This Mexican-inspired vegan rice casserole is made with simple pantry staples and practically cooks itself. Add guac and tortilla strips for a burrito bowl vibe.
The inception of this baked rice dish was inspired by a Bon Appetit story about rice and the various ways it’s used in West Africa. The article featured a handful of recipes I’d never heard of before and I swear, I started drooling as soon as I turned the page to this mbahal. A mixture of rice, black-eyed peas, and okra with a “risotto-like” texture, it looked so good, I couldn’t get it out of my mind for days.
Then I got curious about cooking rice in the oven – something I’ve never tried before. After a couple of tests, I came up with this Mexican-inspired vegan rice casserole with veggies and black beans. Obviously, it’s nothing like the mbahal I was initially inspired by, but the two rice-and-beans dishes do have that creamy “risotto” texture in common. Let’s jump in!
Why You Should Make This Vegan Rice Casserole
- It’s delicious. Latin flavors everyone loves.
- Super simple to make. Only 10 minutes of active cooking time – the oven does the rest of the work. It’s great for meal prep (the rice lasts all week in the fridge) and ideal for work-from-home dinner prep: get it in the oven at 4, return to work, have dinner on the table by 5:30.
- Affordable. Most of the ingredients are pantry staples, with a just few fresh items thrown in – i.e. you can feed a crowd without spending a ton.
What’s In This Recipe
This easy Latin-inspired rice bake consists of brown rice, black beans, corn, onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms. It’s flavored with cumin, garlic, and smoked paprika. The cooking liquid is a combo of vegetable broth and tomato sauce. After an hour and a half in the oven, you get a hearty, vegan, risotto-like rice. Add guacamole and tortilla strips for a burrito bowl vibe.
Vegan Rice Casserole Step-by-Step
Cook the Vegetables: Heat some oil in the largest skillet/saucepan you have and add sliced onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms with a bit of salt. Cook until the vegetables are soft and lightly brown, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add minced garlic and spices, and cook for a few more seconds.
Combine all the Ingredients: Transfer the vegetables to a casserole dish (How beautiful is this one?! I’m always amazed that it’s non-stick, too.) and add brown rice, frozen corn, a can of black beans, tomato sauce, and vegetable broth, and season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
Bake: Cover the dish tightly with foil and place in a 350ºF preheated oven. Cook for 1 hour and 30 minutes (don’t stir or peek during cooking).
Set Aside: Once the casserole comes out of the oven, set it aside and leave it covered for ~20 minutes longer so the rice can absorb the steam remaining in the dish.
Fluff and Serve: Lastly, fluff the rice with a fork. Avoid stirring too vigorously to prevent the rice from getting sticky.
While this vegan rice casserole is technically a complete meal on its own, topping it with guacamole and tortilla strips takes it to the next level. If you’re feeling too lazy to make guac, top with avocado slices, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime instead; store-bought tortilla chips can be crushed on top too. A side salad or some sauteed greens are also good ideas. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
More vegan dinners…
- Farro Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
- Tofu Kimchi Soup
- Black Bean Bowls with Plantains
- Mujadara (Brown Rice and Lentils)
Let me know if you try this recipe! Give it a rating below and leave a comment, and don’t forget to tag your creation with @thenewbaguette on Instagram.Print
A Mexican-inspired rice and beans casserole that practically cooks itself.
For the Casserole
- 2 tablespoons olive or avocado oil
- 1 large yellow onion, sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, sliced
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, divided
- 4 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
- 2 cups brown rice (short or long grain)
- One 14-ounce can black beans
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup frozen corn
- One 8-ounce can tomato sauce (or crushed tomatoes)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Guacamole (or avocado, lime wedges, and cilantro), for serving
For the Tortilla Strips (optional)
- 4 taco-size corn tortillas
- About 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- A pinch of fine sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, pepper, mushrooms, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft and lightly brown, about 10 minutes. Then add 4 minced garlic cloves, 2 teaspoons cumin, 1 teaspoon paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes, and cook for 30 seconds more.
- Meanwhile, place 2 cups rice in a mesh strainer and rinse under running water. Drain well and transfer to a 9×13″ casserole dish. Then drain and rinse the beans, and add to the rice.
- Transfer the vegetables to the casserole and add 1 cup corn, the tomato sauce and broth, 1/4 teaspoon salt and lots of black pepper. Stir to combine. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes. (Casserole is ready when the rice is cooked through and all the liquid is absorbed).
- Meanwhile, make the tortilla strips (optional). Place 1 tortilla on a cutting board and lightly brush both sides with oil. Place another tortilla on top of the greased one and brush the top with oil; continue stacking and brushing all tortillas. Slice the stack into 1/3-inch strips. Transfer to a baking sheet and arrange in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt. Bake until the tortillas are lightly brown and crispy, flipping once halfway through baking, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool before serving.
- Take the casserole out of the oven, leave covered, and set aside for 15 more minutes (without stirring), to allow the rice to absorb the steam remaining in the dish.
- Fluff rice with a fork (avoid stirring too vigorously to prevent the rice from getting sticky). Serve with guac and tortilla strips.
- Serving Size: 1/8 of the recipe (without toppings)
- Calories: 295
- Fat: 5.3 g
- Carbohydrates: 53.7 g
- Fiber: 5.5 g
- Protein: 8.2 g
Keywords: mexican, baked, rice, casserole, vegan