Cheap, plant-based yet tasty, even the huzza enjoyed this meal-in-a-bowl featuring garlicky roasted Brussels sprouts.

Seemingly the bane of every childhood, as an adult, I love garlicky roasted Brussels sprouts. Admittedly, my gateway drug was a deep-fried take served with salsa macha, apples and walnuts at a pub. It was salty, crunchy, spicy and sweet all in one – how could one not get hooked…

The (American) winter just past is the first time I’ve ever cooked Brussels sprouts. Along with the sprouts, I discovered that spinach, beetroot and other leafy greens are also winter produce – who knew there was so much yum to such a dreary time of year. Keep an eye out for nearish-future posts about those veggies. Keyword –ish.

Schtuff I learned along the way

To make the Brussels sprouts crispy without resorting to deep-frying, preheat the oven with the oiled roasting trays inside. This way, the sprouts will go straight into sizzling hot oil.

Dried brown rice often needs a pre-soak; the length of the soak varies depending on the variety. This particular type (long grain) needed an overnight soak, but I’ve cooked with other types that only needed 30 minutes. Our tap water is hard – using filtered water made the soaking and cooking time noticeably shorter.

Dried pinto beans, like many other beans, are way cheaper, and more clean-food-y, than canned. Being a dried pinto bean virgin, I tried the Bean Institute’s hot soak with four-step cooking method, and found that this musical fruit did not make me toot. Woot woot. <– Couldn’t resist.

Garlicky Brussels Sprouts, Pinto Beans and Brown Rice Bowl recipe

This meal is fairly easy, but requires a fair amount of prep, much of which can be done ahead of time (except for the Brussels sprouts – those have to be fairly fresh from the oven to be crispy).

Of course, when short on time or can-be-arsed-ness, one may wish to use canned pinto beans and instant brown rice, and there shall be no judgment.

Serves: 4 approx.


The first amount listed is the quantity I used; metric measurements are approximate conversions. I keep track of both US | Australian ingredient names.

  • 2 US cups dried brown rice | almost 2 metric cups
  • 2 US cups dried pinto beans | almost 2 metric cups
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 2 pounds Brussels sprouts | 900g or 1kg
  • Olive or cooking oil
  • Fajita seasoning powder (or simply salt and pepper), to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 sprigs green onions to garnish, optional | 2 sprigs spring onions


Step 1.

If soaking overnight: Rinse the rice in a colander, pick out any bits that don’t belong, then soak overnight in 4 cups of water (use filtered – but not bottled – water if the tap water is hard). Cold-soak the beans the same way.


If quick- or hot-soaking: Rinse the beans in a colander, remove any bits that don’t belong, place into a large saucepan with 10 US cups of water (use filtered – but not bottled – water if the tap water is hard). Heat on medium-high heat and boil for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover and let stand for 4 hours. Rinse the rice in a colander, pick out any bits that don’t belong, then soak in 4 cups of water for 30 minutes or until rehydrated – the grains of rice will appear paler.

Step 2. Drain the beans, rinse with fresh water. Then, put the beans back into the saucepan and add enough fresh water (filtered, if needed) to cover the beans by about 2 inches | 5cm. Heat on medium heat, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, and maintain a gentle simmer. When the beans are almost tender, add fajita seasoning or salt and pepper, simmer until done. Remove from heat.

Step 3. While the beans are cooking, drain the rice (use the soaking water on the garden). Place rice into a thick-bottomed saucepan, add 3 US cups of water (filtered, if needed). Cover and cook on low-medium heat until holes or tunnels appear (15-30minutes depending on the rice). Don’t stir. Taste test to see if the rice is almost tender (if not, add some warm water and cook for further 5-minute intervals). Cover and turn off heat without moving the saucepan. After 5-10 minutes, fluff up the rice.

Step 4. While the beans and rice are cooking, wash the Brussels sprouts, trim off the bottoms and slice in half lengthwise. Generously coat the bottoms of 2 roasting trays with oil, place on oven middle rack and preheat to 400F | 200C. Peel, trim and slice garlic cloves in half lengthwise.

Step 5. After preheating, remove roasting trays and carefully add Brussels sprouts and garlic (the hot oil may spit). Season with salt and pepper to taste, ensuring the sprouts are in a single layer. Roast at 400F | 200C on a middle rack for 10 minutes, then gently shake the trays to prevent burning.  Continue roasting, shaking the trays every 5 minutes, until the sprouts are golden brown, about 20-30 minutes. Some leaves will turn crispy brown early on; I pick these out and snack on them.

Step 6. Divvy up the rice, beans and garlicky roasted Brussels sprouts between 4 bowls. Garnish with snipped-up green onions | spring onions, if using.

Enjoy your meal in a bowl!

If you’re wondering why my spring onions are so skinny… this was maybe the fifth time I’d regrown and harvested them.


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