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Mexican rice with cilantro pesto

This Mexican-inspired rice dish is super simple, with an easy coriander (cilantro) pesto and black beans. It serves as either a side dish or a vegetarian main course, and can be made in just 20 minutes!

Mexican rice with cilantro pesto and black beand in a white bowl, topped with avocado and cherry tomatoes.

I love dishes like this Mexican rice. Not only is it inspired by my favourite cuisine (definitely not authentic, but who’s complaining?), but it’s also so, so simple and so, so easy. And you know how I like easy. I’m sure I’m getting more and more lazy as the years go by – but even I can manage this quick 20 minute dish! (Though if I ever get to the point where I can’t even manage to spend 20 minutes on dinner, I will revel in ordering pizza every single night)

Mexican rice with cilantro pesto, in a saucepan with black beans and fresh cilantro.
What’s in this Mexican rice?

There are a few main elements to this dish:

– rice (I used white rice, but brown rice would be great too!)
– black beans (tinned, obviously)
– an easy homemade cilantro pesto
– …yeah, that’s about it.

This dish may be super simple, but it’s also really effective. Don’t go thinking that just because it’s simple, it will be boring – far from it. Sometimes less is more.

Mexican rice with cilantro pesto, black beans and sunflower seeds in a saucepan

Cilantro pesto

Pesto is usually made with fresh basil, but switching it for fresh coriander (cilantro) in this recipe really adds a pop of citrussy freshness, and keeps with the Mexican-style theme.

It’s super quick to make – pop just a few ingredients in a mini food processor, and blitz. It’s ready in seconds.

As well as the cilantro, you’ll need some garlic (just a small clove, as it’s going in raw!), veggie parmesan cheese, and some kind of nut or seed. I used sunflower seeds, which worked really well, but just about anything will do. Traditionally, you’d use pine nuts, but there’s not much that’s traditional about this dish, so I say just use whatever you have on hand.

The end result is a creamy, cheesy cilantro pesto that really elevates plain white rice to something a bit special.

Mexican rice with cilantro pesto and black beans in a white bowl topped with avocado and cherry tomatoes.

How would I serve this Mexican rice?

The great thing about this dish is that it’s really versatile.

If you’re having a party and serving a big Mexican feast, it makes a great side dish – it’s a bit more interesting than just offering plain rice. A big scoop of this would be amazing alongside some enchiladas!

Or, it also works really well as a standalone dish, if you’re not expecting guests. It’s got protein from the black beans and sunflower seeds, so you don’t really need to serve it with anything else at all – perhaps just a few cherry tomatoes and some sliced avocado to add a bit of interest.

And that’s all there is to it! This Mexican rice is super simple, but has tons of flavour, and is a great recipe to have on stand-by for any number of occasions.

Mexican rice with cilantro pesto and black beans in a white bowl, topped with avocado and cherry tomatoes

Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Mexican rice with cilantro pesto and black beans

This Mexican-inspired rice dish is super simple, with an easy coriander (cilantro) pesto and black beans. It serves as either a side dish or a vegetarian main course, and can be made in just 20 minutes!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 2 people
Calories: 435kcal
Author: Becca Heyes

Ingredients

  • 150 g (~ 2/3 cup) long-grain white rice

For the cilantro pesto:

  • 1 small clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 tbsp sunflower seeds (or pine nuts)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp finely grated vegetarian parmesan-style cheese
  • Small bunch fresh coriander (cilantro)
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp water

To assemble:

  • 120 g (~ 2/3 cup) cooked black beans (I used tinned)
  • 1 tbsp sunflower seeds (or pine nuts)

Instructions

  • Boil the rice in plenty of water, until soft, then drain.
  • While the rice is cooking, prepare the cilantro pesto. Add the garlic, sunflower seeds, parmesan, coriander (cilantro), and olive oil to a mini food processor, and blitz thoroughly, scraping down the sides if necessary. Add a little water and blitz again to get the consistency you want - it should be a thick paste.
  • To assemble the dish, add the cilantro pesto to the cooked rice, along with the tinned black beans and a few more sunflower seeds. Mix thoroughly, and serve warm.

 

Nutrition Facts
Mexican rice with cilantro pesto and black beans
Amount Per Serving (1 portion)
Calories 435 Calories from Fat 94
% Daily Value*
Fat 10.4g16%
Saturated Fat 2g10%
Cholesterol 3mg1%
Sodium 152mg6%
Potassium 302mg9%
Carbohydrates 72.9g24%
Fiber 5.6g22%
Sugar 0.2g0%
Protein 12g24%
Calcium 70mg7%
Iron 1.8mg10%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

Note: Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on exactly what ingredients you choose. Information above is for 1/2 the recipe.

 

You only need half a tin of black beans for this recipe – why not put the rest into my cheesy bean bake?

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Recipe Rating




Ttrockwood

Friday 5th of October 2018

This was amazing!!! I skipped the parm, and added more fresh cilantro ontop cuz i am crazy obsessed with it... I actually sliced some big chunks of bell pepper i used as scoopers to eat it since i need some veggies. So good! Ended up being three lunches for me with some veg. Put it ontop of some baby spinach another day which was great since the spinach wilts a bit

Becca @ Amuse Your Bouche

Friday 5th of October 2018

Sounds great, I'm so glad you enjoyed it! :)

jes

Saturday 8th of March 2014

Wow! This is so rich and delicious! I don't know why I thought it would be lighter but it really could be a meal itself. I used brown rice (didn't have white) and topped with avocado, cooked it longer, and it turned out great. thanks!

Cleodhna

Monday 28th of May 2012

This looks so good. The cooking method is very like what you'd do with a risotto, and I always like experimenting with those. I'll have to try this-- I like Smith's suggestions about avocado and lime! Always good with black beans. I tend to make mine up from dry too-- nothing wrong with tinned, but I like cooking them, and they're just that little bit nicer, I think.

Smith

Monday 28th of May 2012

Rice and beans is probably my favourite combination ever, and I'd been meaning to try coriander pesto for a while now, so I just had to make this, not to mention your pictures are so very inviting. I couldn't stop thinking about it last night, when I started the beans and pesto, but I didn't have a chance to bring it all together until today. I was a bit hesitant at first, as though I love the components of pesto, I've always hated them combined - be it basil, rocket, mint or parsley - but coriander is just something else, this is definitely the pesto for me.

I skipped out on the parmesan (didn't have any), added extra coriander, and used lightly toasted almonds instead of pine nuts, and the result was zingy and flavourful without any of the heavy undertone I usually associate with pesto. Used some soaked and boiled beans (with onion, garlic, bay leaf) instead of canned, then just added bouillon to the leftover water. I topped it with avocado and a spritz of lime as well as spring onions and cherry tomatoes. So good. A delight to eat, creamy melt-in-your-mouth delicious, with that coriander zing and freshness to keep it from being too heavy, but completely satisfying. Thank you for sharing this, I might be hooked.

Becca @ Amuse Your Bouche

Monday 28th of May 2012

Thanks so much for the feedback, and I'm glad you made it your own - I can never follow a recipe word for word :) Really pleased that you enjoyed it!

Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious

Sunday 27th of May 2012

Wow, this looks like such a flavorful dish! I love making pesto since you could put it on everything! Will have to try this soon! I feel like it'd be amazing by itself or stuffed in burritos. Yum!

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