Coconut Sweet Potato Rice and Beans

This sweet potato coconut rice and beans is accompanied by a bright, cashew cilantro lime sauce. It’s so hearty and healthful, and it’s bursting with flavor.

A large, oval serving dish is filled with coconut sweet potato rice and beans, and it's covered with a green sauce.

I could probably live off of different combinations of rice and beans. Rice and beans are perfect nourishment in so many ways: a mix of protein and complex carbs, filling, full of fiber.

Rice and bean dishes are also a perfect canvas for endless flavor variations. I’ve made them with turmeric and greens, tomato and cumin, pickled onions and chickpeas.

This sweet potato rice and beans features large flakes of coconut, tender roasted sweet potato cubes, and a bright, tangy cashew cilantro lime sauce. It’s a lot more flavorful and fun than the many plain pots of rice and beans that I make. I serve it both warm and cold, and it’s an easy dish to make ahead.

A large-rimmed, white bowl is filled with a mixture of plant-based grains, legumes, and herbs. It rests on a white surface.

How to make sweet potato rice and beans

Rice and beans can be cooked together or separately. The beans can be made from scratch, with dry beans, or they can be pre-cooked (canned or defrosted).

In the sweet potato rice and beans, rice is cooked from scratch, toasted a little in oil prior to cooking. I think this helps to give it nice, fluffy texture. I use precooked beans, usually canned. And I roast sweet potatoes till they’re nice and tender before folding them together with the other ingredients.

Pre-soaking rice

You don’t need to soak your brown rice ahead of time, as I do for the sweet potato rice and beans. However, I find that soaking rice beforehand makes it cook faster, and I’m generally in the habit of doing it when I have time.

Even one hour of pre-soaking rice can reduce the cooking time by five minutes or so. When you’re busy or in a rush, every minute counts.

A small pinch bowl with fresh cilantro, lime, and raw cashews.

Cashew cilantro lime sauce

Rice and bean dishes are even better when they’re paired with a good sauce. The cashew cilantro lime sauce in this recipe is a winner! It’s creamy, tangy, and bright.

I rely heavily on cashews in my recipes. I use them not only in sauces and dressings, but also for vegan cheese and cream. It’s a little inconvenient for those with cashew allergies (or tree nut allergies in general), I know!

If you have a cashew allergy, you can use hulled sunflower seeds in their place.

A plastic squeeze bottle holds a pale green sauce. It is pictured against a white background.

Make ahead options

There are lots of ways to prepare one or a few components of the coconut sweet potato rice and beans ahead of time. I often roast the sweet potatoes a day in advance of making the recipe. You can also cook the rice ahead of time. Both potatoes and rice can be made up to two days before you combine the ingredients.

The cashew cilantro lime sauce can also be made ahead very easily. It will keep for up to five days in an airtight container in the fridge!

Storing coconut sweet potato rice and beans

The sweet potato rice and beans makes good leftovers. I enjoy preparing it on a Sunday for weekday lunches. You can store the recipe leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days.

An angled photograph of a wide, white bowl, which has been filled with sweet potatoes, beans, and vegetables. It's topped with a bright green sauce and resting on a white backdrop.
A large, oval serving dish is filled with coconut sweet potato rice and beans, and it's covered with a green sauce.
5 from 1 vote

Coconut Sweet Potato Rice and Beans

Author – Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil (divided)
  • 1 lb sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch cubes (2 medium or 3 smaller sweet potatoes)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup long grain brown rice (pre-soaked for an hour or two if possible, then drained)
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/3 cup coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped, packed cilantro leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (1 14.5-ounce can, drained and rinsed)

For the 4-ingredient cilantro cashew lime sauce:

  • 1/3 cup raw cashews (soaked in water for at least 2 hours, then drained)
  • 1 cup packed cilantro leaves and stems
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/3 cup water, more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment. Toss the sweet potato cubes with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Spread the cubes on the baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 minutes, or until the potatoes are crispy and gently browning. Remove them from heat.
  • While the potatoes cook, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil in a medium sized saucepan or pot over medium heat. Add the brown rice. Toast the rice for about 3 minutes, or until it’s smelling nutty. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 2 cups water. Bring the water to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 25-35 minutes, or until the rice is tender and the water is absorbed. Remove the rice from heat and allow it to steam for 10 minutes, still covered.
  • To make the sauce, blend all ingredients together in a powerful blender till smooth. Add a tablespoon of extra water as needed, if the mixture is very thick.
  • Fluff the rice gently with a fork. Add the lime juice, coconut flakes, cilantro, and black beans. Fold everything together, then taste the rice and add additional lime juice, salt, and pepper to your liking.
  • Arrange the rice and bean mixture and the roasted potatoes on a serving platter (or in serving bowls). Drizzle the platter with the cilantro cashew lime sauce. Serve.
An overhead image of sweet potatoes, brown rice, and black beans. All of the ingredients are mixed with coconut chips and topped with a bright green dressing.

Best thing about the rice and beans? The fact that they smell faintly of toasted coconut when you dig into them.

I hope you’ll come to enjoy this nourishing dish as much as I do!

xo

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    7 Comments
  1. This sounds delicious! I want to try making a variation of it.

    Question about the rice- I find that when I soak my rice (usually for just 15-20 minutes) it significantly cuts down on the amount of water needed (I don’t add close to 1:2 when I do this). I’m surprised that you still cook it 1:2 with 2 hours(!) of soaking time. Does it really absorb all that water? I’m also confused about sautéing wet rice in oil- how does that work?

    • I’ve always found that I need a little more than a 1:2 ratio with dry (unsoaked rice), so it’s entirely possible that I like my rice a little on the softer or mushier side. You could definitely try 1:1.75 as a starting point and see how that goes.

      The wet rice will emit a lot of steam when you sauté it in the warm oil—and it’ll splatter a bit. But I think this step leads to fluffier and more flavorful results for this particular recipe. If you wanted to cook rice according to your normal process, I think the meal will still come together nicely!

      • Thanks! Yes maybe we like our rice differently. I love the kind you get at Jndian restaurants where it’s still fairly firm and never sticky. Because of this I actually follow the directions from “The Asian Vegan Kitchen” (good cookbook by the way!) when making white basmati or jasmine rice and cook it 1:1 for 8 minutes after soaking for 15. Brown rice I do a little differently.

        Anyway, I still want to try this! The flavors sound great. Thanks for your response.

  2. Sounds awesome! Am off to purchase cilantro for this! Do you have a nutritional breakdown?
    Or perhaps a calorie count?

    • Hi Elizabeth,

      I don’t have either, but there are numerous apps and programs that can help you to calculate. I hope you enjoy it!

      G