Hearty Red and Green Rice and Beans with Pesto

Close up of a white bowl filled with rice and beans

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Keep pesto on hand, and this tasty meal comes together quickly. It makes a big batch, so you’ll get several meals taken care of at once.

  • Author: Veg Girl RD
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 20 mins
  • Yield: 7 1x
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Diet: Vegetarian


  • 4 1/2 cups cooked short-grain brown rice, cooked in vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cans black beans, drained (approximately 2 1/2 to 3 cups)
  • 1 12-ounce bag frozen petite green peas, thawed (about 2 1/4 cups)
  • 1 cup quartered cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup basil pesto sauce
  • 2 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese, grated and more for serving (about 1 1/2 cups grated on a microplane grater)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add onion and cook over medium heat until soft, about 5-6 minutes.
  2. Stir in rice, beans, peas, tomatoes, pesto, and cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Serve topped with a bit of cheese grated right on top.


I used a rice cooker to prepare the rice ahead of time: starting with 3 scoops/cups short-grain brown rice, filling the cooker to line 3 with water, stirring in enough bouillon powder for 2 cups broth, and running the brown rice setting. You could also do it on the stove-top following the directions on the bag.

You can up the pesto if you prefer a stronger basil flavor, but it significantly increases the fat and calories which is why I’ve compromised with 1/3 cup.

I’d recommend weighing the grated cheese to be sure you get 2 ounces. Grating with a microplane grater adds a lot of air, so mine ended up being a billowy 1 1/2 cups. But regular pre-grated Parmesan cheese will have less volume to equal 2 ounces.

Adapted from Cooking Light’s recipe for Rice and Beans with Pesto.


Keywords: rice and beans, pesto, vegetarian