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Brown rice (Recipe: black bean and brown rice burrito) {vegetarian}

Black bean and brown rice burrito

In the early 1970s, when I lived in an apartment in a college town, my roommates and I discovered health food stores.

Those were the places where you bought your "green" things (organic food, exotic tea, recycled everything) and your "brown" things (brown rice, whole wheat flour, wheat germ).

Health food stores are fewer and farther between today, when both green and brown things are available not only in Whole Foods and some big-box stores, but also in small markets like the one in our village.

I'm grateful, though, to that store near my college apartment for introducing me to brown rice. Without it, I'd never have made The Enchanted Broccoli Forest

Brown rice, which tastes a bit nutty and sweet, is also a bit trickier to cook than long-grain white rice, and it takes longer (45-50 minutes) to steam. I buy Nishiki short-grain brown rice in the Asian foods section of my regular grocery store, and make a big batch in my rice cooker, following the rice cooker directions on the package (one cup of rice to three cups of water). It couldn't be easier.

What is brown rice?
Brown rice is white rice that hasn't been stripped of all of its layers. Only the outermost layer, the hull, is removed in processing, leaving behind the bran and germ layers where most of the nutrients reside. Because of the natural oils in rice, it will turn rancid if not stored properly.

Where/how to store?
Uncooked rice: remove unused rice from original packaging and place in an airtight container, in a cool, dry part of the pantry, for up to 3 months. For longer storage, freeze for up to 1 year. Cooked rice: refrigerate immediately, and use within 3 days, or freeze for longer storage.

More facts about brown rice, and ingredient photo, on The Perfect Pantry:
Brown rice (Recipe: vegetable fried rice)

Black bean and brown rice burrito

Black bean and brown rice burrito

Inspired by many recipes online, this vegetarian burrito is easy to put together if you have brown rice cooked in advance. Use canned beans if you must, but just like the rice, beans can be cooked and stored in the fridge or freezer ahead of time. A bit of shredded rotisserie chicken could get tucked in here and there, too, but you absolutely don't need it. Serves 6 (one burrito per person).


1-2 Tbsp canola oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp tsp cumin
3 cups cooked brown rice
2 cups cooked black beans*, or 1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
6 8-inch oat bran or whole wheat tortillas
3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (I use 0% fat)
2 green onions, sliced thin
1 avocado, diced
1/2 cup of your favorite prepared salsa, plus extra for topping


Heat the oil in large nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Add onion, and sauté for 2-3 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic, chili powder and cumin, and cook 1-2 minutes until the onion is tender. Add rice and beans. Cook, stirring, 2-3 minutes until the mixture is thoroughly heated. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove pan from the heat.

To assemble, set out the tortillas on a counter top or individual plates. Spoon 1/2 cup of the rice mixture down the center of each tortilla. Top each with shredded cheese, a drizzle of yogurt, a sprinkling of green onion and avocado, and a bit of salsa. Roll the tortilla up like an eggroll (fold the sides in, then roll up as best you can), and top with more salsa, if desired.

*Note: 2 cups of black beans, cooked, is not the same as 2 cups of cooked beans. If you measure the beans dry, and then cook them, the volume will double.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Chicken or turkey fried rice
Lentils and brown rice

Other recipes that use brown rice:
Brown rice casserole with leftover turkey (or chicken), mushrooms, sour cream, cheese, and thyme, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Spanish rice bake with brown rice, from Gluten-Free Goddess
Brown rice medley pilaf with apples, walnuts and pomegranate seeds, from Christine Cooks
Asparagus and mushroom quiche with a brown rice crust, from Fat-Free Vegan Kitchen
Peanuts and brown rice with Asian dressing, from eCurry

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


Thank for the new recipe! Speaking of rice, I was wondering what your rice cooker of choice is? I have very cheap one that I got a Walmart to check out, but it always seems to burn the brown rice around the edges of the bottom of the pan, I have been wanting to replace it and would like to get some feedback on it before I make a choice. Thank you for all the effort you put into your blogs. Really love "Soup Chick" too!

My early cooking days were in Berkeley and Ann Arbor, where the local "health food" stores of the sort you mentioned were dogmatic and dubious. I was very happy when more responsible stores replaced them. Their merchandise -- e.g. bread -- was often spoiled because they believed in no preservatives, but didn't handle it any different than Wonder Bread. The produce was really pathetic no matter what standard you applied. The bins of loose grain harbored moths. I know all the downside of mass market whatever, but still I'm glad for Whole Foods.

the photo looks so yummy, I love the way you stage the toppings

I am quite the fan of brown rice, and recently learned that it cooks perfectly in my digital pressure cooker. So I'm able to make up big batches and use it throughout the week.

Delicious recipe! and I have to chuckle at Mae's comment above....my mother was way ahead of everybody being a steadfast vegetarian and naturalist. (over 40 years and counting.) I remember being dragged to obscure stores long before Whole Foods came to town (which still hasn't actually arrived in NH where I grew up in the 70s) to seek out all kinds of things and Mae's comment is refreshingly honest and true!
I was the only kid in school that was making and eating Tabbouleh at age 8 and brown rice was the only rice in our life!
(much to my mother's dismay she wasn't able to convince me or my brother to be vegetarians but we sure eat healthy because of her!)

