cuban-style black beans + rice with coconut cream

cuban-style black beans + rice with coconut cream | The Clever Carrot

This morning, I woke up wanting to be a vegetarian…

I’m not all that shocked really, as I tend to go through these phases every now and then. Sometimes it’s boycotting meat, maybe sugar, and then I go back to being normal again (whatever that is). I’ve learned to just give in to these cravings and I feel much better when I do. It’s my body’s way of balancing.

Currently, I’m into rice and beans.

cuban-style black beans + rice with coconut cream | The Clever Carrot

Last week we spoke about budget meals, and this recipe is a continuation of that theme. Whether you make a big pot yourself or use canned as I’ve done here, incorporating beans into your diet is an excellent source of (inexpensive) plant-based protein. The best way to describe this dish is ‘black beans meets the islands.’ It was inspired by the lovely vegetarian creations over at Fare Isle.

To make this, I sauté red onion and bell pepper with a hint of cumin. I add the beans, and gently simmer with stock. It’s served on a bed of basmati rice and topped with juicy grape tomatoes and avocado. For extra flavor, I quickly marinate the tomatoes in olive oil, salt, and herbs while preparing the rest of the ingredients. The tomatoes create this incredible juice that adds just the right amount of acidity to this dish.

I finish with a drizzle of thick coconut cream for a little island flare. Pure heaven.

cuban-style black beans + rice with coconut cream | The Clever Carrot

You know what else would make this nice and island-y? One of these… I can never say no to a margarita. This whole vegetarian thing is going to suit me quite well. It falls right in line with my current cravings and the topic of budget meals. Plus, if margaritas are vegetarian friendly I might need a few after all of this packing- oh the joys of moving!

And while we’re at it, happy Cinco de Mayo, friends!


  • What’s the difference between coconut milk and coconut cream? Coconut milk is thin in consistency and is the base for most Asian-style curries. Coconut cream is a lot thicker and often used in desserts. Both versions are unsweetened. There is also ‘cream of coconut’ which is a sweetened version of coconut cream. I’m using regular coconut cream for this recipe for it’s thick, rich texture. 

cuban-style black beans + rice with coconut cream
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4
  • 2x 14 oz. cans black beans, rinsed + drained
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • ½ tsp. cumin
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 c. chicken or vegetable stock
  • olive oil
  • salt + pepper
Marinated tomatoes
  • 1 pint mini grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 tbsp. roughly chopped cilantro or parsley
  • olive oil
  • salt + pepper
  • 2 c. basmati rice
  • 1 can of coconut cream*
  • Avocado, fresh cilantro and lime wedges
*What's the difference between coconut milk and coconut cream? Coconut milk is thin in consistency and is the base for most Asian-style curries. Coconut cream is a lot thicker and often used in desserts. Both versions are unsweetened. There is also 'cream of coconut' which is a sweetened version of coconut cream. I'm using coconut cream for this recipe for it's thick, rich texture.
  1. Cook the rice according to the package instructions. Set aside.
  2. Gently warm the coconut cream until it becomes liquid. Transfer to a bowl; it will slightly thicken again as it sits.
  3. Add the sliced tomatoes and herbs to a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss gently to combine. Allow the tomatoes to marinate while you prepare the rest of the dish.
  4. In a large skillet, warm a splash of olive oil over moderate heat. Add the onion, peppers and cumin. Saute until soft and golden, about 10-15 minutes.
  5. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  6. Add the beans.
  7. Add the stock and bring to a gentle simmer. Taste and season with extra salt and pepper as desired.
  8. To serve, portion the rice onto plates. Add the beans, and top with marinated tomatoes and any of their juices. Garnish with chunks of avocado, cilantro, and drizzle with coconut cream. Serve with fresh lime wedges.

cuban-style black beans + rice with coconut cream | The Clever Carrot


    • Emilie says

      Hi Kaity! You are quite welcome! I have so much fun looking through your recipes & photos. You have a wonderful and inspiring collection :) xx

