Monday, June 17, 2013

Slow Cooker Vegan Brown Rice Mexican Bowl with Black Beans, Bell Peppers, and Poblano-Avocado Salsa

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Slow Cooker Vegetarian Brown Rice Mexican Bowl
Slow Cooker Brown Rice Mexican Bowls have a vibrant combination of flavors, with just enough spicy heat to keep it interesting!

I don't remember my mother cooking black beans when I was a kid, but sometime after I left home she must have started using them, because they became my father's favorite type of bean, and any dish that had black beans was something he would enjoy.  I was thinking about that as I missed him on Father's day, and remembered all the black bean salads I made for him the last few years of his life when he was in an assisted living center where I'd visit twice a week and cook lunch.  My dad could be a picky customer when it came to trying new dishes, and I doubt he ever heard of vegan food, but I'm betting he would have enjoyed these Slow Cooker Vegan Brown Rice Mexican Bowls with Black Beans, Bell Peppers, and Poblano-Avocado Salsa, if only because of the black beans, rice and avocados; three foods he always loved.   Using the slow cooker to cook the rice and then heat together the chopped peppers, green chiles, and black beans kept the house cool, and I thought one of these Mexican bowls made a perfect Slow Cooker Summer Dinner.

I actually didn't realize this was a vegan recipe until I started to type it up for the blog, but of course I did plan this as a Meatless Monday recipe, and although it took us a couple of tries to get it just right, Jake and I both loved this dish.  The black beans, rice, and avocado are three ingredients I love as much as my dad did, but if I had to pick *the* one ingredient that made this so good, it would be the finely-chopped Poblano pepper in the salsa.  I haven't cooked with Poblano Peppers that much, (also called Pasilla peppers in some U.S. stores),  but definitely they're an ingredient I'll be using again.  (You can find more meatless recipes by using the label Meatless Monday or checking Vegetarian Recipes, and I'm also doing a meatless slow cooker recipe each Monday on Slow Cooker from Scratch. For Meatless Monday ideas from other bloggers, check Meatless Monday at BlogHer, where I write a weekly post.)

Combine the brown rice and vegetable stock in the slow cooker.  (I used a can of vegetable stock and added a little water to make 2 cups.)

Add 1 cup of finely chopped onion and cook on high for about 1 1/2 hours (until the rice is nearly done, but not quite.)

While the rice cooks, prepare the finely chopped red and green bell pepper and get a small can of diced green chiles (anaheim chiles, not jalapenos.)

Also drain 2 cans of black beans into a colander and rinse until no more foam appears.  Let the beans drain well.

After 1 1/2 hours, fluff the brown rice with a fork.

Stir in the chopped red and green bell pepper, drained black beans, diced green chiles (with juice), and a little salt, and cook 30 minutes more (until the rice is tender.)

While the rice mixture cooks, chop the tomatoes, cilantro, Poblano pepper, and slice the green onions for the salsa.  (Fabulous chopping skills shown here are by Jake!)

Cut up one large or 2 small avocados and toss them with 1 T lime juice.

Then gently stir in the chopped tomato, chopped cilantro, chopped Poblano, sliced green onion, 2 T more lime juice, olive oil, cumin, and salt to taste to make the salsa.

When the slow cooker mixture is done, serve hot or warm, with a generous scoop of the Poblano-Avocado salsa on top.

Slow Cooker Vegan Brown Rice Mexican Bowl with Black Beans, Bell Peppers, and Poblano-Avocado Salsa
(Makes about 6 servings; recipe inspired by Mexican Barley and Black Beans in American Heart Association Healthy Slow Cooker Cookbook; we created the salsa recipe and adapted the other mixture quite a bit.)

I used my favorite 3 Quart Crock-Pot Slow Cooker for this recipe, but any slow cooker that's close to that size will work.

Slow Cooker Ingredients:
1 cup long-grain brown rice (I used Uncle Ben's Brown Rice)
2 cups vegetable stock (I used a can of vegetable broth and a little water to make 2 cups)
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 red bell pepper, chopped small
1 green bell pepper, chopped small
1 can (4 oz.) diced green chiles plus juice (Anaheim chiles, not jalapenos)
2 cans (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed well and drained
salt to taste

Salsa Ingredients:
1/2 cup diced tomato
1 large Poblano pepper, very finely diced
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onion
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 large avocado (or 2 small avocadoes) cut into cubes about 1 inch
1 T + 2 T fresh lime juice (I used my fresh-frozen lime juice)
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. ground cumin (or more, to taste)
salt to taste

Combine the rice, vegetable stock, and finely chopped onion in the slow cooker and cook on high for 1 1/2 hours, or until rice is just starting to get tender.  While rice cooks, chop the red and green bell pepper, and open the diced green chiles.  Drain the black beans into a colander placed in the sink and rinse well with cold water until no more foam appears; then let beans drain well.

After 1 1/2 hours, add the chopped red bell pepper, chopped green bell pepper, diced green chiles with juice, and drained black beans to the slow cooker and gently combine with the rice.  Add salt to taste and then cook on high for about 30 minutes more.

While the rice mixture finishes cooking, chop the tomato, cilantro, and Poblano pepper and thinly slice the green onion.  Cut the avocado into cubes about 1 inch across and toss in a bowl with 1 T of lime juice.  (Use a bowl that will hold all the salsa ingredients.  Add the chopped tomato, chopped cilantro, finely chopped Poblano, sliced green onion, other 2 T lime juice, 2 T olive oil, ground cumin, and salt to taste, and gently combine.

The slow cooker mixture is ready when the rice is tender (and preferably the peppers are barely cooked, with still quite a bit of crunch.)  Serve hot or warm, with a generous scoop of the Poblano-Avocado Salsa on top.  You could add other toppings such as desired.

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South Beach Suggestions:
Low-glycemic black beans are allowed (in limited amounts) for any phase of the South Beach Diet, but the use of brown rice in this recipe makes it suitable for Phase 2 or 3.

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

More Tasty Vegetarian Dishes with Black Beans and Rice:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Quick and Easy Black Beans and Rice ~ The Perfect Pantry
Black Bean, Rice, and Cilantro Salad ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
Traditional Cuban Black Beans over Rice ~ Kahakai Kitchen
Black Bean Salad with Jicama, Tomatoes, Cilantro, and Lime ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
Five Ways to Eat Black Beans ~ The Kitchn
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

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Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and this blog earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!


  1. I love this mix of ingredients! It's one of my favorites as well. poblanos really do add such a nice kick, don't they?

  2. Joanne, I think I'm going to become a bit obsessed with Poblanos! Love them in this.

  3. What a great healthy meal for summer.

  4. Thanks Barbara. It was fun to discover how much I like raw Poblano peppers!

  5. What a beautiful dish! Love the combination of colors, textures and flavors, Kalyn!Healthy and delicious!Perfect!

  6. Thanks Erica! We definitely loved it at my house.

  7. oh yummm!!! i slow cooked my black eye peas for the first time and made way too many... now I know what to do with them!

  8. Alla, I would love this with black-eyed peas!

  9. This looks so yummy! What a great healthy recipe!

  10. DeliciousnessHappens, so glad you like it.

  11. This looks delicious and I've tried my best to recreate it, but darnit if brown rice just doesn't hate me. I can't make it without it becoming a mass of mush. Any ideas? I've tried the stove, rice cooker and now the crock pot and I've never been successful.

  12. Meredith, I would have to guess it's the brand of rice you're using? If you followed the cooking times and used the rice I did (Uncle Ben's Brown Rice) I can't think of what else would make it not turn out.


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