & beans
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Bean Cooking Directions:

  1. Stovetop: Soak the beans for 6 - 8 hours in cold water. Drain the beans, add cold water to cover, bring to a boil, skim foam, cover and simmer 1 - 2 hours until just tender
  2. Slow Cooker: After soaking, boiling & skimming the foam, drain beans and add to cooker with cold water to cover. Cover and cook on low for 6 - 8 hours, just until tender. Add 1/4 tsp salt to keep the beans from splitting and breaking apart when cooking.
  3. Note: Black beans and white kidney (cannellini) beans contain the toxin phytohennagglutenin. Red kidney beans contain a much higher amount. You can get rid of the toxin, through long soaking (12 - 24 hours), with 2 or 3 changes of water, then boiling the beans (skimming the foam) for 10 - 15 minutes before adding to the crockpot. It's a good idea to preheat the crockpot on high before adding the beans. More info on cooking black beans without toxins. Also watch our video, Basic Bean Cooking (with Kidney Beans and Black Eyed Peas) and see our basic bean cooking recipe
  4. Pressure Cooker: Soak the beans 12 hours and rinse. Add rinsed beans to pressure cooker with cold water to cover about 1/2 inch above the beans. Bring to a boil and skim the foam. Add 1/4 tsp salt if desired to keep the beans intact while cooking. Lock the pressure cooker lid, bring up to high pressure, reduce heat to low and cook for 9 minutes. Cook for another 2 or 3 minutes if the beans are not completely cooked. Remove from heat and allow pressure to release slowly (takes about 10 minutes).

Bean Sauce Directions:

  1. Drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid
  2. Add the beans, 1 1/2 cups cooking liquid, bay leaf, bouillon cube, liquid smoke, Braggs or soy sauce, tomato paste, salt if desired
  3. If you're using canned beans, drain the beans and rinse them, BUT RESERVE THE LIQUID!
  4. Simmer the bean sauce while you prep the veggies and parboil the rice
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Long Grain Brown Rice Cooking Directions:

  1. Wash and rinse the rice twice, draining well
  2. Add to 2 qt saucepan with 2 1/4 cups cold water
  3. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 30 minutes
  4. Remove brown rice from heat and set aside. It should be chewy, and all water absorbed at this point

Cuban Rice & Black Beans Directions:

While the bean sauce is simmering and the rice is cooking:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Heat 1 Tbsp cooking oil on medium low in a dutch oven or sauté pan (oven proof) on top of the stove
  3. Chop the garlic, onion, ginger, pepper & celery
  4. Stir fry the veggies until the onion is translucent
  5. Add the spices and oregano and stir for 2 more minutes
  6. Add the brown rice and mix with the veg
  7. Stir the beans and sauce into the rice and veg
  8. Cover, transfer to the preheated oven, and bake for 30 minutes
  9. Serve immediately, garnished with chopped cilantro and lime wedges
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Recipe Tips:

Cooking time doesn't include the bean cooking time, which varies from about 10 minutes in the pressure cooker to 8 hours crockpot or slow coooker

This black bean recipe was adapted from Cooks Illustrated Magazine: What I liked about their recipe was the idea of baking the dish in the oven. But the author threw in a lame vegetarian option - leave out the bacon and add tomato paste. I couldn't resist the challenge. I used brown instead of white rice, more seasonings, and changed the cooking method to make a tasty vegan version.

If you can, cook your own black beans, because the cooking liquid is an important part of the recipe. If you use canned beans, reserve the liquid to add to the sauce. You many need to reduce the Braggs or soy sauce or skip adding salt, with canned beans.

Brown rice has a long cooking time, so I parboiled it first to avoid overcooking the beans and veggies. If you prefer, use quick cooking brown rice, and no pre-cooking, although the texture isn't as good.

For this recipe, you'll need a heavy bottomed dutch oven or sauté pan that can go from the stovetop into the oven. Or you can finish cooking this dish on the stove if you don't mind the rice sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Menu Suggestions:

This dish is delish served with steamed or stir fried veggies, or green salad. Add some fried tofu, or seitan on the side for extra protein.

Tamales would be traditional with this dish, but if you can't manage that, corn tortillas would work. Salsa Fresca would be a nice addition, and Cuban cooking is eclectic enough to include Italian polenta, or even French bread!

Recipe Comments:

Thank you for having this recipe on your website! I did not have cilantro or lime but it still turned out great! Normally my husband does not like rice dishes and he had 2 servings of this! Thank you again! - Erin J-W.

Q: This looked good, and I bought all the stuff, but hadn't read to the end where it says to put it in the oven. It has been very hot and very muggy here for 10 days, and will continue in this pattern for at least another week. I do not want to light the oven! Can this be done in a slow cooker if I add the rice towards the end? (I can put the cooker outdoors.) Thanks - Harriet R.

A: I don't see why you couldn't make this in the slow cooker. 4 - 6 hours on low is my guess for time. Sauteing the veggies in oil according to the recipe, before adding to the crockpot, will speed up cooking. You could add raw rice at the start, or cooked rice about 1/2 hour before the end of cooking. - Judith K. Savvy Vegetarian

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