I’ve been all about batch cooking lately, for obvious reasons: new schedule, the organized, back-to-school September energy, minimal fondness of weeknight cooking. But no amount of meal prep dims the pleasure of throwing together something spontaneous and surprisingly good. That’s how this dish of coconut brown rice, black beans & sweet potato with cilantro cashew lime sauce turned out at the end of last week, just when I needed a little comfort food.
Spontaneous might be misleading—nearly everything here is a riff on something I’ve made before and liked. The rice is inspired by the rice that’s a part of the sweet potato bowls in Power Plates, and one of my go-to rice dishes at home since the book was written. I soak white or brown long grain rice for an hour or two, rinse it, and then sauté it with a little oil until it smells nutty. I add water and salt and cook as directed, then season it with lime and extra salt as needed, sometimes a smidge of agave (sounds weird, but so good).
This time, I added toasted coconut flakes, which pair perfectly with the lime, and I folded in black beans for protein. It would have been a great side dish on its own, but I added roasted sweet potatoes for more nutrition and to make the dish more complete, along with plenty of chopped cilantro. The final touch? A tangy, creamy, and 4-ingredient cashew cilantro lime sauce, much simpler than many of my dressings, but a new staple for me for sure.
There’s so much I love about this meal: the tender sweet potatoes, the wonderful scent of the rice, the brightness and color of the sauce to offset all of the earthy, starchy goodness. Not a super original meal, nothing fancy, but on Friday night when I made it, it was exactly what I wanted: something just familiar and comforting enough, with a few new-to-me touches. Here’s the recipe.
- 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons neutral vegetable oil, such as grapeseed or refined avocado
- 1 lb about 3 cups sweet potato, scrubbed and cubed
- Salt and pepper as needed
- 1 cup long grain brown rice, soaked for an hour or two if possible, drained
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1/3 cup toasted coconut flakes or regular coconut flakes
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped, packed cilantro leaves
- 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (1 can, drained and rinsed)
For the 4-ingredient cilantro cashew lime sauce:
- 1/3 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for 2 hours, drained (about 1 1/2 ounces)
- 1 cup cilantro, leaves and stems
- 3 tablespoons lime juice (about 1 large, juicy lime)
- 1/3 cup water, more as needed
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat your oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment. Toss the sweet potato cubes with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Spread the cubes on the baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 minutes, or until the potatoes are crispy and gently browning. Remove them from heat.
While the potatoes cook, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil in a medium sized saucepan or pot over medium heat. Add the brown rice. Toast the rice for about 3 minutes, or until it’s smelling nutty. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 2 cups water. Bring the water to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 25-35 minutes, or until the rice is tender and the water is absorbed. Remove the rice from heat and allow it to sit for 10 minutes, still covered.
To make the sauce, blend all ingredients together in a powerful blender till smooth. Add a tablespoon of extra water as needed, if the mixture is very thick.
Fluff the rice gently with a fork. Add the lime juice, coconut flakes, cilantro, and black beans. Fold everything together, then taste the rice and add additional lime juice, salt, and pepper to your liking.
Arrange the rice and bean mixture and the roasted potatoes on a serving platter (or in serving bowls). Drizzle the platter with the cilantro cashew lime sauce. Serve.
A note about soaking the rice first: it’s not a vital step, but I find that it’s worth doing if I can because it cuts down on the rice’s simmering time. I also tend to think—and maybe this is in my head—that it makes the rice more tender and fluffy once it’s cooked (sautéing the rice definitely helps with that, too).
In other news, I loved what everyone had to say about the value of slowing down and taking things one day, one moment, one task at a time. I think I’ve mentioned that I’ve been making my way through two Melody Beattie books this year, The Language of Letting Go and Journey to the Heart. They’re both wonderful, comprised of daily meditations that I’ve been digesting sequentially, one at a time. I read the following last week, from The Language of Letting Go:
One thing at a time.
That’s all we have to do. Not two things at once, but one thing done in peace.
One task at a time. One feeling at a time. One day at a time. One problem at a time. One step at a time.
One pleasure at a time.
Relax. Let go of urgency. Begin calmly now. Take one thing at a time.
See how everything works out?
“One thing done in peace” may well become my motto this year. Even today, as I began a new week, I invited myself to focus on daily tasks only one-by-one. I worked more quickly and with more confidence than usual.
One thing—one project, one to-do, one meal, one recipe—done in peace. Here’s to a week experienced in that spirit. Happy Monday, friends, and if you make the rice & beans, I hope you’ll like ’em as much as I do!