Vegan Mexican rice and bean casserole is a quick and easy midweek meal that will quickly become a family favourite. Packed full of savoury flavours and plant-powered goodness. This casserole can be prepared in one-pot with just simple, everyday ingredients.
Black beans, kidney beans, and rice are cooked in a taco spiced tomato sauce, flavoured with umami mushrooms, sweet carrots and sweetcorn, and deliciously balanced with green peppers and optional chilli's. Finished off with a crunchy nacho topping of plain tortilla chips, grated vegan cheese, and a sprinkle of chopped coriander/cilantro.
Origin of Mexican Rice Casserole
Mexican rice casserole is a variant of Mexican rice. Mexican rice is also commonly known as Spanish rice in the US. During the 1500s Spanish invaders introduced rice to Mexico and so a new dish was eventually created using Spanish rice and Mexican flavours.
Traditionally Mexican rice usually has the rice sautéed in some sort of animal fat or oil, before tomatoes, stock, and flavourings are added. Veggies such as corn, peppers, onions and garlic are common additions.
Nowadays, Mexican rice is very popular in the US, as well as enjoyed globally. As Americans love creating easy and quick casseroles, Mexican rice casserole is a popular family meal, which generally involves the addition of a cheesy topping.
Origin of Taco seasoning
This recipe for a vegan Mexican inspired Rice and Bean Casserole uses ready-prepared Taco seasoning for convenience.
The origin of taco seasoning is not entirely clear, as it is a relatively modern invention. However, it is believed to have been developed in the United States during the mid-20th century, when Mexican cuisine was becoming more popular.
Taco seasoning typically contains a mix of spices such as chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika. These spices are combined in varying proportions to create a flavorful blend that can be used to season ground beef, chicken, or vegetables for use in tacos or other Mexican-inspired dishes.
The use of pre-mixed seasoning blends became popular in the US in the 1950s and 60s, as convenience foods and processed ingredients became more widely available. The development of taco seasoning is likely a result of this trend, as it allowed home cooks to easily and quickly add authentic Mexican flavors to their meals without having to source and measure out individual spices.
Today, taco seasoning is widely available in supermarkets and is a staple ingredient in many kitchens worldwide. However, it is worth noting that traditional Mexican cuisine often relies on fresh ingredients and spices that are ground or blended just before use, rather than pre-mixed seasoning blends.
Vegan Mexican Rice Casserole
This recipe is inspired by the delicious flavours of Mexican rice.
Long grain rice is cooked with black beans and white kidney beans, (I sourced these on Amazon, UK) while being flavoured with tomatoes and taco seasoning.
Fresh green peppers add mild bitterness while the grated carrot and sweetcorn add various amounts of sweetness.
Instead of mince or taco meat, I added fine diced mushrooms to give the casserole a deep savouriness. My son really dislikes mushrooms but I diced them really small in my little food processer and he was oblivious to there being any mushrooms! And he went back for seconds! Alternatively you can use fresh, frozen, or dried vegan mince.
I did not add any chilli's as my kids are slightly frightened off them whenever I mention the possibility of adding to their dinner. But a small can of green chilli's or a fresh green chilli can be added for extra spiciness if liked.
Once the casserole has cooked on the stove top its good to go but I decided to add a nacho topping mainly because I knew my kids would love it. And also for the tasty texture the crunchy cheesy toasted tortilla chips bring. However, if preferred the nacho topping can just be omitted.
How to prepare Mexican rice and bean casserole
This rice and bean casserole is so simple and can be whipped up in no time to feed a hungry family. Enjoy with your favourite Mexican side dishes and accompaniments for a home-made Mexican inspired feast that's so much better than take-out.
First cook the onions, garlic, carrots and bell peppers.
Next add the sweetcorn and diced mushrooms.
Mix through the taco seasoning.
Add the black beans, white beans and rice.
Pour in the tomato passata and vegetable broth.
Simmer for 20 minutes.
Pop on the tortilla chips, shredded vegan cheese and chopped coriander [cilantro].
Transfer the mixture to a casserole dish.
Pop on the tortilla chips, shredded vegan cheese and chopped coriander [cilantro].
Bake for 10 minutes.
The casserole will be deliciously melted, crispy and golden.
Serving suggestion: Enjoy with salsa, guacamole, vegan sour cream, extra tortilla chips, and crispy lettuce, or your favourite Mexican accompaniments. Delicious!
