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Continuing the MSV tradition of posting a helpful staple recipe at the turn of the calendar, today you get beans and rice. It doesn't get much more basic for vegan food, and for good reason. The combination of legumes and grains is seriously satiating, and it's an easy to dish to bolster with veggies and keep fresh with various spices, not to mention bean varieties. And finally, all you need is a garnish to make a simple, blissfully affordable meal feel fully formed (and good enough to serve friends).

Pico de gallo or a sofrito are always welcome toppings, but it's winter. So, to today's combo of black beans, coriander, cumin, and smoked paprika, you'll add an equally satisfying and equally easy helping of roasted plantains. A tiny bit of seasoning is all they need before getting totally delicious in the oven. (My favorite source for plantains in town is El Girasol. They keep three big boxes in the produce section for plantains in various stages of ripeness—green, yellow, and nearly ripe—so you can buy them to suit your timeline.)

The whole thing makes for a great meal that comes together breezily. The rice cooks while the plantains roast, and the beans simmer on the stove with their seasoning while the rice cooks. As ever, you can certainly make your beans from scratch. You can save money, control the texture better, and get deeper flavor if you do. But canned beans are wildly convenient and allow you to put a hearty meal together on short notice. Either way, you're well fed.

Black Beans and Rice with Roasted Plantains

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serves 4-6

2 ripe plantains

2 tsp olive oil

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

pinch ground cayenne (optional)

pinch fine sea or kosher salt

2 cups water

1 no-salt-added vegetable bouillon cube

1 cup long-grain brown rice

2 15-oz cans black beans

1 small dried bay leaf

1 tsp smoked paprika

3/4 tsp ground coriander

3/4 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp fine sea or kosher salt

Heat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Peel and slice plantains into diagonal chips about 1/2-inch thick. Add slices to a mixing bowl with oil, cinnamon, cayenne (if using), and pinch salt. Toss gently with your hands until uniformly coated. Transfer to prepared baking sheet in one layer and bake 15-20 minutes on each side, or until tender and golden.

Meanwhile, heat water in a medium pan and dissolve bouillon cube into it. Carefully measure out a half-cup broth and set aside. Cover pot, bring to a boil, and add rice. Replace the cover, bring back to a boil, and reduce heat to low. Cook, undisturbed, 25 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed.

Add reserved half-cup broth to a small pan. Drain beans (do not rinse) and add to pot. Cover and heat over medium heat. Add bay leaf, paprika, coriander, cumin, and salt. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low with the lid cocked, and continue to simmer gently, stirring occasionally, while the rice and plantains cook. Five minutes before serving, remove beans from heat. They will remain saucy but thicken as they cool.

Serve beans over rice and garnish with plantain slices.