Wait, what? What do you mean you can’t drop everything and fly with us to the tropics right now?
Okay, well, you’ve got a point there. Who’s going to run our meal plan service if we’re too busy noshing on fried plantains, fresh seafood, and lots of tropical fruits?
So maybe it’s not very realistic to head to the Caribbean right this instant. But that doesn’t mean you can’t eat like you’re in Jamaica right now. All it takes is 30 minutes until you get a taste of the tropics. And even less time for the rich coconut-y smell to permeate your house!
We created this Caribbean-inspired side dish for whenever we wanted a little “getaway” to a tropical island, and this recipe for Coconut Rice and Beans is perfect for achieving that vacation feel.
Known as “rice and peas” in many of the Caribbean islands, this simple side dish is made up of rice stewed in coconut milk, which adds a luxurious rich flavor instead of the standard water or stock. (Although we cut the calories a bit and use half coconut milk and half stock. You can still indulge in the richness of coconut milk with a smaller amount! That’s what we do whenever we want to enjoy the taste of a traditional dish but with fewer calories.)
Aromatics and spices up the flavor even more, while kidney beans add bulk to the rice, making it an absolutely satisfying dish – for both your tastebuds and your belly. Not only is this dish flavorful, it’s also fluffy, light, and at the same time, hearty and filling.
Naturally, we like to serve Coconut Rice and Beans with some Jerk Chicken, but we admit it – you’ll catch us mixing cuisines more often than not by making this side dish to eat with anything. . .because it’s too easy and delicious not to!
Now are you ready? Let’s go to the Caribbean!
For More Smarts:
- Feel free to use either jerk seasoning or Cajun seasoning, whichever you already have on hand.
- The combo of rice plus beans makes this dish a complete protein.
We love a good one-pot meal! Easy to make and little to clean. All you need for this recipe is a Dutch oven like this one:
For more kitchen and equipment and tool smarts, visit our ‘Essential Kitchen Cookware and Tools’
- Kidney beans (14 oz / 397 g can) – 1 can, rinsed and drained
- Garlic – 2 cloves, minced
- Coconut milk – 1 cup
- Bay leaves – 1
- Jerk or Cajun seasoning – 1 tsp
- Rice, long-grain – 1 cup
- Chicken stock – 1 cup
- Salt – 1/4 tsp
- Beans – Rinse and drain.
- Garlic – Prep as directed. (Can be done up to 3 days ahead)
- Heat a Dutch oven or non-stick pot over medium-high heat for rice and beans. Pour in coconut milk, garlic, bay leaves, and jerk or Cajun seasoning. Bring to a simmer and then add rice, chicken stock, and salt. Cover and bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until rice has absorbed all the liquid. Fold in beans.
- Remove bay leaves from rice and enjoy with your main dish, preferably Jerk Chicken Thighs!