Black beans are simmered up with cumin and lime, then served over rice with sweet pan-fried plantains to make this mouthwatering Cuban-inspired vegan meal.
I’m a bit jealous of the newest generation of vegetarians. I think it’s great and all to see more and more people adopting a plant-based lifestyle, but having given up meat myself around 1993, I see how easy the newly veganized have it, and there’s a touch of envy.
Back when I went veg Whole Foods was nearly unheard of, I didn’t know of any vegetarian restaurants, and if I wanted some tofu or other exotic ingredient I’d have to get mom to take me on one heck of a road trip. Then there was school. I wasn’t aware of any other vegetarians in my class and there was a bit of teasing and kids waving baloney in my face in the lunchroom while singing New Age Girl.
It was tough being a veggie kid in the nineties.
Even in my teens I loved to cook, so of course I signed up for all the cooking classes. During a regional foods lesson one day another student was covering the American south and brought in a bunch of collard greens. That got me excited. My excitement grew throughout the preparation of the greens, up until that sad, sad point (to me) when the student doused them in bacon grease.
I didn’t bother with collard greens after that, thinking bacon grease had some kind of exclusive license to them…until well into the 2010’s when my husband told me about an amazing dish a friend made for him a while back involving collard greens with rice, beans and plantain chips. “No bacon grease required.” He informed.
I’ve recreated that dish for this post. I’m relieved to say that it turned out to be bowl-licking scrumptious, adding a new and delicious meal to my recipe collection and giving me what I’d like to consider something of a happy ending to my high school woes.
The fried plantains add some amazing sweetness and texture to this dish, but if you’re looking for a quick weeknight dinner, you could skip them and the meal will still be delicious.
Cuban-Inspired Black Beans and Rice with Collard Greens and Pan-Fried Plantains
- 1 cup long grain rice, see my note
- 1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil, divided
- 2 ripe plantains, sliced about 1 inch thick
- 1/2 medium red onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 14 ounce can or 1 3/4 cups cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1/2 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 small bunch of collard greens, about 6 leaves slices into strips
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Cook the rice according to package directions.
- In large nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, arrange the plantain slices in a single layer and cook about 5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Work in batches if needed, and add oil to the skillet between batches if it dries up. Transfer the cooked plantain slices to a dish covered with a paper towel, to drain any excess oil.
- Heat remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in the same skillet over medium heat.
- When the oil is hot, add the onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.
- Add garlic and cook for another minute, until very fragrant. Add beans, broth, lime juice, cumin, coriander, and paprika. Simmer until most of the liquid has cooked off, which should take 5-10 minutes.
- Add the collard greens to the skillet and simmer just until wilted, about another 3 minutes, adding a few tablespoons of water if the bean mixture gets too thick. Remove from heat and stir in the cilantro, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Divide rice onto dishes, and top with bean mixture and plantains. Garnish with some extra cilantro if you'd like.
Basmati rice works really well with this recipe. Last time I made this I simmered the basmati rice in 1 cup of water + 3/4 cup light coconut milk, and it was awesome.