Recipe notes and frequently asked questions
Leftover casserole can be stored in the refrigerator within a covered container for 3 days. Or frozen for 2-3 months. Although, I don't recommend freezing the nacho topping as the texture of the tortilla chips may change. Eat the topping and add a fresh nacho topping to the thawed leftovers!
Reheat leftovers by microwaving until piping hot (remove any nacho topping as it will likely go a bit soft). Give the leftovers a stir after a minute of reheating to ensure even reheating. The nacho topping can be reheated separately in a hot oven for a few minutes until crisp or within an air-fryer.
Alternatively, place the leftover casserole into a heat-proof dish and reheat in a hot oven (original cooking temp) until piping hot. Or reheat portions of casserole within an air-fryer, following your manufacturers instructions for timings, etc. Place a piece of kitchen foil over the dish to prevent the nachos browning too much while the filling reheats.
Yes, this casserole can be prepared as safe for gluten-free diets with a few considerations.
First, check that vegan broth and taco seasoning are certified gluten-free or free from gluten ingredients.
Lastly, ensure that your tortilla chips are gluten-free though most plain tortilla chips are usually just maize flour, oil and salt, but its best to check.
* The beans can be subbed out for any of your preferred beans.
* Switch the passata (sieved tomato sauce) for tinned [canned] chopped tomatoes.
* Drizzle a home-made vegan cheese sauce over the tortilla chips instead of the shredded cheese
* If preferred omit the nacho topping, and just enjoy the casserole. Mix through some nutritional yeast flakes for a cheesy hit.
* Not a fan of mushrooms? Use the equivalent of vegan mince [crumbles] either fresh or frozen. Or rehydrate dried TVP (textured vegetable protein) mince.
* replace the fresh onion and/or garlic with a few teaspoons of the dried varieties.
* Instead of cooking the onions in a tablespoon of olive oil use a ½-3/4 cup of veggie stock.
1. Guacamole: This classic Mexican side dish is the perfect accompaniment to a rice and bean casserole. The creamy texture of the guacamole pairs well with the cheesy nacho topping.
2. Grilled vegetables: Grilled peppers, zucchini, and onions are a tasty and healthy addition to any meal. They can be seasoned with Mexican spices to complement the flavors of the casserole.
3. Corn on the cob: Corn on the cob is a classic side dish for any Mexican meal. It can be grilled or boiled and served with vegan butter.
4. Fresh salad: A simple green salad with a citrusy dressing can help balance out the richness of the casserole. You could add avocado, cherry tomatoes, and red onion for a bit of extra flavor and texture.
5. Salsa: A spicy salsa can add some heat to your meal and complement the flavors of the casserole. Serve it with tortilla chips or as a topping for the casserole.
6. Refried beans: If you're a fan of beans, you could serve the casserole with some extra refried beans on the side. They'll complement the flavors of the casserole and add some extra protein to your meal.
If you would rather not use shop-bought taco seasoning or can't source it in your local shops, it is really easy to prepare your own.
The flavours will likely be better as you can tailor to your own taste preferences by adding a little extra or this or that, or omit a certain herb or spice, until its perfect.
Try this easy recipe as a foundation over at Meixcanfoodjournal.com
There's countless ideas on how to repurpose tasty leftover rice and bean casserole. The cheesy nacho topping may not be able to be used for some of the suggestions, but of course this can simply be eaten!
Burrito bowls: Use the leftover casserole as the base for a burrito bowl. Top it with fresh greens, salsa, avocado, and a dollop of vegan sour cream.
Tacos: Stuff leftover casserole into tacos and top with your favorite toppings like fresh cilantro, diced tomatoes, and sliced jalapeños.
Nachos: Use the leftover casserole as a topping for nachos. Layer tortilla chips with the casserole, vegan cheese, and diced tomatoes. Bake in the oven until the cheese is nicely melted.
Quesadillas: Make quesadillas using the leftover casserole as the filling. Add some vegan cheese and diced peppers and onions for extra flavor.
Stuffed peppers: Slice the top a bell pepper and take the seeds out. Stuff the peppers with leftover casserole and top with vegan cheese. Bake in a hot oven until the peppers are tender.
Enchiladas: Use leftover casserole to fill tortilla wraps and place them in a baking dish. Cover with enchilada sauce and vegan cheese, and bake in the oven until heated through.
