This one-pot recipe for turmeric rice, beans & greens is as nutritious as it is easy to make!

A ceramic bowl holds a golden-hued meal of turmeric rice, beans, and greens.

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 turmeric rice?

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.

A small, ceramic bowl holds a plant-based meal of kidney beans, whole grains, and spinach.

Choosing your rice, beans & greens

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.

Rice

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.

Beans

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:

  • Black beans
  • White beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Pigeon peas
  • Cranberry beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Lentils

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.

Greens

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.

Sauce

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:

Storing turmeric rice, beans & greens

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.

More turmeric recipes

Just can’t get enough turmeric? Here are a few more of my favorite ways to incorporate it into recipes:

A close-up image of rice that's been cooked with turmeric, kidney beans, and spinach.
A ceramic bowl holds a golden-hued meal of turmeric rice, beans, and greens.
5 from 7 votes

One Pot Turmeric Rice, Beans & Greens

Author – Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil (substitute another neutral vegetable oil)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup white or brown basmati rice
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (more as needed)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 1/4 cups + 1/2 cup water, divided
  • 5 ounces baby spinach or chopped, fresh spinach (about 5 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked kidney beans (1 14.5-ounce can, drained and rinsed)
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup tightly packed, chopped cilantro leaves and stems (optional)
  • Yum sauce (optional, for drizzling on top)

Instructions

  • Rinse the rice through a sieve under cold, running water for a full minute. Drain the rice.
  • Heat the oil in a medium pot or a deep skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion. Cook the onion, stirring frequently, for 7 minutes, or until it's soft and just browning. Add splashes of water as needed to prevent sticking. When the onion is ready, stir in the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant, stirring constantly.
  • Add the rice, turmeric, cumin, coriander, salt, bay leaf, and water to the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cover. Simmer for 12-15 minutes (for white rice) or for 30-35 minutes (brown rice), or until the rice is tender.
  • Pour in the extra 1/2 cup water, then add the spinach to the pot, piling it over the rice. Cover the pot again to allow the spinach to steam and wilt down for 2 minutes. Then, stir the spinach into the rice, so that it wilts down completely. (If you need to add a few splashes of additional water as you do this, go for it.)
  • Finally, stir in the kidney beans, lime juice, and black pepper to your liking. Taste the rice, adjust seasonings as needed, then stir in the cilantro, if using. Top with yum sauce or any other desired garnishes. Serve.
A white serving bowl is filled with a colorful mix of turmeric rice, beans and greens

“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!

xo

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Recipe Rating




    19 Comments
  1. Cooking it now. But instruction says add lemon and lime juice, tho no lemon juice is included in ingredient list.

  2. What are your thoughts on substituting the red kidney beans for lentils instead?

  3. 5 stars
    This was so good. I used homemade Garam Masala in place of the spices. Would like to try some with Labneh on top.

  4. 5 stars
    So we made the change a couple of weeks ago and it has been somewhat challenging (more so around dinnertime) because neither of us can really cook.

    Not only did this recipe turn out well, but it completely revitalized our commitment. I’m a lot more confident that we can make REAL meals on our own. Thanks!

  5. Be SURE to soak the rice first! I missed seeing that plus I used brown rice and the cooking time pretty much doubled, plus I had to keep adding water.

    Sprinkled a few pine nuts on top for crunch/glavor. This reminds me of mujadarra, a Lebanese lentils/rice/caramlized onions recipe.

    Every recipe I ever read that says to caramelize onions in 12-15 minutes underestiates the amount of time it takes to truly caramelize. I know that so Iadjust, but it’s not fast frying–it’s slow and delicious.

  6. 5 stars
    SUBLIME. I loved this so much. I swapped garbanzos for kidneys and topped it with salted and limed coconut yogurt. My new go-to rice and beans, absolutely divine.

  7. 5 stars
    I made this recipe last night. It was delicious and so easy! I used brown rice, though, and prep and cooking took longer than 40 minutes from start to finish. I assume the 40 minutes listed at the top of the recipe is for white rice, so other people planning to make this with brown rice just be aware that you will need more like an hour.

    Also, I used a mix of spinach and arugula since I didn’t have enough spinach, and I can confirm that arugula works well too.

    Thanks for the recipe!

    Danielle | solongusa.blogspot.com

  8. 5 stars
    This was delicious and easy to make – thank you for posting! A nice twist on rice and beans, comforting and nutritious. The tip about sriracha was spot on as well.

  9. 5 stars
    Made this last night, subbing black beans for kidney beans and broccoli for the spinach. So delicious and flavorful and now I have lunches for the rest of the week. I also just preordered your new book! I love one pot meals.

  10. I tried this for dinner tonight and loved it! Goes great with sriracha on top too.