Spanish Rice and Beans is a simple yet satisfying skillet dinner—full of sweet and smoky flavors and good-for-you, whole food ingredients.
I love a side of bright, red-orange, tomato-y Mexican rice with my burrito. And who doesn’t love a good paella? If Mexican rice and Paella met and had a kid, it would be this Spanish Rice and Beans dish.
It’s not quite a simple as Mexican-style Spanish rice—I’ve seen recipes so basic they call for little more than a can of diced tomatoes and some tomato paste. But it’s definitely simpler than your average paella. And rather than white Spanish bomba (paella) rice, we use common, whole grain brown rice here.
So while it’s not this and it’s not that, it is an absolutely a nutritious one-pan meal—complete with whole grain, beans and veggies—that’s full of sweet and smoky flavors. (A lot like my Smoky Vegan Rice and Black Beans recipe.)
How to Make Spanish Rice and Beans
This Spanish Rice and Beans recipe may not be the quickest thing you’ll cook all week, but it is quite simple. Just sliver, saute, deglaze, simmer. And wait. The waiting may be the hardest part. (I haven’t made this in the Instant Pot yet, but I’ll give that a go and post the directions in the future.)
Here’s how we get it done:
First, I like to sliver my onions and red pepper nice and thin, about ¼” or less. They’ll saute up quickly, and this makes it feel like an elegant paella dish to me. Plus it’s just plain pretty.
Second, as in my Mushroom Walnut Bolognese recipe, we brown our tomato paste to build flavor. I recommend just a few minutes in the recipe, but you can brown it even longer for more flavor.
Third, I like to deglaze the pan with ½ cup of vegan Spanish wine, like Bodegas Tempore for example. If you prefer not to cook with wine, you can substitute a tablespoon of good quality sherry vinegar and an extra ½ cup of water or stock.
Finally, we add the rice, liquid and beans, and let her simmer. This is where the waiting game begins. It it takes time and a little patience to let the brown rice to soak up the liquid—and all those amazing flavors.
Are Butter Beans and Lima Beans the Same Thing?
Spoiler alert—if you didn’t know this, butter beans and lima beans are the same thing! But I promise, they’re really tasty. If you haven’t tried one since you last spat one out in the third grade, give them another chance.
You could use another white bean here, like great Northern or cannellinis. But I love how these BIG butter beans look so beautiful with the slivered peppers and onion. Almost like a fancy paella. Almost.
If you like this whole food plant-based recipe, you might like my Smoky Vegan Rice and Beans, 1-Pot Curried Lentils, Healthy Vegan Chile Relleno, Easy Coconut Lime Rice, Easy Slow Cooker Black Beans, and Crispy Spicy Sushi Bowls.
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Spanish Rice and Beans
- 1 yellow onion slivered
- 4 cloves garlic smashed and minced
- 2 red, orange or yellow bell peppers slivered
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 1/2 cups short grain brown rice see notes
- 1 15 ounce can diced fire roasted tomatoes LIQUID RESERVED
- 1 15 ounce can butter beans (about 1 3/4 cups cooked. Or sub Great Northern or Cannelini beans. See notes)
- 1/2 cup red wine such as a vegan Spanish red wine like Bodegas Tempore (or sub 1-2 tablespoons good sherry vinegar + 1/2 cup of stock)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (or more to taste. Plus more for garnish if desired)
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (plus more for garnish if desired)
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- sea salt to taste
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 1/4 cups low sodium vegetable stock
- Heat 1 tablespoon of water or stock in a large skillet (about 2 1/2 quarts), over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and red pepper, and cook for 6-8 minutes or until soft.
- Move the vegetables to the side of the pan, and add the tomato paste to the center. Cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes.
- Stir in the cumin, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder and rice, and mix everything together. Cook for 1-2 minutes
- Add the tomatoes and sherry vinegar (or wine, if using), and deglaze the pan (scrape up any brown bits). Add the beans and the stock, and stir.
- Bring the rice and bean mixture a boil, then cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 55-60 minutes, or until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender. (It's okay if it's still a little moist.)
- Give the beans and rice a gentle stir, then cover again and let rest for 5 minutes. The rice will absorb a little more liquid as it sits. Don't over stir, or the rice will become mushy.