Cuban Black Beans and Rice is a simple, satisfying side dish packed with protein and bursting with Latin flavors like garlic, oregano and cumin.
If you follow me on Instagram, you probably noticed I was in Miami recently attending BlogHer Food for the second year in a row. It was such an honor to spend a few days enjoying the warm weather, sampling authentic Cuban food and gazing at palm trees with hundreds of my best blogging buddies.
BlogHer Food remains one of the most rewarding and worthwhile trips I take every year. Believe me, I wouldn’t spend four days away from my baby using a breast pump if I didn’t think it was worth my time. Full Disclosure: I did not have a sponsor and paid for the entire conference and all travel expenses out of my own pocket.
So why do I love attending BlogHer Food? Three main reasons: the people, the food and the experiences gained. First thing’s first, let’s talk about the incredible people.
Aren’t these gals gorgeous? Nikki and Sheila were my roommates during the trip and I am lucky enough to consider them real life friends as well. Sheila lives just 20 minutes from me here in Grand Rapids and Nikki grew up 30 minutes north so I get to see her every fall when she comes to visit family.
If you know anything about me, you have probably gathered that I’m a people person. Big time. I thrive in group settings and prefer being surrounded by others than being alone. I am the exact opposite of a home body and have never lived alone in my life. Heck, I’ve never gone to the movies by myself! Good or bad, it’s who I am.
Needless to say, if I am given the opportunity to spend a few days with the people I’ve been chatting with virtually for months, I am going to jump at the chance. I firmly believe that you gain more in five minutes of face time than you can ever achieve texting, tweeting or emailing. The fact that my girl Aggie was going to be there was worth the price of admission alone.
My strongest blogging relationships have all been built in person. There is just something incredibly intoxicating about interacting with like-minded foodies, business owners and marketing professionals. Blogging is a crazy business and much of it is unchartered territory that we are all navigating for the first time.
In addition to getting to spend time with blogging friends, BlogHer Food gives me the chance to see many of my longest clients who I rarely, if ever, get to chat with in person. It’s a nice reminder that we are all real people behind these computer screens working miles and miles apart, even if some of us (ahem) happen to be doing it in yoga pants.
At the end of the day, it all boils down to down to passion. Passion is intangible and when you spend time with equally passionate people you get an energy boost that can’t be bought. It is truly priceless and I am so fortunate to have had my tank re-fueled, so to speak.
The second reason I love attending BlogHer Food is, of course, the food. My father taught me from an early age to experience travel destinations by way of eating what the locals eat. Since Cuban food is not something I can find here at home, I ate as much of it as I could while in Miami.
As a result, I’ve already been inspired in my own kitchen here at home which is why I am sharing this Cuban Black Beans and Rice recipe with you today. In the coming weeks I will also be sharing an incredibly juicy, tender Cuban Pork Tenderloin that was inspired by a chat on a bus ride in Miami with my new friend Adriana.
Lastly, I loved attending to BlogHer Food for the experiences gained. Hands down, I’ll pick an experience like travel over a tangible, material item any day of the week. Traveling is in my genes. From Norway to Africa to Mexico and back, I live to travel. As my friend Sommer stated so perfectly: “Travel makes my heart burst with delight.”
Before blogging full time, I actually worked in the hotel industry for over 10 years. In fact, I got my degree in Hospitality Administration (hotel/restaurant management) while studying at Boston University. Traveling excites me like nothing else. It gets me fired up and excited as I learn about the local culture, the architecture, the people, the food, the history and more.
Above all, I am so grateful and humbled by all of YOU. My readers who make my recipes, leave me comments, send me emails and more – YOU are what makes my soul delight. And for that, I will always be grateful.
Your fork is waiting.
- 1 pound black beans - dried or 4 (four 15-ounce cans rinsed and drained)
- 3 cloves whole garlic
- 4 bay leaves divided
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion diced
- 1 red pepper seeded and diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 2 cups long grain white rice rinsed
- 4 cups chicken broth low sodium
- minced cilantro and lime wedges to serve
Soak beans overnight to soften and remove any small hard stones. The next day, strain and rinse soaked beans with fresh water.
To cook beans, place in a large pot and add enough water to cover the beans by two inches. Carefully smash whole garlic cloves with the back of a knife and add to the pot of beans alone with 2 of the bay leaves.
Bring pot to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer until tender (90 minutes or up to two hours.) Set aside once cooked.
Next, in a large Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium high heat and sauté onions, peppers and garlic. Add spices (salt through cayenne) and continue stirring until vegetables have softened, 4-6 minutes.
Stir in rinsed (uncooked) rice and sauté for 2 minutes so that the rice starts to toast and lightly brown.
Pour in chicken broth and add reserved, cooked black beans along with bay leaves. Stir once then bring to a boil. Stir a second time then reduce heat to low and place tightly fitting lid on the pot. Cook until liquid has been absorbed, about 15 minutes.
Use a fork to loosen the rice and bean mixture then serve with fresh cilantro and lime wedges.
Canned black beans will work if you're short on time but I highly suggest dried black beans for added texture, flavor and less additives.