For as long as I can remember, there was always a bowl of soaking beans in the kitchen of my childhood home. This side dish was almost a daily occurrence, along with the gentle hissing of my mother’s stovetop pressure cooker.
I have fond memories of her chopping up peppers and onions almost to the rhythm of the release valve dancing in place.
And soon enough, she’d place a heaping bowl of steaming hot beans coated in her special sofrito in the middle of the table. Along with a healthy portion of perfectly salted white rice, it was more than enough to satisfy.
This follows my mom’s original recipe as best as I can remember, and it tastes like home.
You’ll want to make sure that if you are using dried legumes, clean them fully and get rid of any grit or dirt that might be lurking in the bag (and be sure to read our article on reducing pesky gas!).
You can use canned legumes instead, and I often have. Being a mother of three doesn’t leave me with much extra time on my hands, so pulling out a can works in a pinch.
But between you and me, there’s something that feels just a touch more heartwarming when you transform them from their dried state into something so filling and nutritious for your loved ones.
I take such pride in placing that bowl on my table now. And yes, on occasion, I’ll use one of my mother’s serving bowls from so long ago.
As for the vegetable mixture, otherwise known as sofrito, you’ll want to cook the vegetables down until they are just a bit tender, but not too much. They’ll continue to cook down later on.
In this dish, we use red onions, as they add a hint of sweetness. But feel free to use white or Vidalia onions instead. Dice them into small cubes, so they will easily be distributed throughout the dish.
Green peppers or red? The truth is, I have used both. There is a slight flavor difference between the two.
I think red peppers have a bit more of a kick, and the green variety has a gentler taste profile. But both look gorgeous in this dish. Maybe we’ll try yellow peppers next time.
You should be able to find a bouillon cube easily. We use the chicken version, but the beef flavor works in this dish as well.
As for the rice, give the grains a thorough washing and remove as much starch as you can before cooking. The water should run clear.
During the cooking process, a little salt goes a long way. Be sure to fluff the grains with a fork once they’re cooked, to avoid clumping.
If you’re like me and you’re trying to lose that little bit of extra weight caused by having children (but they’re worth it!), you might want to omit the rice, or exchange it for a whole grain instead.
The flavorful beans are delicious served alone, or you can pile a few spoonfuls over lightly oiled spinach, or a simple arugula salad. You’ll still get to appreciate the delectable taste and excellent nutrition, without the carbs.
Feel free to make a large batch and store the rest in the fridge in an airtight vessel. It should keep for up to a week. Or, divide into portions and store in the freezer.Print
This is a classic, nutritious dish that’s full of flavor, which makes it the perfect comfort food. It’s fantastic as a side, and even better as a main course.
- 16 ounces dried kidney beans (or 4 15-oz cans)
- 4 quarts warm water (128 fl oz)
- 1 small red onion, diced (about ½ cup)
- 1 medium green bell pepper, or your choice of color, diced (about 1 cup)
- 1 ripe Roma tomato, chopped (about ½ cup)
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- 1 chicken bouillon cube (about 2 tbsp)
- 1 teaspoon ground smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
- 2 cups long grain white rice
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- Clean and rinse dried kidney beans, removing any debris.
- Soak in 4 quarts warm water for at least 8 hours before cooking.
- Reserve 11 cups of the water for cooking, and discard the rest. Rinse and drain beans, and set aside.
To Make Sofrito and Pressure Cook:
- Add the onion, bell pepper, tomato, garlic, and 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to a medium-sized saute pan, and place over medium heat. Saute for 4 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Add 1 cup reserved water, bouillon cube, smoked paprika, ground cumin, and black pepper.
- Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and set pan aside for 2 minutes.
- In either a stove-top or electric pressure cooker, add drained beans and 6 cups reserved water.
- Transfer vegetable mixture to pressure cooker. Stir. Secure lid and cook for 20 minutes. Allow pressure to release naturally.
To Cook Rice and Finish Dish:
- Meanwhile, coat a large, heavy pot with remaining vegetable oil and place over medium heat. Add rice and salt.
