Puerto Rican-style Rice and Beans

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Appears in

Lighter, Quicker, Better: Cooking for the Way We Eat Today

Lighter, Quicker, Better

By Richard Sax and Marie Simmons

Published 2000

  • About

Adapted from a friend’s authentic recipe. Pink beans are a staple of Puerto Rican cooking, although the cooking of that island extends far beyond such basic fare. For a good introduction, have a look at Yvonne Ortiz’s book A Taste of Puerto Rico. In this meatless version of what Ms. Ortiz calls “our daily bread,” the beans form their own rich, aromatic sauce as they cook.



  • 1 pound dried red kidney beans
  • tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 4 cups Chicken Broth or unsalted canned broth, fat skimmed, or 2 cups each broth and water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 piece 2-inch cinnamon stick
  • Salt
  • Hot pepper sauce


    1. Soak the beans as described on.
    2. Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan or Dutch oven. Sauté the onions over low heat, stirring frequently, covered, until the onions are caramelized to a rich golden brown, about 15 minutes. Stir in the garlic and sauté, uncovered, about 3 minutes longer.
    3. Add the beans and the broth. Simmer, covered, for 2 hours, adding more water if needed to keep the beans moist. Add the bay leaf and cinnamon and continue to simmer until the beans are very tender, about 1 hour longer. Add salt and hot pepper sauce to taste.
    4. Cook the rice as described until it is tender and the liquid is absorbed. While the rice is cooking, heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet, preferably nonstick, and add the onion, carrot, and celery. Sauté over medium-low heat, stirring, until tender but not brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and sauté 2 minutes longer. Add the red onion and pepper and continue to sauté until pepper is just crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Set aside about 2 tablespoons of this vegetable mixture for garnish. Stir the rest of the vegetable mixture into the cooked rice with a fork or chopstick, fluffing the rice as you combine the ingredients.
    5. Bring the rice and the beans to the table in 2 large serving bowls. To serve, place a spoonful of rice in a shallow soup bowl, then spread the rice to the edges. Place a ladleful of beans in the center of the rice, top with the reserved vegetables, and ser