This smokey mexican style vegetarian rice casserole is quick to prepare and will serve a crowd. Or split the recipe into 2-4 portions and stored in the freezer for future meals. Easy make ahead black beans and rice bake! 

chipotle rice casserole with black beans and cilantro on top

I have to admit that batch cooking is really not much my thing. But recipes like this are meant to be made ahead and socked away for a rainy day…. or a very busy day. So once in a while I will bust out a huge casserole like this spicy Black Bean and Rice Bake and stock my freezer with meals for months to come. Okay, maybe only a couple of meals. Still, having dinner in the freezer – even if it is only one or two diners – is always a good plan.

vegetarian spicy mexican rice casserole with black beans and cilantro on top

Rice bakes are great for meal planning

This Chipotle Rice Casserole makes a huge amount. If I divide it into two meals, each meal will serve the four of us for dinner with enough leftovers for another meal or lunch later in the week.

We like this casserole as a burrito filling and serve it on soft tortillas with fresh chopped greens, salsa and sour cream. A casual and filling dinner all on its own.

Leftovers make great veggie burritos for lunch — you can even roll up the burritos and freeze them! Crazy meal planning and organization happening here.

Other times I divide this recipe into three or four portions – one to eat now, and the others for the freezer. 1/3 of this casserole is a good size for us if I’m serving it as a hearty side dish, next to something BBQ’d with a salad or other grilled vegetables. There might still be some leftovers. Of course if you have an army to feed… you could forget about saving some for the freezer. So many options!

spicy chipotle rice and black beans close up in blue casserole dish

A few tips and notes about this Chipotle Rice Casserole

  • For the rice I use Uncle Ben’s Natural Select’s Spanish Rice along with a cup of long grain white rice. Adding the flavoured rice makes this dish so easy. A no-brainer. really. It’s not often I used short cuts like this, but here it saves me time and nutritionally I’m happy with the results.
  • Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce can be very spicy, consider your tastes and who you are serving. We like two tablespoons — and this is a very big dish. I encourage you to add at least 1 tablespoon and get a little of that nice smokiness going on.
  • If dividing dish into two casseroles, I use my 2.5 qt Corningware.  If dividing into three or four portions, I will use large zip-top freezer bags. In both cases thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating. When you are ready, preheat the oven to 375 and dump the goods into a casserole dish (if not already in one, obviously). Bake the casserole covered until hot through and nice and bubbly. 20-30 minutes. Make sure it is hot! How long will depend on the size of the dish. Then uncover, add some shredded cheese if you’d like, then  return to the oven until the cheese has melted. Another 10 minutes or so.
  • See this post for making a veggie burritos for the freezer. I would not recommend refreezing leftovers, but if you cook the casserole and serve right away, you can take the leftovers and make a bunch of veggie burritos for grab and go lunches for days.

    Chipotle Rice Bake

    This smokey mexican style vegetarian rice casserole is quick to prepare and will serve a crowd or can be split into 2-4 portions and stored in the freezer for future meals. Definitely a make-a-head dish to have in your recipe box!
    Prep Time15 mins
    Cook Time20 mins
    Total Time35 mins
    Servings: 12 servings

    Ingredients

    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 3 cloves garlic minced
    • 1 large while onion chopped
    • 1 package of Uncle Ben's Spanish Rice
    • 1 cup long grain white rice
    • 1 19 oz can of black beans about 2-1/2 cups cooked
    • 1 28 once can of whole stewed tomatoes
    • 1-2 tablespoons chipotle peppers in adobo sauce or more, depending on how much heat you want
    • 1 teaspoon cumin
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 6 cups water or vegetable stock
    • 2 cups grated Cheddar divided
    • Fresh cilantro chopped, for serving

    Instructions

    • Pre-heat oven to 375.
    • In a large dutch oven, heat oil and saute onions and garlic until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
    • Add rice and toss for 2 minutes with the garlic and onions. Add beans, tomatoes, chipotle and adobo sauce, cumin, salt, pepper and water. Bring to a boil, stirring and breaking up the tomatoes with your spoon. Once boiling, reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 15 minutes. Rice should not be quite done. Remove from heat and stir in 1-1/2 cups cheese.

    Options:

    • a) Storing for the freezer... divide into casserole dishes, allow to cool and cover with wax paper and aluminum foil. Alternatively, casserole stores nicely in large ziptop freezer bags.
    • b) Cooking to eat now.... spread into a casserole dish and sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Bake 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly. (I usually use 1/2 cup of shredded cheese for 1/2 of the recipe.)
    • c) Cooking from frozen.... allow casserole to thaw in refrigerator overnight. Preheat oven to 375. Cook, in a casserole dish covered with aluminum foil at 375 for 20-30 minutes or until casserole is heated through and simmering. Remove cover, sprinkle 1/2 cup of cheese on top, and bake 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

    Notes

    See blog post for freezing and reheating instructions
    Trish | The In Fine Balance Food Blog