Italian Rice and Beans

Italian Rice and Beans with Lemon Zest

I’m kind of embarrassed, because I’m excited. I’m excited about rice and beans. Who gets excited about rice and beans?

Me, apparently.

I’ve been playing with the dish recently. Perhaps you’ve seen or tried the Rainbow Rice and Beans, our standard, or the Tahini Rice and Beans. Well, two rice and beans recipes are simply not enough! I must have more ways to eat rice and beans, so people can laugh at me for being a vegan and eating rice and beans all day long.

I loved the way this dish turned out. I especially love the lemon zest on top. It really does something magical. But I must warn you, I think a microplane grater is absolutely necessary. A friend of mine bought me on as a present recently, and my word. It makes the finest, lightest, fluffiest zest I’ve ever had. It practically melts in your mouth. I almost want to tell you to skip the zest altogether if you don’t have a grater like this. Is that ridiculous?

Italian Rice and Beans
Serves One Hearty Meal

1/2 Cup Brown Rice, uncooked
1/2 Can Great Northern Beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 Cup Oil Packed Sun-Dried Tomatoes, sliced into strips
1/4 Cup Pine Nuts
1 Large Handful Baby Spinach
1 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 tsp Kosher Salt
1-2 tsp Italian Herbs of your choice, (basil, oregano, marjoram, rosemary, etc)
Zest from 1/2 Organic Lemon
Almond Cheesy Sprinkles, optional

Sauteing Pine Nuts, Herbs, and Sundried TomatoesStart your rice, I use a rice cooker. When nearly finished (or actually finished), heat 3 Tbs of olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add herbs, tomatoes, and pine nuts. When pine nuts start to turn golden brown, add the beans. Toss gently, trying your best to keep the beans whole. Add salt and vinegar, stir gently. Turn down heat to low.

Wilting Spinach with Hot RicePlace spinach in one layer on top of the beans. Place hot, steaming rice over spinach and leave for 30 seconds or so, until you see the spinach start to wilt. Mix gently and plate.

Grate lemon zest on top of rice and beans, and finish with a sprinkle of almond cheesy sprinkles if desired. I ate lunch alone today, so I only made enough for me. I’ll test the recipe in bigger portions sometime soon, but if you want to double it before then, keep an eye on the vinegar and salt levels – they may not double exactly.

Italian Rice and Beans with Lemon Zest


  1. Jill

    I love rice and beans….will definitely give it a try…..but, there’s that great bowl again…please tell where it’s from!!! I love it. It’s the perfect bowl for pasta, stews, soups, grains, cereals!!!


  2. Amy

    Yeah, I’ll be making this today. :) And I completely agree about the Microplane grater. The first time I used mine I was amazed (and probably a little too excited about it).

  3. Lolo

    Hehe, Hi Jill! I was just about to respond to your other comment, but I’ll answer here. They’re from Crate and Barrel! I’m having trouble finding them on the website, but when I do I’ll post a link back here. :)

    Here they are! Kelli Dinerware. They were just marked down too!

    Hey Amy! Let me know what you think. I’m going to go admire my grater some more… :)

  4. Aimee

    HI–I’ve been reading your blog for a while, but haven’t commented. Until rice & beans! Love them. A lot. Thanks for this combo. I’m going to give them a try! With my microplane grater!

  5. Celine

    I’ve been craving rice lately, so I will try this asap. seriously, Lolo, cookzine at least, soon? you know it’d be beyond successful.

    and about the seitan, yes, I think that decreasing the vinegar would definitely be a plus, I didn’t find it necessary to add water because I didn’t use as much seitan as the recipe calls for, since we made it into a one person meal. I basically just used one of the cutlets I made from half of the VWAV seitan recipe, but if making as much as what your original recipe asks for, then yes, I think water would be perfect. or maybe broth?

    you rock!

  6. Mihl

    Your blog always reminds me to include more beans in my diet:) And because I love sun dried tomatoes and pine nuts I will definitely try this soon. Thank you!

  7. vincent

    This looks delicious! I love cannelini beans w/greens and other vegetables (especially artichokes and sun dried tomatoes). I also like congo peas, beluga lentils, flageolets, chick peas. There’s no legume I don’t dig and it always amazes me how many rice and beans combinations there are around the world.

  8. katie

    Ever since I saw this post I have been craving this – so I made it for dinner and it was perfect and delicious! it will become a regular meal in my house!

  9. Lolo

    Celine – I’m thinking about a cookzine, I really am! Thanks for your input into the sauce!

    Mihl – Thank! Beans are such a easy standby, too!

    Cherie – Me too. I put them in everything!

    Vincent – Congo peas! Those sound fun!

    Katie – Thanks! I’m so glad you liked it!

  10. lila

    I made something similar last night, but I used bulgur wheat instead of rice and broccolini broiled with garlic and olive oil instead of spinach. So I guess it wasn’t that similar, but did include white beans, pine nuts, and lemon. It was absolutely great–and when I brought the leftovers to the office for lunch today, my coworkers swarmed around my desk demanding bites.

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  14. Emily

    This is officially one of my favorite meals! Just tried it tonight. The combination of flavors is exponentially more impressive than the ingredients would imply. I cooked the rice in the afternoon, so it took me about 10 mins to throw together. I used spring greens instead of spinach (slightly cheaper). YUM.

  15. Brent

    My son and I just had this. So good, and surprisingly filling. We made it with brown and wild rice and and doubled the recipie. It took all of about 20 minutes to cook, and we have lots of leftover. Very simple and delicious meal that is now one of our favorites.

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