- Saute rice for 2 minutes until slightly toasted, then add 4 cups water and mix well. When water starts to gently boil, cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 20 minutes.
- Uncover rice and fluff thoroughly with a fork.
- Fold rice and beans together in the pot or in a large bowl, using a rubber spatula.
- Sprinkle cilantro on top and serve.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Category: Grains, Legumes
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Side Dish
Keywords: rice, beans, beans and rice, kidney beans
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Soak
First, thoroughly clean the dried kidney beans, removing any grit or debris. Rinse in a colander to remove any remaining dust or grit, then place them in a large stockpot or mixing bowl, and cover with about two inches of water.
To speed up your prep time, you can use a canned option instead. If you choose to do this, opt for unsalted kidneys if you can find them, and rinse them well before using. For a detailed guide on the difference between canned and dried, check out this article.
The beans should be softer to the touch after a thorough soaking. Drain them in a colander and set it aside. To save water, I reserve 11 cups of the water that I used for soaking to use throughout the recipe. If you start with canned, you will need 11 cups of water total for cooking.
Also, never store soaked legumes, as they’ll spoil. Once soaked, you’ll need to cook them right away or freeze them in airtight containers.
Step 2 – Prepare Vegetable Mixture
This type of vegetable mixture is commonly referred to as sofrito. In a medium-sized pan, saute the onion, green pepper, tomato, and garlic in 1 tablespoon vegetable oil on medium heat for 4 minutes.
Be sure to stir constantly, so all the ingredients incorporate fully, and nothing sticks to the pan.
Slowly add one cup of water, while stirring.
With a spoon, swirl the bouillon cube against the bottom of the pan to break it down faster.
Add the smoked paprika, ground cumin, and black pepper. Stir to combine. Let the mixture simmer for five minutes.
Step 3 – Pressure Cook
In a stovetop or electric pressure cooker, mix the sofrito and the soaked and drained kidney beans together gently with 6 cups reserved water. Secure the lid and cook for 20 minutes.
For safety reasons, we advise allowing the pressure to release naturally.
Step 4 – Cook Rice
While that’s cooking, toss the grains with the salt and remaining oil to coat, and saute it briefly in a large pot over medium heat. This will add another layer of flavor.
Stir for about two minutes. Do not to saute for longer or use a higher level of heat, so as not to burn it.
Add 4 cups of water and stir gently. Cover and cook for 20 minutes.
Don’t try peeking into the pot, as this will prolong the required cooking time by allowing heat and moisture to escape.
When your timer goes off, remove from the heat. Open the lid and fluff the grains with a fork. Let the pot sit for a few minutes to allow the steam to evaporate.
Step 5 – Combine Ingredients
Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the cooked legume and sofrito mixture into the rice. Keep in mind that the legumes are tender and can easily break apart if they’re mixed too aggressively. Keep folding until all of the grains are coated.
Serve with a sprinkle of fresh chopped cilantro on top.
Can I Use a Different Type of Bean?
You sure can! Black beans can easily sub in for red kidneys. These are a bit smaller and denser than their red counterparts, but they are just as nutritious and easy to prepare. You can also use pinto or navy varieties.
Are you serving this as a side dish, or a main course? Did you use canned or dried legumes? Let us know below. We look forward to your comments.
For more tasty dishes made with your favorite grains and legumes, take a look at these fabulous recipes from Foodal:
- Chili Lime Chicken with Black Beans and Rice
- Vegetarian Slow Cooker Baked Beans
- Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili with Butternut Squash
Photos by Katherine D’Costa, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on August 22, 2011. Last updated: July 29, 2021 at 13:16 pm.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
Eddie and Katherine D’Costa are a married professional chef and journalist duo from Atlanta, where they cook up a variety of international dishes, tested for the home cook. Katherine holds an MA in journalism from Northeastern University and Eddie’s professional experience spans 20 years working with Wolfgang Puck, Jean George Vongerichten, and Todd English.