The B4FD Project features blog posts from guest writers that explore the far-reaching benefits of family dinner.

Family Dinner Month 2012: Sept 17 -- Oct 29, 2012


Family Dinner Recipe: Coconut Rice with Black Beans, Plantains and Mango Salsa

by Michael Natkin

We are thrilled to have Michael Natkin lend a post and great recipe as we kick-off Celebrating Dads and Influential Men month on Blog for Family Dinner. Today he shares an easy, quick, kid-friendly and delicious recipe that can be thrown together on a weeknight and is still interesting for adults! You have a chance to win his new book Herbivoracious this month with a comment or sign-up to our mailing list.–Eds.

Coconut Rice with Black Beans, Plantains, and Mango Salsa

At my house, we eat food in styles from all over the world, but rice is far and away our most popular substrate. I’m always experimenting with new ways to cook rice as well as new things to serve with it.

Today’s dish is Caribbean inspired, with coconut milk-scented rice, black beans, plantains, avocado, mango, and a mango salsa. It is especially good for serving to kids, because they can easily pick and choose the ingredients they enjoy. The mango salsa is moderately spicy, adding some extra interest for adults. (And that same salsa could be applied to a wide variety of other meals, ranging from Mexican to southeast Asian).

The coconut rice reheats really well, so you can easily make it the day before and just warm it up in the microwave or rice cooker at dinner time, making this whole meal something that can be thrown together in 20 minutes for a weeknight supper.

Plantains, of course, are in the banana family but are less sweet and more starchy. They are popular in much of the Caribbean and West Africa, as well as Guatemala. In this recipe I simply pan fry them to produce a delicious, slightly caramelized surface and a tender, creamy interior.

Coconut Rice with Black Beans, Plantains, and Mango Salsa
Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free

For the rice:

  • 2 1/4 cups basmati rice (3 standard rice-cooker cups)
  • 1 thirteen-ounce can coconut milk

For the sauce:

  • 1 ripe mango, cubed
  • 1 to 2 jalapeno or serrano pepper (or if you are insane, some part of a habanero), seeded and roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1 handful cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

For the dish:

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 ripe plantains, peeled and sliced into generous 1/4″ thick coins
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups cooked black beans, heated, seasoned with salt (or if you like, with garlic, onions, epazote, etc. as you please)
  • 1 ripe avocado, sliced
  • 1 mango, cubed
  • 1 handful cilantro
  • flaky sea salt
  • 1 lime cut into quarters
  1. For the rice: Cook the rice in your usual way, on the stovetop or in a rice cooker, but replace one can’s worth of water with the coconut milk, then add in an extra quarter-cup of water.
  2. For the sauce: Roughly puree all ingredients in a mini food processor. Just 10 seconds or so should be sufficient, as you want to retain some texture. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  3. To complete the dish: Warm your serving bowls or plates. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it is shimmering, add the plantains in a single layer. Fry, until brown on one side, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook on the other side until browned and tender, about two more minutes. Sprinkle with Kosher salt.
  4. To serve, you may either divide the rice among four bowls and top with the plantains, beans, avocado, mango, cilantro and sauce, or serve all of the ingredients separately and let diners make their own. Pass the lime quarters to squeeze over the finished plate as desired.
Michael Natkin is the author of Herbivoracious.com, one of the top vegetarian recipe blogs on the web, and the cookbook of the same name. He doesn’t care whether you are vegetarian, vegan, carnivore or flexitarian – he just wants to make sure that if you eat a meatless meal tonight, it is hearty and delicious. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter (@michaelnatkin).
* * * * * *

Win Michael Natkin’s Cookbook!

We are thrilled that Michael has offered a copy of his book to Blog for Family Dinner for giveawayJust comment on any post in June or join the Blog for Family Dinner mailing list this month!

We will draw the random winner on Friday June 15th, 7pm EST.

“With plenty of healthy choices and few truly hard-to-find ingredients, this memorable debut will thrill vegetarians and omnivores with worldly tastes.”
– Library Journal


Hardcover, 368 pages
150 recipes, 80 color photos
Harvard Common Press

More about Herbivoracious!

Be sure to entry to win this wonderful book with a comment or easy subscription to our mailing list!

8 comments to Family Dinner Recipe: Coconut Rice with Black Beans, Plantains and Mango Salsa

  • DCEyes

    this sounds delicious. I’ve used plantains in the past but it’s been a couple of years. I seldom come across recipes that call for them.

  • Love those Caribbean flavors… I already bought all the ingredients for mango salsa last weekend, and was wondering what to serve with it… now I’ve got a great meal idea from you! Thanks!

  • As a newly minted vegetarian who cooks for a sometimes-meat-eating family, I find myself searching for recipes that will satisfy everyone. This book looks amazing!

  • deb

    I am going to give this recipe a try…yummy yummy!

  • nik

    I listened to an interview with him on the radio this morning…he sounds so creative in the kitchen and his recipes look superdelicious! I’d love to try this one!

  • This is what i like to see! Detailed and nice explained recipe. It is very nice for dinner, easy food and fast making. Thanks!

  • Well, I made it and LOVED it! My husband enjoyed it too. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Carly

    I hope I win this cookbook. I have been wanting it for months now. Michael Natkin’s Indian Lentil Soup recipe has been a staple in my household for months now!