Portuguese Food

Discover Portuguese Rice With Beans – a Simple Recipe

Let’s talk about food. Specifically, let’s talk about Portuguese Rice with Beans.

Finding a Recipe to Try

I know at least a few of you are interested in what the Portuguese people eat.  Once we move there, we will be writing a lot about food, believe me.  For now, you will have to be satisfied with my occasional attempts at Portuguese cooking.

I borrowed a book from Amazon called Portuguese Cooking: Easy Classic Recipes From Portugal, by Sarah Spencer (2018).  I was leafing through the book and found several recipes that I’d like to try.  So this past Saturday, I tried one of the side dish recipes, Portuguese Rice with Beans (p. 113).

“This looks interesting. And simple,” I thought. “I think I have everything I need for it.”  That wasn’t entirely true.  The recipe calls for some fresh herbs – I figured that I could just substitute with the dried herbs I have.  What could possibly go wrong?

Into the kitchen I went, ready to try my hand at my very first Portuguese dish! 

Portuguese Rice with Beans

Serves: 8

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 20-25 minutes


¼ cup olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped

2-4 tsp paprika, to taste

2 bay leaves

3 cups beef, chicken, or vegetable broth (I used vegetable broth)

3 cups of water

3 cups long-grain rice, uncooked

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 15-oz can kidney beans, rinsed well and drained


  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Sauté the onions until slightly browned (about 3 minutes).
  3. Add the parsley, paprika, and bay leaves and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute).
  4. Add the broth and water.  The mixture may be transferred to a rice-cooker at this point.
  5. Stir in the rice.
  6. Season with salt and pepper, then cover and let cook.
  7. As soon as the mixture starts to boil, add the kidney beans and replace the cover.
  8. Reduce heat and let simmer until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender (about 20 minutes) or until the rice cooker shuts off automatically.
  9. Turn off heat but let sit undisturbed for 10 minutes before removing the lid.  Fluff rice and serve.

Nutrition (per serving):

Calories 322

Carbs 57.7 g

Fat 7.3 g

Protein 5.2 g

Sodium 592 mg

My Experience With the Recipe

First of all, I don’t have a rice cooker, so I used my cast iron Dutch oven for this.  It’s a good thing I did because this makes a lot of rice.  Rather than make a saucepan dirty, I only used the Dutch oven.

As I mentioned, I only had the dried parsley and bay leaves.  They didn’t impart much flavor.  Of course, being over 8 years old didn’t help either.  You shouldn’t keep your herbs and spices for more than about 6-8 months, I read.  Oops.  That’s a lot of waste, in my opinion.  I never get through even half a bottle of spice.  Maybe once we move to Portugal and I actually start cooking real meals more than once a week….

Once your rice is finished cooking, be sure to remove the bay leaves.  My daughter didn’t realize that you’re not supposed to eat those.  Even though she said the rice wasn’t too bad, after she chomped the bay leaf, she didn’t want anything to do with the rice.  She’s a picky eater, so when she said it wasn’t bad, I was happy.  But once she tastes something she doesn’t like, that food is never touched again.

Neverending Rice With Beans

Let me tell you that 8 servings of rice make a lot of rice.  I’ve been eating it since Saturday night, and it is now Wednesday.  I still have another two days to go.

That’s not entirely a bad thing, either.  Let me explain.

When I had the first serving, I felt like it needed a little … something.  It was kind of bland to me.  I then realized that I had forgotten to add the salt and pepper!  I had used 3 tsp of paprika because when given a choice, I’m more of a middle-of-the-road person.  However, I should have used four.  If it wasn’t eight years old, three probably would have been enough.

I finished that bowl of rice.  Although it didn’t knock my socks off, I felt like I would be able to finish the rest of it throughout the week.  So I stored the rice in two large containers (it was a lot!) and put them in the refrigerator.

On the second day, it seems like something magical had happened to my rice.  It actually had flavor!  Like, enough to make it taste good!  That second bowl went down much easier than the first one did.  I actually looked forward to the next day.

Day 3, and the rice was just as good as the day before, both for lunch and dinner.  “Alright! This is going to be a good week with my leftovers,” I thought.

How Much Longer?

At noon on day 4, I finished off the first leftover container and started with the second.  The flavor wasn’t quite as strong as the last two days but still acceptable.  For dinner, I took a break from the rice and we had pizza.

It’s now day 5, and the magic is fading.  The flavor has definitely slipped back to what it was on the first day, it seems.  Or maybe I’m just tired of the rice and beans.  My body seems to be happy though.  Let’s just say that beans are good for the digestive system.

I suppose that I could throw out the rest of the rice, but I won’t.  The beans have a lot of nutrients.  Besides, my digestive system is happy.  I don’t want to go back to having an unhappy gut.

Would I recommend this recipe to others?  Sure I would.  With salt,  pepper, and fresh herbs, I think this would be a great recipe.  Healthy and flavorful.  Have a lot of people eat it.  Don’t horde the goodness all to yourself.

Just don’t eat the bay leaves.


Contact us if you have any questions or comments about this or any of our posts. We love hearing from our readers!

Would you like to receive our monthly newsletter about Portugal? Once we move there in 2022, it will be twice a month. Just fill out the form below.


  • Daniel C

    Sounds yummy! I’m looking forward to all the fresh herbs and veggies that we will be able to use over there. I can’t wait for the adventure to begin!

    • Alecia Chesery Ramsey

      I can hardly wait either! I’m already preparing for all the fresh herbs and veggies. I bought a herb cutter and a set of peelers that peel thin skin like a carrot or apple, peel thick skin like a squash, and can also julienne the veggies like zucchini. I’m gathering tons of recipes digitally and putting my favorite recipes on the computer so I don’t have to bring books. I’m bringing herbs and spices that are difficult to find there. I’m bringing vanilla beans to make vanilla there because people say they can’t find it easily. I’m even planning to bring my favorite 2 cast iron pieces, a Dutch oven and a 12″ skillet (I’ll have to separate the pieces in luggage so as not to go over the weight limit). Dang, I may need to buy more luggage! We already have 6 25″ suitcases, 2 21″ carryons, a backpack with camera equipment and CPAP, and an understater with meds and essentials plus 2 cat carriers. I’d better bring a handsome, well-built young man to schlep my stuff too!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *