This one-pot recipe for turmeric rice, beans & greens is as nutritious as it is easy to make!
Is anyone else ready for a simple pot of rice and beans?
I know I am. Rice and beans are a kind of comfort food for me, especially after lots of complex holiday cooking. They’re the food that I crave when I’m busy or stressed. As a result, they’ve been a staple in my diet through all of grad school.
Lately, I love using my turmeric rice as a rice & bean base. That’s how this one-pot turmeric rice, beans & greens meal came to be. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s quick, nutritious, and tasty. These days, that’s more than enough for me.
Why add turmeric to rice?
Aside from its golden lovely color, turmeric adds a slightly pungent and bitter flavor to rice. In addition, it adds phytonutrients that are anti-inflammatory.
Curcumin is the active compound in turmeric that’s responsible for its health properties. Curmin has antioxidant properties as well as anti-inflammatory ones.
Supplemental doses of curcumin are probably necessary to unlock some of the health benefits that it has been associated with. These include relief from arthiritis and protection against cognitive decline and heart disease.
Even so, I take every opportunity I can to sneak turmeric into my cooking. When I do, I add a pinch of black pepper, which helps to enhance our bodies’ absorption of curcumin.
Since making these bowls, turmeric rice has become a staple around here. The rice works as nicely in a cohesive dish as it does as a side or a component of a meal. For this turmeric rice, beans & greens, I increased the spices for bolder flavor.
One of the nice things about this recipe is that it can be modified to fit what you have at home. All three ingredient categories here—the rice, the legumes, and the greens—allow for flexibility.
My preference 80% of the time is to use white basmati rice in this recipe. Why? Because it’s quick-cooking. And lately I value one-pot meals that take me minimal time to prepare.
You can definitely use brown basmati rice in place of white if that’s your preference. Doing so will add a little extra fiber to the recipe, and that’s a good thing. If you do, the cooking time will be doubled.
One “in-between” option that I like is to use parboiled rice. This is rice that has been pre-boiled in its husk. The boiling process drives nutrients from the husk into the rice grains.
The result is rice that’s almost as fast to cook as white rice, but nutritionally similar to brown. I often keep parboiled rice in my pantry as a compromise between nutrition and convenience.
I like using kidney beans in this recipe for color contrast, and because I tend to neglect them in my cooking! But so many types of beans will work well in their place. You can try:
Note that the beans are cooked before they’re added to the recipe. So, if you’re cooking your beans from scratch, you’ll want to take that preparation time into account.
Once again for the sake of speed, I usually use baby spinach as my green of choice in the turmeric rice, beans & greens. It wilts down in minutes.
However, the recipe can be modified to work with collard greens, chopped kale, mustard greens, beet greens, and more. If you use a different leafy green—one that isn’t baby spinach—then I recommend giving the greens a full ten minutes (rather than two) to cook down.
Oh, how I love a good sauce. I like topping this bowl with yum sauce. Extra turmeric! Extra tanginess!
But you could use so many other types of sauce here. A few additional options from this blog:
This meal is as easy to store as it is to make. Just keep it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days.
I don’t love the texture of defrosted white basmati rice. But when I make this recipe with brown rice, I do often freeze leftovers. Those keep well for up to six weeks.
Just can’t get enough turmeric? Here are a few more of my favorite ways to incorporate it into recipes:
“I’d be more than happy with rice and beans.” This is something I’ve said to friends who are fretting about what to cook for a vegan when I come over or stay with them.
I’m assuring them that vegan food can be both simple and familiar. But it’s an honest expression of my tastes, too. I love rice and beans. And I love this turmeric rice, beans & greens meal especially.
Hope you enjoy it, too!