Quick California Rice and Beans

Submitted by

Suzanne Kemmer (Rice University)

Story behind this recipe

This recipe helped two poor graduate students (myself and husband) keep body and soul together through several cold San Francisco winters in an unheated Noe Valley victorian flat.

Good cheap rib-sticking vegetarian fare.
Total cooking time from putting the onions in is about 20 minutes; but the sauce can be let to simmer longer until the rice finishes and table is set. A double recipe allows for reheating (rice reheats nicely in a Chinese steamer). The sauce tastes even better on the second day.
Poblano pepper can be substituted with the lighter green Anaheim (1/2 large poblano equals about 1 whole Anaheim), or other intense-flavored fresh peppers. Ordinary green bell peppers can be used in a pinch, but they're a little too mild and sweet for my taste. With poblanos, no other spices are necessary.


2-3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large poblano pepper, seeded, cut in narrow strips and then cross-wise at 1/4 inch intervals
16 oz can peeled Italian tomatoes with juice
16 oz can pinto beans, drained and well rinsed
1/3-1/2 cup chopped cilantro (one small bunch)
1/2 cup grated mild cheddar cheese for garnish

1 cup long-grained brown rice
Ca. 1 2/3 cups water
Salt to taste

Serving size


Measuring units


Cooking Instructions

Boil water for rice.
Add rice and salt, stir, bring to a boil, then lower heat and cook ca. 40 minutes covered over low heat until water absorbed.
While rice is cooking, prepare the sauce in a large covered skillet or saucepan:
1. Saute onion in olive oil over medium heat until golden.
2. Add garlic and poblano pepper shards, saute another minute or so over medium high heat until seared but not too brown. Dribble in more oil if necessary to keep from sticking to pan.
3. Add tomatoes with juice. Break up and bring almost to boil; let cook several minutes uncovered over medium high heat, stirring.
4. Add beans. Mix gently and thoroughly and heat through, partially covered, until piping hot.
5. Fold in chopped cilantro just before serving, reserving a little for garnish.
6. Serve piled over hot rice with grated cheddar cheese and a bit of cilantro on top. Serves 2-3 hungry people.