Spicy Pumpkin Black Bean Rice Bake

by Rebekahcooked up on December 1, 2013

We are doing a lot of cleaning out the fridge this weekend. There was a point last week where there was literally no shelf space left, and many things were precariously double-stacked that ordinarily would not have been. This was partly because it was almost Thanksgiving, and partially because we just had a lot of half-used containers of this and that – old rice, half a can of pumpkin puree, that kind of thing. This casserole was a really good way to rectify that (though you haven’t seen the last of the pumpkin-black bean combo this week. I had a lot of half-used pumpkin.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend! We spent Thanksgiving day with some of our best friends and had a fun time and an amazing meal. I ate a little of everything! I could swear I used to be able to fit a lot more Thanksgiving goodness in my tummy, though. This year I didn’t have seconds of anything! But I did have dessert.

Friday morning Dave and I put up our Christmas decor, then headed out to do a little Christmas shopping and see the tree lighting in downtown Portland. And on Saturday, we hit up our favorite small businesses – our local fabric shop, a few boutiques, our favorite homebrew store, a fun pizza place and a little local theater to see CATCHING FIRE! Which was awesome, of course.

Through all of that activity, we’ve made it through most of the Thanksgiving leftovers and our fridge is starting to look like normal again. Thank goodness! I needed that space for holiday party food!

Pumpkin Black Bean Rice Bake | PDXfoodlove

This casserole was kind of an off-the-cuff recipe (see above: I was looking at what was left in the fridge!). But it turned out really well. It’s not really spicy on its own – I definitely recommend adding some hot sauce – but it is hearty and easy, with warm flavors that will warm you right up when you come in from holiday shopping.

One quick note about the recipe: it calls for rice that is already cooked. You can certainly use leftover rice if you want, but if you have no cooked rice on hand, keep it in mind to build the time to cook it in ahead of time.

Here’s what you need:

Vegetable oil
1 bell pepper, diced (use your favorite!)
1 jalapeno, diced
1 small onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. ancho chile powder
kosher salt
1 tsp. ish lime juice
1/2 cup spicy salsa
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup black olive pieces
1 can black beans
4 cups cooked rice
2 cups shredded cheese, I suggest a mix of yellow and white

Top with:
Hot sauce (for this particular scenario, I suggest: Tapatio)
Avocado
Sour cream

Pumpkin Black Bean Rice Bake | PDXfoodlove

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Heat 1-2 Tbsp. vegetable oil in a large skillet while you prep the peppers and onion. Add in the onions and both peppers, cooking for 4-5 minutes or until they soften. Stir in a heavy pinch of kosher salt and the garlic, cumin, cinnamon, coriander, chile powder and lime juice. Meanwhile, prep a large ceramic casserole dish by adding the cooked rice to it.

If you have room in the skillet, mix the pumpkin, olives and black beans into the pepper-onion mixture right there in the skillet. If you don’t, go ahead and add the pumpkin, olives and black beans into the casserole with the rice. Either way you should end up adding the pepper-onion mixture, the pumpkin, the olives, the beans and the rice all to a casserole and stirring them gently to combine.

Sprinkle a generous layer of shredded cheese on top.

Bake for 10 minutes at 375 (everything should already be pretty warm!) Then, turn on the broiler for about five minutes, just enough to brown the cheesy topping nicely.

Pumpkin Black Bean Rice Bake | PDXfoodlove

Do not leave the oven! Watch that sucker broil until it is perfect, and take it out immediately. Broilers are REALLY hot and there are about 30 seconds between a perfect topping and charcoal.

Scoop out and serve with avocado, hot sauce, sour cream and cilantro.

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