Somehow serving food in bowls automatically makes the meal feel more comforting and the food feel more abundant. I also love that bowls are customizable and each person can craft theirs just the way that suits them.
The flavors of this cuban rice bowl with creamy black beans, fluffy coconut rice and fresh mango salsa makes me want to Salsa—that is, learn to. I don’t dance, at all.
The chicken is the hero of this dish— marinated in lime and orange juices, garlic, cilantro and cumin. It smells good enough that I almost forget *not* to lick my fingers when I’m pouring it over the uncooked chicken.
Even though these bowls have 4 components (okay 5 if you count the red onions), they are each so incredibly simple (20 minutes each) that if you are even moderately experienced in the kitchen you can have several going at once, or make them all ahead of time.
This is an easy meal for company:
- Marinate chicken night before
- Make mango salsa in the morning
- Dice onions while you’re at it
- Make rice 30 minutes before company arrives
- Make beans while rice cooks
- Cook chicken as company arrives
It’s a colorful feast for the eyes and has a satisfying variety of flavors and textures. This would also be a great lunch for the week, portioned into 4 or more to-go containers.
Check out my video at the bottom for a simple trick on how to cut a mango!
Easy Cuban Rice Bowls
For the chicken:
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (if you are doubling this recipe, see note)
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 red chile (a green jalepeno is okay too) seeded, roughly chopped
- 3/4 cup orange juice
- 4 limes juiced + zest of 1 lime
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce (use tamari if gluten free)
- 1/2 cup cilantro
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the coconut rice:
- 1 1/2 cups uncooked rice (I use jasmine)
- 1 can coconut milk
- 3/4 can water (use coconut milk can)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
For the black beans:
- 2 15 oz cans black beans drained and rinsed
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- kosher salt to taste
For the mango salsa
- 2 mangoes diced
- 2 red chiles (green jalepenos are okay too) seeded and finely diced
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro chopped
- 1 lime juiced
- diced red onion (rinsed under cold water) for garnish
For the chicken:
Combine all marinade ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Cut chicken into 1 inch (bite size) pieces. Place chicken in a shallow dish and pour marinade over chicken. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours, or up to 24 hours.
Heat a teaspoon of oil in a large skillet over high heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade, letting the excess marinade drip off as much as possible before placing the chicken in the pan. Brown the chicken in batches (if the pan is overcrowded or there is too much marinade liquid, the chicken will steam instead of getting those tasty brown edges). Sprinkle each batch of chicken with a bit more salt as it is cooking.
For the rice:
Add rice, coconut milk, water and salt to a saucepan with a lid. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to a low, low simmer. Simmer with the lid on for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, and continue to allow the rice to "cook" for another 5 minutes with the lid on. Remove from heat and fluff when ready to eat.
For the black beans:
Warm oil in a sauté pan over medium heat and add the minced garlic. Cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant but not brown. Add the beans and salt and warm through. If you want the beans a little more "saucy" add another drizzle of olive oil. (see note for an alternative method for cooking dried beans)
For the mango salsa:
Combine diced mango, minced chile, chopped cilantro and lime juice. Toss to mix well.
*Note* I have used the same amount of marinade for up to 8 chicken breast, so you can double the chicken without doubling the marinade
***Alternative cooking method for dry black beans***
Soak 1 1/2 cups of beans over night in a big pot of water.
Next day: Drain beans. Return beans to pot and refill pot with fresh water, covering beans by about 2 inches.
Add a quartered onion, a teaspoon of black pepper, a bay leaf and 4 cloves of garlic, smashed.
Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Simmer for 4-6 hours until they are silky smooth and soft when you bite them. Once they are soft, drain some of the liquid so they aren't soup. Then add salt.... usually quite a bit, so don't be shy about seasoning them properly. Keep tasting them and adding more salt if they don't sing. Salt makes food taste like itself!
Recipe adapted from Half Baked Harvest