Serve a Rice and Black Bean Bowl warm or cold, with or without cheese. This colourful and tasty dish is loaded with healthy ingredients with a zesty dressing. It can be customized to include ingredients you love and what you’ve got on hand. Not a fan of vegetarian dishes? Add some grilled meat. It’s totally up to you.
There’s a TV show called The Best Thing I Ever Ate. I would never be able to narrow it down to one thing but there are some standout dishes I’ve had over the years that would make it on the list. This Rice and Black Bean Bowl is one of those things. I can’t say exactly why but maybe because it surprised me. I didn’t expect to like it.Jump to Recipe
One of my coworkers was leaving to go to a new job and a few of us were taking her out for lunch. A new vegan restaurant had opened up nearby and she wanted to check it out. I have to admit I was a little nervous since I’m basically a “meatatarian.” Was I ever surprised.
I ordered a Rice and Black Bean Bowl. They had non vegan options so this one included feta cheese. I was served this huge bowl of colourful healthy ingredients that actually tasted good. In fact it was great! I made a mental note of the ingredients and taste and was finally able to recreate those flavours in this recipe. It took me a few versions before I was happy but this tastes just like I remember.
Who doesn’t love a recipe that can be customized to your favourite ingredients and flavours? That’s the beauty of rice bowls. You can include components you like and what’s in the fridge. This one has some ingredients and flavours similar to Mexican dishes and I’ve seen other recipes like this referred to as Burrito Bowls. No matter what you call it, this Rice and Black Bean Bowl has a lot going on in the colour, texture, temperature and flavour department. Not to mention the nutritional value.
What goes in a Rice and Black Bean Bowl?
There’s more to this than rice and beans. Tomatoes, peppers and avocados are important components. Grape or cherry tomatoes have the best flavour unless tomatoes are in season. If you’ve got some growing outside your door, use them. There’s feta cheese which works well with the tanginess of the lime. Then there’s cilantro. I could eat it by the handful but lots of people can’t. Some fresh chopped parsley is a great substitute. And if you like some heat, jalapeño peppers are great because they’re not too hot. Can’t do raw onion? Leave it out. The key to making a great Rice and Black Bean Bowl is to fill it with colourful healthy ingredients that you like.
Normally rice bowls, grain bowls and other similar dishes are served without meat but you could include some if you like. In fact, a seared steak sliced into thin strips or a grilled chicken breast would be an awesome addition if you wanted to add extra protein. Make extra dressing and use it as a marinade for the meat before cooking.
So where is all this awesome flavour coming from? The dressing. I should have just asked the server at the restaurant what was in the dressing instead of having to make this multiple times to get it right. Wait. I guess that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The fresh lime juice is what gives it that zesty tartness with fresh garlic and spices. You don’t need much but I like to add some to the black beans while I’m prepping the rest of the ingredients, then drizzling more over the bowl when serving.
Rice and Black Bean Bowls can be served warm or cold. I like mine warm. Get all your ingredients ready while the rice is cooking, heat the black beans in the microwave with a bit of the dressing, then either arrange everything in an artful fashion or mix it all together in a big bowl. It doesn’t really matter. Pretty or messy, it all tastes the same.
Here’s the recipe:
Rice and Black Bean Bowl
- 2 cups cooked rice
- 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained 540 ml or 19 oz
- ¼ red onion, finely sliced
- 1 sweet red pepper, sliced or chopped
- 1-2 avocados, sliced or chopped 1 large or 2 small
- 16-20 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 jalapeño pepper, finely diced optional
- large handful fresh cilantro or parsley
- 100 grams feta cheese, crumbled about 3½ oz
- 2 Tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice 1 large or 2 small limes
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large garlic clove, finely minced
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp chili powder
- ½ tsp honey or sugar
- fresh cracked black pepper
- Combine dressing ingredients and whisk well or shake in a jar.
- Cook rice according to manufacturer's instructions. Alternatively, reheat precooked rice.
- Rinse and drain black beans. Add a few spoonfuls dressing, toss and heat in microwave until warm.
- Prep remaining ingredients. Divide ingredients between 4 pasta sized bowls. Arrange in sections or stir everything together.
- Top with dressing and combine.
- Serve with lime wedge and extra parsley or cilantro if desired.