Soup: Puree leftover casserole with vegetable broth to make a flavorful soup. Serve with a side of the leftover nacho cheese topping, tortilla chips or croutons on top.
Toasted cheese sandwich: Add a layer of rice and beans to your chosen bread and sprinkle vegan cheese over or some nutritional yeast flakes, place another slice over the top and toast until heated through and the cheese melted.
More Mexican inspired vegan dinners
***please note: for US measurements click the 'US customary button' within the recipe and the measurements will switch to tablespoons, cups, and ounces.***
Vegan Mexican Rice and Bean Casserole
- Non-stick skillet/ pan [If you have a stove-top and oven-safe skillet use this to save washing up.]
- Casserole dish or oven-safe Dutch oven
- 1 tablespoon olive oil [or your regular oil, or use ½-¾ cup of vegetable broth]
Mexican rice and bean casserole:
- 1 medium red onion or white/brown onion
- 4 cloves garlic minced/fine diced
- 1 medium-large carrot grated [shredded]
- 1 green bell pepper diced
- 300 grams mushrooms diced
- 130 grams sweetcorn frozen or canned
- 1 packet taco/fajita/enchilada seasoning about a 24/28g packet. Or a few tablespoons if from a tub/jar.
- 1 can black beans 400g/14 oz can, drained
- 1 can white kidney beans 400g/14oz can, drained
- 150 grams long grain rice
- 500 grams passata [sieved tomato sauce] alternatively use one can of chopped tomatoes (400g/14 oz) plus 1 tablespoon tomato puree/paste
- 750 millilitres vegetable stock or vegan 'beef' flavoured stock
- 1 green chilli sliced
Topping: [extra topping can be used as desired]
- 70 grams vegan cheese
- 50 grams plain tortilla chips
- 20 grams coriander [cilantro]
- Heat the oil or veggie stock in a skillet and cook the onion for 5 minutes over a medium heat, stirring frequently.1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 medium red onion
- Add the garlic, stir and cook for an extra minute.4 cloves garlic
- Chuck in the peppers and carrot, and cook for another 2 minutes.1 green bell pepper, 1 medium-large carrot
- Add the mushrooms and sweetcorn, [including the green chilli if using], cook for 4 minutes.Stir frequently.300 grams mushrooms, 130 grams sweetcorn, 1 green chilli
- Sprinkle in the taco seasoning and mix well.1 packet taco/fajita/enchilada seasoning
- Stir through the rice, black beans and white kidney beans.1 can black beans, 1 can white kidney beans, 150 grams long grain rice
- Pour in the passata and vegan stock and give it a good stir.500 grams passata [sieved tomato sauce], 750 millilitres vegetable stock
- Preheat the oven 190 Fan/ 210 Celsius/ Fahrenheit 410 / Gas 6.
- Bring the casserole to the boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes.Check to see if the rice is cooked, if not place a lid on your pan, turn off the heat and leave the dish to sit for 10 minutes.
- Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Transfer the cooked casserole mixture to an oven dish, or if your pan is oven-safe just leave the casserole in the pan.
- Scatter the tortilla chips over the top, sprinkle half of the chopped coriander, and finish with the vegan cheese.70 grams vegan cheese, 50 grams plain tortilla chips, 20 grams coriander [cilantro]
- Bake for around 5-10 minutes or until the cheese has melted and tortillas have browned a little.
- Toss over the rest of the coriander.Serve with the guacamole and salsa if liked.
- Nutritional data is provided for guidance only and is not a strict calculation as ingredients vary.
- Leftovers can be kept in the fridge, covered, for up to 3 days. Or frozen for 2-3 months [minus the nacho topping].
- Reheat leftovers until piping hot throughout either using an oven or microwave. Although don't microwave leftover nacho topping, its best to eat the nachos cold, or reheat separately using an air-fryer or oven.
- Adjust the taco seasoning by adding more or less depending on how spicy your family enjoys their meals.
- Mushrooms can be replaced with vegan mince [crumbles] either frozen, fresh or rehydrated dried vegan mince such as textured vegetable protein [TVP].
Thank you for trying out our vegan adaptation of Mexican Rice and Bean Casserole! We hope you enjoyed making and savoring it as much as we do.
If you tried this recipe, please let us know in the comments below how it turned out for you, or if you made any modifications.
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Thank you, and happy cooking!
Love, Jacq x