Ecuadorian Rice And Beans (Menestra) is a traditional dish made with rice and a bean stew made with a flavorful sauteed garlic and onion base, seasoned with cumin, fresh cilantro, and oregano, and served with fried green plantains, chorizo or sausage, a zesty onion Curtido, and salad! +11 Serving Ideas below.
Ecuadorian Rice And Beans (Menestra Recipe)
I make Ecuadorian Rice And Beans (Arroz Con Menestra Ecuatoriano) almost every day in Ecuador, it’s pretty much my go-to dish for lunch or dinner.
Because of all the options and variations that you can add to this dish, you’ll guaranteed to never get tired of it which is why I make it so often!
In this case, I served my rice and beans with Patacones (fried green plantains), sausage (salchicha) but I usually do chorizo, along with cheese, a spoonful of zesty Onion Curtido (onions & lemon), and salad, to add some greens.
Why you’ll love this recipe:
- Flavorful. This is no regular rice and beans. It’s GOOD. The beans have a sautéed garlic and onion base, they’re seasoned with cumin, fresh cilantro and oregano and cooked until tender and packed with flavor. Optional secret ingredient? Cheese!
- Quick and easy. Ready in just 30 minutes and 3 steps!
- Infinite serving options. This is how I’m able to make this dish almost every day! Check my recommended 11 Serving Ideas down below to make sure you’ll get the best out of this Ecuadorian dish!
- Prep ahead. Don’t have time to make dinner? These beans actually taste better the more they sit, so you can totally make it ahead of time!.
What is Menestra?
“Menestra” is basically a “stew”. There are two types of Menestra in Ecuadorian cuisine: “Menestra de Frijoles” which means “Bean Stew” or “Menestra de Lentejas” which means “Lentil Stew”.
In this post, I’ll teach you how to make “Menestre de Frijoles” which is a delicious Ecuadorian-style bean stew that’s quick and easy to make, and SO good that it might just become your new go-to bean recipe. That’s what happened to me when I moved to Ecuador lol.
Like many traditional recipes, each area and even family has a slightly different version of this recipe. They’re all good! This is the version I learned!
Ingredients for Ecuadorian Rice And Beans
Oil. In Ecuador, you’d usually go for “achiote oil” which is a deep amber-colored vegetable oil infused with “achiote” (aka annatto seeds). You can use regular vegetable oil or make your own “achiote oil” by adding achiote powder or seeds to regular vegetable oil. You can get achiote powder here! It tastes earthy but the flavor is very mild, almost similar to saffron.
Onion. I like using red onion but white will also work. Some add green pepper or even tomatoes to their menestra but I stick to onion and garlic.
Garlic. Use fresh garlic for all the flavor!
Cumin. I usually stick to ground cumin but you can also use whole cumin seeds if you’d like.
Oregano. Regular dried oregano, nothing fancy.
Salt and pepper for flavor.
Cilantro. Before I moved to Ecuador I swore I didn’t like cilantro but Ecuadorian cuisine made me love it so I recommend you add it in but if you don’t have it on hand or really don’t like it, you can leave it out and the menestra will still taste delicious!
Beans. My favorite beans in Ecuador are canary beans (“frijoles canarios” in Spanish), they’re so good and that’s what I recommend you use but since I was making this recipe for you guys, I wanted to use something that most of you already have in your pantry which is why I used kidney beans. They work just fine. You can also use black beans instead. Traditionally, you’d want to use dry beans but I confess I usually use canned (which taste MUCH better than the canned ones in other countries btw).
Water. Ecuadorians like their menestra very thin so they add a lot of water, I like mine a bit on the thicker side so I add way less so this is something that you can customize when making your own Menestra! Some also use grated green plantains to thicken it up (and add extra flavor).
Rice. Use long-grain rice, wash it to get rid of extra starch and, while I provide instructions in the recipe card, cook it accordingly to package instructions. The reason for this is I don’t know what type of rice you’ll be using. As a rule of thumb, you can follow the directions in step 3 of this recipe but depending on your rice, you may need more or less water or it may take more or less time to cook fully.
Cheese. This is optional, not everyone adds cheese to their Menestra but it’s a plus, we can all agree on that lol. The cheese used is similar to queso fresco, so you can substitute it with that or even feta cheese (I use “queso costeño” or “queso manaba”). It’s added in last minute so it can melt a bit but still keep its shape, you don’t want it to melt completely into the menestra.
How to make Ecuadorian Rice And Beans
STEP 1: Saute the veggies. Add the achiote or vegetable oil to a medium pot. Allow the oil to heat, once hot add in the onion and garlic. Season with cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper. Saute until soft and fragrant, then add in the cilantro and keep sautéing.
STEP 2: Add the beans and water. Allow the water to come to a simmer, then cover the pot with a lid and cook until the liquid has thickened to your liking. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired.