We've greatly increased our brown rice consumption since I discovered Alton Brown's baking method. 1 1/2 cups brown rice (or 1 cup brown and 1/2 cup wild), 2 1/2 cups liquid (water or broth), salt optional, in a 9x9 glass cake pan. Cover with foil. Bake 1 hour at 375. Presto! Brown rice. No boiling over. No scorching. No drama. I don't bother with his pre-heat the water step. I just throw it all in the pan cold and plop in the oven. A shorter version works for white rice.

I love brown rice and black beans both, so this is a winner for me! I do remember the days when Salt Lake only had one "health food" restaurant and every dish came with brown rice (and sprouts of course!)

I freeze brown rice, making a big batch, letting it cool, then filling ziplock bags in meal-sized portions. I press the filled bags flat and seal, getting as much air out of it as possible. Once the rice is frozen, the bags can be stored vertically or stacked horizontally. A few minutes in the microwave gives you brown rice that tastes fresh and wonderful.

Yum! I need to eat more brown rice again- I adore it but I've fallen out of favor with it as I've been doing a lot more asian cooking recently.

an @Mae- a lot of the reason produce back then was so pathetic was because of lack of innovation when it comes to organic farming, too. Organic produce has come a LONG way.

I love brown rice, but rarely cook it because it requires some much pre-planning. Though I really like Heidi's method.... I'll have to try that.

Heidi's "Alton Brown method" of cooking brown rice was interesting (I must remember to watch his show more often).

Lydia, this recipe sounds so good. After the birth of my first child, I had over 50 pounds to lose. Thanks to a lot of brown rice, baked chicken, fresh veggies, & 3-5 mile daily walks (plus 30 min of aerobics each day), I lost 30 of those pounds in 3 months. The rest came off more gradually. Needless to say, brown rice has had a special place in my heart (& with my scale). Thanks for the reminder to implement more of it into my diet again (the decrease of physical activity due to a long, cold & snowy winter hasn't done my hips any favors).

We eat white rice at home as a staple, but I've always heard about the health benefits of brown rice. This is something I hope to try really soon. The burrito looks inviting :)

Mary Beth, I have a few rice cookers, all purchased at my local Asian grocery store for less than $50 (no fuzzy logic machines here!). Brown ice, because it takes longer to cook, often gets a bit brown around the edges. Try making a larger amount (you can freeze the leftovers); it works better in the cooker.

Mae, your comment brings back vivid memories of the health food stores of my college days. There are definitely some things Whole Foods does better!

Beverly, thanks!

TW, I am inching closer to buying a pressure cooker. Not there yet, but inching.

Carol, I think you've found a few kindred spirits here, judging by the comments on this post. You were way ahead of the curve!

Heidi, what a great method. I'm going to try it. Alton Brown often changes the way we look at cooking, doesn't he?

Kalyn, brown rice was the signature of "health food" restaurants everywhere. I think it got a bad rep because of that, but in fact it's a wonderful food that we don't eat enough.

Angela, I like to freeze things in small containers, too. The ziplocs are a great idea -- like ready-to-eat meals.

Bronwyn, you are so right about organic farming -- and storage methods -- having come a long way.

Julia, same here. The baking method sounds even easier than my rice cooker, which is pretty darned easy.

Sandie, it's great to hear that brown rice really worked for you as part of a healthy weight-loss plan. That will be motivating for a lot of people.

Noobcook, these burritos were so easy and really delicious. The Greek yogurt (in place of the typical sour cream) made them healthier and really brought the flavors together.

You really brought me back to my art school days. I used to shop at a little food co-op called Stone Soup. I'd buy brown rice, ginger tea, local honey. Brown rice and beans saved my life on more than once occasion during those frugal days. Wish I'd had tortillas back then to make these burritos- they look delicious. Beautiful!

Burrito looks delicious! I often cook brown rice in my Presto stove top pressure cooker - only 12 minutes cooking time! Usually I cook 2 cups at a time and freeze the extra. It is best to freeze brown rice by itself without any sauce or gravy on it. It's the extra liquid in the sauce/gravy that makes the rice seem mushy after thawing.

Mmm, what a delicious way to eat healthy!

Black bean burritos are one of my favorite go-to recipes. Definitely going to add in brown rice next time!

years ago at one point i only made brown rice as I was fond of its texture. Your pretty burrito now makes me feel like to cook it more again.

Karina, the whole "health food store" image definitely resonates with people our age, doesn't it? Every college town seemed to have at least one.

Teresa, another vote for the pressure cooker. I really have to get over my anxiety about it.

Natashya, these are pretty darned good, and they don't feel "healthy" at all!

Michelle, now that I have a slow cooker, I make big batches of black beans and freeze them. Makes dishes like this one practically instant.

Gattina, I too don't make brown rice as much as I used to. I plan to change that!

This looks really delicious! Will be giving this a go. On the topic of black beans, I like the idea of using refried beans, I tried to make a quesadilla. I'm still no overly happy with them yet. Do you have a recipe for a tasty way to use a can of refried beans?

Looks delicious and you seem to be an expert burrito roller!

This looks delicious! I love health food stores and wish there was a lot more of them.

I used to eat brown rice more often. Need to get back to the wagon! This is a very lovely dish, Lydia. These ingredients are not too hard to find or substitute, too.

This recipe sounds delicious! Thank you for sharing. I love black beans recipes. Check out http://shelflifeadvice.com to learn about the shelf life of brown rice and black beans.


Amcken, if you feel that way, go ahead and use any neutral oil in this recipe.

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