What’s a burrito bowl? A burrito without the tortilla wrapping. A bowl of steaming hot rice, topped with savory beans, and each and every taco topping you want—salsa, avocados, cilantro, guacamole, jicama, lettuce or cabbage. Here’s the thing with a burrito bowl, it can be made in 15 minutes with pantry items and toppings from the fridge. Canned beans, reheated frozen cooked rice, prepared salsa. It’s fast, it’s easy, it works.
Or you can take your burrito bowl to another level and cook your beans from scratch, or even make Spanish rice or cilantro rice. For this burrito bowl pictured here I cooked up a bag of beautiful Rancho Gordo black beans from scratch, in a cumin, garlic, and bay leaf infused broth. We also experimented with canned beans, which if you use, you will want to reheat with a few extras.
If you go the canned bean route, I strongly recommend using a good quality canned bean. We tested 5 different brands of canned black beans. The Whole Foods 365 brand was completely lacking in flavor; we don’t recommend it. The other four are pictured here. Of these, we like S&W Premium Black Beans, as well as Bush’s Black Beans. The Rosarita and the La Costeña were both like soupy pinto beans, nothing special, and not nearly as good as the S&W and Bush’s.
This recipe makes a lot, but the leftovers keep well. You can easily cut the recipe in half.
- 1 pound dry black beans
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp ground cumin
- 4 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 15-ounce cans of whole black bean (preferably S&W premium black beans, or Bush's best black beans)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 3 cups, uncooked rice, white or brown
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 1/2 to 6 cups of water, depending on the type of rice (read package)
- Sliced red cabbage
- Ripe avocado, peeled and cut into chunks
- Fresh tomato salsa
- Chopped fresh cilantro
- Queso fresco Mexican farmer's cheese (or Cotija cheese) (skip if cooking vegan)
- Sour cream or crema fresca (skip if cooking vegan)
Preparing dry beans
1 Place black beans in a large bowl or pot. Cover with 2 inches of water, let soak overnight, then drain. You can skip overnight soaking, place black beans in bowl, and cover with 2-inches of boiling water. Let soak for one hour. Then drain.
2 Place soaked and drained beans in a large pot. Cover with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer.
3 While the beans are coming to a boil in step 2, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a small pan on medium heat. Stir in the ground cumin and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the minced garlic, cook a minute more. Once the beans are boiling, add the cumin and garlic to the pot with the beans. Add bay leaves and salt to the pot as well.
4 Cook the beans, uncovered, until tender, but not mushy, 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the size and age of the beans.
5 When the beans are done, place a strainer over a separate pot. Pour the beans into the strainer, to collect the cooking water into the pot. Set aside the beans, and boil down the cooking liquid until thickened and slightly syrupy. Return the cooking liquid to the beans and stir.
Preparing canned beans
1 Place the beans and the liquid from the can in a sauce pan. (Taste the liquid first; if it tastes good, use it, if not, drain the beans first, and add as much liquid to the pot with the beans as you strained out.)
2 Add the cumin and garlic powder to the beans. Bring to a simmer and simmer for a minute or two to heat the beans through. Stir in the cilantro and remove from heat.
Preparing the rest
1 Place 3 cups of rice in a large saucepan. Depending on the type of rice you are using (short grain, long grain, white, brown) you will add any where from 4 1/2 cup of water to 6 cups of water to the pot. Check the rice package instructions. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to low to maintain a very low simmer. Cover and cook from 15 minutes to 45 minutes, depending on the type of rice (again, check the package instructions for the rice you are using). Remove from heat and let rest for 10 minutes, covered, before fluffing with a fork to serve.
2 To construct the burrito bowl, place a serving of cooked rice at the bottom of a serving bowl. Top with black beans. Top with assorted garnishes—thinly sliced cabbage, chopped avocados, chopped cilantro, queso fresco and sour cream.