A Search for Great Vegan Food in San Diego

Coconut Rice, Black Beans, and Fried Plantains

I just got back from my wedding/vacation in Costa Rica.  Best trip ever.  I loved everything Costa Rica — the people, the weather, the beaches, the jungle, and of course the vegan food!  Costa Rica reminded me how delicious, fresh, simple food can taste.  So this recipe for coconut rice, black beans, and fried plantains goes back to the basics.


Coconut Rice


First up is the coconut rice.  Just a few ingredients, and you’re ready to begin!


[caption id="attachment_2099" align="alignnone" width="640"]Coconut Rice Ingredients Coconut Rice Ingredients[/caption]


Saute the onions….


[caption id="attachment_2106" align="alignnone" width="640"]Onions for Coconut Rice Onions for Coconut Rice[/caption]


Then add the coconut milk and white rice to the saucepan.


[caption id="attachment_2107" align="alignnone" width="640"]Cooking Coconut Rice Cooking Coconut Rice[/caption]


After about 20 minutes, you will have tender and soft rice with a creamy, coconut flavor.


[caption id="attachment_2108" align="alignnone" width="640"]Coconut Rice Coconut Rice[/caption]


Black Beans


Next, it’s time for the black beans.  I love how many good veggies go into this dish!


[caption id="attachment_2100" align="alignnone" width="640"]Black Beans Ingredients Black Beans Ingredients[/caption]


Start by sauteing the veggies,


[caption id="attachment_2102" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegetables in Black Beans Vegetables in Black Beans[/caption]


And after a few minutes, you’ll have a beautiful rainbow of color in your saucepan.


[caption id="attachment_2103" align="alignnone" width="640"]Sautéing Veggies in Black Beans Sautéing Veggies in Black Beans[/caption]


After you’ve strained the soaked black beans, add them to the vegetable broth and veggie mixture.  Don’t forget to add a piece of kombu! Kombu is a sea vegetable that should be added to the pot whenever beans are being prepared, because it helps make the beans more digestible.  It is sold dehydrated in most health food stores.  Or you can, of course, buy it online.



To learn more about kombu, check out:



[caption id="attachment_2104" align="alignnone" width="640"]Adding Black Beans Adding Black Beans[/caption]


Bring the mixture to a boil and then simmer until the liquid is absorbed by the beans.  These beans will be savory, full of flavor, and completely unlike the bland, lifeless beans often served in restaurants.


[caption id="attachment_2105" align="alignnone" width="640"]Simmering Black Beans Simmering Black Beans[/caption]


Fried Plantains


If you’ve never had a plantain before, you are missing out.  They look like bananas but have a starchier texture.  How can you tell when a plantain is ripe?  They’re softer with black spots.

For more information on plantains, check out:



[caption id="attachment_2101" align="alignnone" width="640"]Fried Plantains Ingredients Fried Plantains Ingredients[/caption]


Peel open the plantain like a banana and begin to cut it into thin slices.  Place the plantain pieces into greased frying pan and in a few minutes you’ll have some truly delicious treats.


[caption id="attachment_2109" align="alignnone" width="640"]Cooking Fried Plantains Cooking Fried Plantains[/caption]


The coconut rice, black beans, and fried plantains make for a delicious lunch or dinner.  I love making this dish on a Sunday, so I have leftovers for the rest of the week!


[caption id="attachment_2110" align="alignnone" width="640"]Fried Plantains with Coconut Rice and Black Beans Fried Plantains with Coconut Rice and Black Beans[/caption]



Coconut Rice, Black Beans, and Fried Plantains
  • 1.5 tablespoons canola oil
  • ½ cup finely chopped red onion
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 cups long-grain white rice
  • 2 cups black beans, soaked overnight
  • 1.5 tablespoons canola oil
  • ½ cup chopped bell pepper
  • ½ tablespoon finely chopped jalapeno
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • ¼ cup finely chopped red onion
  • ¼ cup finely chopped carrot
  • ⅛ cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • ½ inch piece of kombu
  • 2 ripe plantains
  • 1 tablespoon of Earth Balance
  2. Heat canola oil in saucepan on medium heat. Add red onion and stir until soft and translucent.
  3. Add water and coconut milk.
  4. Bring mixture to a boil and stir in rice.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer mixture.
  6. Cover saucepan and cook until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender -- approximately 20 minutes.
  7. Remove rice from heat and serve immediately or allow to cool and store in airtight container.
  9. Take soaked beans and strain water.
  10. Place beans, vegetable broth, water, bay leaf, and piece of kombu in large pot.
  11. Bring to a boil and then turn down heat and simmer.
  12. Add bell pepper, jalapeno, garlic, onion, carrot, and celery to saucepan and saute until soft.
  13. Add vegetable mixture to large pot along with the cumin and coriander.
  14. Allow beans and other ingredients to simmer until beans are soft -- approximately 1 hour.
  16. Peel plantains and cut into thin pieces.
  17. Melt Earth Balance in frying pan over medium heat.
  18. When the Earth Balance begins to sizzle, add plantains.
  19. Flip plantains occasionally until golden.


  • umroh 2015 says:

    Hmmm it looks delicious… I will try

  • Jorjann says:

    Exactly how big of a piece of kombu should I use? The pieces seem to be about 4-5 inches long. Do I use 1/2 inch wide x 4-5 inches long, or 1/2 inch square piece? I’ve never used it before.

    • emily says:

      I usually use around a 2 inch piece of kombu and it’s always worked well! It’s definitely not an exact science!

      • Jorjann says:

        Thank you for responding. Another quick question — is it going to give my black beans a fishy flavor? My husband can’t stand fishy-ness, and when I told him what it was, he made an ugly face.

        • Emily says:

          I do not think kombu adds a fishy flavor. And especially for this dish, I think all of the spices that would cover up any fishy flavor that did exist. Maybe try it once and see how it goes? Good luck!

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