STEP 3: Make the rice. While the beans are cooking, make the rice. Wash the rice until the water runs clear, then add the rice and water to a medium pot. Season with salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, as soon as the rice starts simmering, cover with a lid and reduce the heat to low. Cook until the water has evaporated, then remove the lid, add the oil, mix, cover with the lid again and turn off the heat. Let steam.
STEP 4: Add the cheese. This is optional but very recommended! Once the Menestra is ready, turn the heat off, add in the cheese, mix, and cover with the lid. Allow the beans to sit for a few minutes, until the cheese has melted a bit but not completely. Serve with rice, fried green plantains or ripe plantains, Onion curtido, salad, and sausage, chorizo, or a fried egg! More serving ideas below.
What goes with rice and beans?
Here are variations that I do and add-ons that you might like! Told you, there are so many ways to serve this dish that you’ll never get tired of it!
- Chorizo or sausage (here’s my Homemade Chorizo).
- “Carne Apanada” (similar to Milanesa).
- Grilled meat or chicken.
- Fried fish.
- Coca Cola Chicken.
- Egg (fried with runny yolk).
- Potatoes with Salsa De Mani (Ecuadorian Peanut Sauce).
- Simple onion Curtido.
- Tomato and onion Curtido.
- Cucumber Curtido.
- Llapingachos (Ecuadorian Cheesy Potato Cakes).
- Cheese such as queso costeño, Manaba, fresco, or feta cheese.
- Fried ripe plantains for some sweetness.
- Patacones (Fried Green Plantains).
- Aji Criollo (Ecuadorian Hot Salsa).
Can I make Menestra ahead of time?
Yes! Menestra gets more flavorful the more it sits so you can make it up to 1-2 days ahead of time, allow it cool down to room temperature, and then cover it with plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator.
You might need a few splashes of extra water to loosen it up when reheating it.
Can I store Rice And Beans?
Yes! I recommend you store rice and beans separately so you can properly reheat the beans without messing up your rice.
Store your rice covered or in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, then reheat until hot.
Store your beans covered or in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days, then reheat with a generous splash of water to loosen up the texture.
HAPPY COOKING!! I hope you’ll love this Ecuadorian Rice And Beans Recipe (Menestra Recipe) as much as I do!
PS: Please leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating ⭐️ if you make it! Your comments make my day!! You can also tag me on Instagram @itsdamnspicy 🌈💘
MORE ECUADORIAN RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE:
- Salsa De Mani (Ecuadorian Peanut Sauce)
- Pan De Yuca (Ecuadorian Cassava Cheese Bread)
- Llapingachos (Ecuadorian Cheesy Potato Cakes)
- The Best Coca Cola Chicken Recipe
Ecuadorian Rice And Beans (Menestra Recipe)
For The Beans (Menestra)
- 1 and 1/2 tbsp (20 ml) achiote oil or vegetable oil (to make your own achiote oil add 1 and 1/2 tbsp or 20 ml of vegetable oil and 1/4 tsp achiote powder. You can buy achiote powder here)
- 1/2 large red onion (minced)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
- one 15-oz can (one 425-g can) beans (canary beans are my favorite but you can use your favorite beans, black beans work great or even just Kidney beans)
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) water (or more for a thinner stew)
- 1/3 cup (50 g) cubed cheese such as Queso Costeño, Queso Manaba or Queso Fresco (optional but recommended, feta cheese also works)
- Cilantro (optional, for topping)
For The Rice
- 1 cup (185 g) basmati rice
- 2 cups (500 ml) water (more or less, depending on the rice)
- Saute the veggies. Add the achiote or vegetable oil to a medium pot over medium-low heat. Allow the oil to heat, once hot add in the onion and garlic. Season with cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper. Saute until soft and fragrant (about 3-4 minutes), then add in the cilantro and keep sautéing for another 1-2 minutes.
- Add the beans and water. Set the heat to medium-high and allow the water to come to a boil, then cover the pot with a lid, reduce the heat to medium and cook until the liquid has thickened to your liking (about 10-15 minutes). Taste and adjust seasonings if desired.
- Make the rice. While the beans are cooking, make the rice. Wash the rice until the water runs clear, then add the rice, water, and salt to a medium pot. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, as soon as the rice starts simmering, cover with a lid and reduce the heat to low. Cook until the water has evaporated, then remove the lid, add the oil, mix, cover with the lid again and turn off the heat. Let steam.
- Add the cheese. This is optional but recommended. Once the Menestra is ready, turn off the heat, add in the cheese, mix, and cover with the lid. Allow the beans to sit for about 3-4 minutes or until the cheese has melted but not completely. Serve with rice, Patacones (Fried Green Plantains) or ripe plantains, Onion Curtido, salad, and meat of choice or a fried egg! See notes for more serving ideas.
📷 DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?!