This Cuban rice bowl recipe combines Cuban staple foods with other wholesome ingredients to make a nutritious and flavor-packed power bowl!
Do you need an energy boost? If so, a Cuban rice bowl will deliver that and more! It consists of nutrient-packed coconut rice topped with seasoned black beans, fried plantains, avocado (in the form of tasty guacamole), and green goddess dressing. It is a hearty and filling meal that combines a delightful array of flavors and textures. Every spoonful is savory, a little sweet, has a lot of depth, and the warm, earthy spices set it off.
Why You’ll Love This Cuban Rice Bowl
A Cuban rice bowl is great for lunch or dinner and is ideal for meal prep, especially if you’re looking for portable options. Aside from being tasty, each bowl:
- Is high in protein – There is a significant amount of protein in each bowl thanks to the black beans and Greek yogurt in the dressing.
- Has healthy fat – Healthy fat is an effective way to prolong satiety, and the good fat in each Cuban rice bowl does just that.
- Is high in complex carbs – Brown rice is full of fiber, as are beans and plantains. Like healthy fat, complex carbohydrates keep you full and are very energizing.
- Tastes great at any temperature – Hot, cold, or somewhere in between; it doesn’t matter one bit.
- Consists of inexpensive ingredients – This is cheap and cheerful cooking at its finest. Quality food doesn’t have to be expensive.
Cuban Rice Bowl Ingredients Notes
- Brown Rice: Cooking rice in coconut water gives it a nice flavor. Doing so also comes with the bonus of adding natural electrolytes and antioxidant properties to every bowl.
- Black Beans: I used canned black beans for this recipe to keep it convenient (and save time). They’re seasoned with cumin and chili powder during the reheating process and are a significant source of flavor for the bowls. The aroma emitted is equally enjoyable.
- Plantains: The fried plantains on top of the bowl are divine. Each bite is buttery, sweet, and crisp.
- Guacamole: I used store-bought to save time. Guacamole adds a pleasant creaminess to the rice bowls. It’s also tart, a little spicy, and very nutritious.
- Greek Yogurt: Depending on dietary needs, use fat-free yogurt, full-fat, or something in between. The yogurt and sour cream serve as the creamy base for the dressing.
- Basil: The green goddess dressing wouldn’t be very green without it! The herb adds a peppery minty taste to each Cuban rice bowl.
- Lemon Juice: Fresh juice brightens and enhances all the delicious flavors.
How to Make Cuban Rice Bowls
- Cook the rice: After rinsing the rice under cool water to remove excess starch and prevent overly sticky Cuban rice bowls, transfer it to a pot with coconut water, plain water, and salt to cook. It’s ready when all the liquid is absorbed.
- Fry the plantains: A quick pan fry in the butter turns the starchy fruit slices into little bites of warm, crispy goodness. The addition of brown sugar and cinnamon enhances their natural flavor.
- Blend the dressing: Add all the green goddess dressing ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.
- Make the seasoned beans: Add the beans to a saucepan over medium-low heat with cumin, chili powder, and salt to heat through.
- Assemble: Layer rice, beans, and plantains in serving bowls. Drizzle green goddess dressing on top, followed by cheese and a dollop of guacamole!
Variations, Substitutions & Cooking Tips
- Use quinoa instead of rice – The tiny seeds are similar to rice grains. However, unlike brown rice, quinoa contains all nine amino acids, making it a complete protein.
- Add even more Cuban-inspired flavor – One of the best ways to add even more flavor to a Cuban rice bowl is with sofrito. It’s a variety of peppers, onion, garlic, and herbs sautéed with tomato sauce, then used to enhance the flavor of rice, beans, stews, and more.
- Make fresh guacamole – Halve, pit, and peel an avocado, then mash. Once done, add lemon juice and your favorite add-ins like red onion, jalapeno, and diced tomato.
- Cuban Tacos – you can choose to eat this out of a bowl or, if you’re like me, make yourself a few tacos!
Cuban rice bowls are excellent for meal prep! If you want to make this recipe ahead of time, store each component separately in an airtight container. They will stay fresh for up to 5 days.
How to Reheat
Reheat the rice and beans in the microwave. Loosely cover a Cuban rice bowl with a lid and warm it in 30-second intervals. To return the plantains to their crisp texture, pop them into an oven set to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 5-10 minutes or until crisp and heated through, then place on top of the bowl and finish with dressing, cheese, and guac. If crispness isn’t important to you, the plantains can also go in the microwave.
- 2 cups coconut water
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups short-grain brown rice
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 plantains, sliced (extremely ripe)
- 2 tbs. butter
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 8 oz. can black beans
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- 1 cup guacamole (I bought mine from Whole Foods, but feel free to make your own)
- Cotija cheese (I used Cacique
- Green Goddess Dressing
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 cup sour cream
- 2 green onions (whole)
- 1 cup packed basil
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 garlic cloves
- The juice of 2 lemons
- In a large pot, bring the coconut water, salt and water to a boil. Add in the rice, cover and reduce to a simmer.
- Cook for about 25-30 minutes or until the rice has absorbed all the liquid and is tender.
- In a large sauce pan, add the butter, cinnamon and brown sugar and the sliced plantains.
- Cook for about 5 minutes on each side or until golden and caramelized.
- Add all of the dressing ingredients to a blender and pulse until completely smooth.
- In another sauce pan, add the black beans along with the cumin, salt, and chili powder and heat over a medium-low temp until warmed through.
- Once the rice is finished, add to each individual bowl and top with fried plantains, black beans, guacamole, and cotija cheese!
- Serve immediately, or store each component separately in the fridge.
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