Red beans and rice always makes me think of the time I broke my ankle, because I ate it multiple times a week for a few months. A family friend made a huge batch of red beans and rice for me, froze it into individual servings, and I ate it for months.
Since then, I’ve altered my way of cooking for it to be full of vegetables. I used to hate having other textures in my vegetarian red beans and rice, but now I fill my beans with vegetables to add flavor, color, and enhance the nutritional value of this meal.
Red beans and rice typically has meat in it, but I don’t feel the need because beans and rice make a complete protein. This is a reason I really like making this meal, because I know I’m getting a lot of protein. I tend to modify this recipe based on what vegetables I have in stock, so I’ll go through some of my favorite vegetables to put in this red beans and rice recipe.
I’ve done a lot of modifications to the recipe this is originally based on, because I can’t eat onions or garlic at the moment. I also don’t always use vegetable stock because it typically has some sort of corn derivative in it.
These red beans and rice work really well frozen in individual servings to be reheated later. I did this both for when I broke my ankle, and when I did a road trip across the USA, having them in a cooler and reheating them on my camp stove (you can read more about my other travel tips here if you’d like).
Have an instant pot and want to make this meal in less time? Check out this version of this recipe!
How to Make This Vegetarian Red Beans and Rice Recipe
*This recipe is for one pound of red kidney beans, which makes about 6 servings. This vegetarian red beans and rice can easily be doubled if you have a large enough pot.
1. Overnight (or for at least 8 hours) soak 1 pound of red kidney beans. Make sure the beans are covered in at least 3 extra inches of water. If the beans have soaked in most of the water after a few hours, add more water for the soaking process.
2. About 2 hours before meal time, start preparing your food. Drain the beans, put them in a pot on the stove with about 40 oz of boiling water (or vegetable broth) and spices (my suggestions: salt, pepper, bay leaf, basil, oregano, tiny amount of cayenne pepper). Cover with a lid and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, lower the to medium heat, keeping covered. Stir occasionally.
3. While the beans are cooking, cut up vegetables – I suggest at minimum a bell pepper and a few mushrooms. If you can do onion and garlic, add half a yellow onion and 3 cloves of garlic. The other vegetables depend on what I have available and how spicy I want it, such as: zucchini, cauliflower, carrots, celery, spicy pepper… Cauliflower is great because it adds extra bulk to the recipe, which I really like. Feel free to play around and try throwing other vegetables in too.
In a frying pan, heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a over medium-high heat. Once hot, add in the vegetables to brown for about 5-10 minutes.
4. Prepare the rice by following instructions on the packaging.
5. After about 30-40 minutes of the beans cooking, add in the vegetables. Lower the heat down to a simmer, and continue cooking, stirring often. Cook until there is no water remaining, and the beans are soft when testing. If they aren’t soft and there’s no water remaining, add a bit more and allow to continue cooking. This is also a good time to test for seasoning and add in extra spices.
*Make sure to watch it near the end and stir often so the beans don’t burn on the bottom of the pot.
Optional: once soft, take the back of your spoon and mash some of the beans for an added texture.
Serve. Put rice in the bottom of the bowl, and scoop some of the beans on top. Enjoy!