Black Beans and Plantains with Rice

Black Beans and Plantains with Rice

It felt good to get back in the kitchen cooking. This was the first full meal I made since returning from Europe. The initial few days home consisted of gorging on fruits and vegetables, and wearing off my jet-lag with some minestrone from the freezer. Though, I admit, I also chowed down on some coconut chai vegan ice cream (shout out to Philly’s Little Baby’s Ice Cream) and some wood-fired pizza from Pizza Nomad, possibly my favorite pizza place in Philadelphia, for the moment at least.

Warm-weather months mean lots of festivals, flea markets and food truck gatherings in Philly, which is where I ate said pizza and said ice cream. Like I said in my first post home, I feel fortunate to have returned from Paris in the midst of spring. It’s easy to keep your mind from missing daily travel excursions when there’s so much going on in your own city. For instance, this past weekend and the first weekend being back, I hit up a food truck meetup, a kinetic sculpture derby, and an Italian Market festival going on in my neighborhood.

Yoga On The Steps Philadelphia


I also woke up to an incredible yoga class on the Art Museum steps on Sunday. Being still slightly on a different time schedule, my body got me up an hour or two earlier than I would’ve normally preferred. With none of my friends awake yet, I laid in bed and scanned my Instagram (favorite iPhone app ever). Then, I thanked my body for waking me up early.

I saw a picture of this event and found out it would be starting in a half hour. Ten minutes later, I was on my bike cruising through empty Sunday morning streets to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Here, I joined 100s of yogis setting up their mats amidst the 72 steps where Rocky took his famous run.

This is what I love about city living. You’re never alone in a city. There are almost always new experiences to have. Moments of inspiration to be found. And events like this that can raise over $200,000 for breast cancer awareness. Whether in Paris or Philadelphia, what I love about city living are the opportunities like this — last minute bike rides to a beyond powerful morning yoga class.

Black Beans and Plantains with Rice

In my current city, I also cherish living close to the Italian Market. It’s here where I can scan rows of produce and find the ripe deals of the day, such as the plantain that inspired this recipe. Generally when I get plantains, I bake them in the oven, salt them, and then slather them with peanut butter. This time around, however, it was time for me to get cooking — a real meal, not just one of those peanut butter-based meals I fill up on far too often.

The sweetness of plantains pairs wonderfully with spice-infused black beans. Don’t be intimidated by the lengthy ingredient list. If you read it, you’ll see that most of the items are just spices you should already  have in you kitchen, and that the recipe itself is quite simple. Serve atop brown rice for a healthy and substantial meal.



Black Beans and Plantains with Rice

Yield: Serves 3-4


  • -2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • -1 small-medium onion, diced
  • -2 cloves garlic, minced
  • -1 tsp. chili powder
  • -1/2 tsp. coriander
  • -1/2 tsp. cumin
  • -Scant 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • -Dash smoked paprika
  • -1 (15 oz.) can black beans, undrained*
  • -Dab of butter
  • -1 plantain, peeled, sliced in half and chopped
  • -Juice of 3/4 - 1 lime (depending on size of your lime)
  • -Salt and pepper, to taste
  • -1 cup of brown rice + 2 cups of water
  • -Hot sauce, optional
  • -Fresh cilantro, handful, optional


  1. Place brown rice and water in pot. Cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook 35-40 minutes, or until rice is fluffy and tender.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, bring 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute for two minutes. Add garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Continue to saute, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent and caramelized. Add spices.
  3. Pour in entire 15 oz. can of black beans. Bring to a low simmer, and reduce heat to low. Adjust salt, to taste, and let simmer while preparing plantains, 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Beans should be slightly saucy at the end, so keep the heat low and add a splash or two of water, if needed.
  4. To prepare the plantains, heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add dab of butter to coat pan. Once melted, add plantains and season with salt. Saute 4-5 minutes, flipping occasionally, until edges are brown. Squeeze lime over top and remove from heat.
  5. Remove beans from heat and stir in plantains. Divide rice among bowls and drizzle with remaining Tbsp. of olive oil. Serve beans over top, and finish with cilantro and/or hot sauce, if desired.


*If using dried beans, reserve some of the cooking liquid.

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  • Reply
    May 25, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    YOU NEED TO GO GET A VEGAN CHEESESTEAK AT GOVINDAS SO GOOD. The basic4vegetarian has some great stuff too in the reading terminal market!

  • Reply
    May 27, 2013 at 8:45 am

    Exactly what you described is exactly what I love about living in a city as well! You are just never ever alone. 🙂

    This meal is definitely a perfect one to return to home cooking with! Plantains are my favorite!

  • Reply
    Irina @ wandercrush
    May 27, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    Ah! Grace, you’ve hit one of my comfort food weaknesses spot-on—I’ve missed black beans and plantains so much since I moved away from the Latin-American-inspired cuisine in Florida. I’m gonna have to make this soon!

  • Reply
    May 27, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    Love eating plantains at out local Cuban restaurant, but I’ve never really been sure how to cook with them at home. Your recipe is definitely one I want to try!

  • Reply
    May 28, 2013 at 2:05 am

    Hi Grace, did you use a green plantain or one a little more on the yellow/ripe side?

    • Reply
      May 28, 2013 at 10:17 am

      Hi Christina,

      I used a rather ripe, yellow one. You’ll want to go with a yellow one too add some sweetness to the dish.

  • Reply
    Katie @ Produce on Parade
    May 28, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    Oh this looks wonderful! I love plantains but rarely use them…now I’ll have a great reason to! Thanks for sharing 🙂 Cheers!

  • Reply
    Elizabeth Campanile
    April 17, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    Hi Grace, thanks for this delicious recipe! This has become a family favorite!

    • Reply
      Grace @FoodFitnessFreshAir
      April 18, 2014 at 8:38 am

      So happy to hear Elizabeth! I love this sweet and savory combo.

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