    • Emilie says

      Hi jocelyn! Me too. They’re so quick and easy to work with. I think I’m going to make some black bean + rice burgers with the leftovers… :)

  1. says

    Hahaaa… I go through those same types of phases. My husband doesn’t always appreciate it though, since I cook the main meals (“no meat?” *sad puppydog face*!). This looks absolutely delicious Emilie, love the food styling, the vibrant colours, those glistening black beans in tropical coconut… yum. I’m feeling similarly today. I might just make some sort of fragrant chickpea curry tonight… as I don’t have any black beans in the cupboard (I think I need to change that!) xxx

    • Emilie says

      This happens in our house My husband is a total carnivore! I like meat, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t need to eat it daily!!! Sometimes it’s so hard to come up with meals that will please everyone (don’t even get me started with the kids). He actually asked if there was meat in this bean dish… My reply was, ‘no, but there’s avocado?’ LOL. That worked for the moment. Thank you so much for stopping by with your kind words Laura! You are so sweet. I’m sure your chickpea curry will be super yummy tonight. Enjoy xx

  2. says

    I do believe our body’s talk to us if we are willing to listen — sometimes in whispers, eventually in screams ;-). I love the simplicity of this recipe and the wholesome ingredients you chose. I am absolutely struck by the lighting in your photos… did you take them outside? Just gorgeous!

    • Emilie says

      I couldn’t agree more… I do best when I listen to my body and feed it what it needs, whether it’s chocolate or greens! As for the photos, I shot them inside right on my kitchen table. I did this earlier in the day, so that could have been it. I used to be a stickler about when I would photograph, but now I shoot anywhere between 10 & 3. Much more fun to be spontaneous! Thank you Kelly! xoxo

  3. says

    Ok…so where is the party? I’d take you up on a plate of this and one of those drinks ;) Coconut cream…be still my heart!

    • Emilie says

      Yeah, regular coconut milk is most commonly found in grocery stores. Have a look in the international isle the next time you shop and I bet they will have coconut cream. Check the Spanish/Mexican sections. I’ve seen it there! :)

    • Emilie says

      Thank you! The combination of flavors is lovely- it’s a little Spanish, a little tropical, and with some fresh lime juice everything all comes together. I hope you enjoy!

  4. says

    Hello Emilie, I’ve just run into your blog and i find it stunning! Everything is so beautiful, classy, the photos are bright and coloured and super balanced! Not to talk about the recipes I think I’m gonna try one of your savory recipes, I’m always a bit short of ideas in this fields. Gabyxx

    • Emilie says

      Welcome Gaby! You are so sweet- thank you so much! Savory recipes can definitely be hard to come up with, I totally agree. So much easier to just bake something sweet! I hope you find something that you like… If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask :)

  5. says

    I could live on this. :) I’m a bit beans and rice obsessed myself at the moment – particularly the Mexican frijole refritos and red rice combo. Love the addition of coconut to your dish, and yes, I think it would be perfect with a Margarita! :)

  6. says

    I made this yesterday and it was absolutely amazing. Sent the recipe to friends. I didn’t have green pepper so left that out and I used orzo instead of rice. Next time I’m going to grill some shrimp and serve with it…Thank you for the tip on using Coconut Cream…

    • Emilie says

      Hi Cynthia! Grilled shrimp sounds like an excellent idea… I’ll have to try that one. I’m glad you enjoyed the recipe. Thanks for stopping by! :)

  7. April says

    This is absolutely heavenly – what a fantastic combination of flavors! Thank you so much for sharing this – I will use it for years to come!

    • Emilie says

      Welcome Sara! I love your blog name :) I hope you like the recipe- I’ve become quite addicted to beans and rice these days. It’s a healthy, comforting meal. Thanks for stopping by!

  8. says

    This is just the ticket- my body has been screaming for veg lately, as well… must be that every part of me is ready for this winter to be over! Looking forward to making this for dinner tonight- going to do grilled pineapple instead of tomato. Cheers!

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