Making Mexican Abroad: Expat Rice and Bean Burritos


If you’re an American, you know one of the first things you miss when you move abroad is good Mexican food. Something happens when you cross the Atlantic and suddenly restaurants get it all wrong changing the flavors to suit the local appetite; enchiladas end up way to creamy and salsa tastes more like pizza sauce. After living in Querétaro, Mexico for almost a year during college, I learned what real Mexican is all about: soft corn tortillas, creamy avocado, and the fresh flavors of cilantro, lime, and spicy chili pepper. After a year or two pining for a taco, I finally decided to make my own Mexican abroad.

In France, you can easily find a good avocado and some fresh cilantro (coriandre) for a few euros, in fact at the farmer’s market here in Dijon a bunch of cilantro costs only 50 cents! You’ll also find tortillas (flour are much easier to find than corn), and tortilla chips (get the nature bag, the gout mexican is weird combo of spices and paprika) in the international aisle of the supermarket. Black beans or refried beans are hard to find, but canned kidney beans are a cheap and easy replacement. As for the spices, load up on some cumin and chili pepper in the spice aisle, and add a lemon to your basket being easier to find than limes, they do the trick.

Rice and Bean Burritos are a simple way I found to bring all the flavors together for an easy and healthy lunch that will satisfy your craving for Mexican. I adapted this recipe from Kimberly Snyder’s Beauty Detox Foods Black Bean Burrito recipe, and it has become one of our favorite meals and a really great way to feel a little closer to home on those days when you just need a quick break from expat life. If you’re not abroad, try the recipe for  a healthy dose of homemade Mexican.

The recipe is simple, so head out to the market, stock up and make these tonight!


(Expat) Rice and Bean Burritos

  • One can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • One cup brown rice (I use a ready in 10 minutes kind, but just in case, click here for how to make brown rice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • Cayenne pepper to taste (if you can’t find it, add some chopped fresh chili peppers or extra chili powder)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 avocado, sliced or mashed (didn’t have one for the pics- they’re delicious even without!)
  • Fresh chopped cilantro, to taste (I like a tablespoon or two)
  • Flour tortillas (Corn if you can get them)
  • Optional: chopped spinach or any other veggie (added vitamins!), shredded cheese, hot sauce, lemon/lime



1. In a medium pot, cook the brown rice. When the rice is cooked, rinse the beans and add the beans and seasonings (but not the cilantro, add that later!) to the to the rice. Adjust salt and peppers to taste, and set aside.

2. In large sauce pan sauté the onion in a little olive oil until it is translucent, add the garlic and cook for one minute more. Add the peppers (and any other veggies) for about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

3. Prepare the tortillas, toasting them directly on your burner or using another pan. When they are soft, starting to fill with air, and a little crispy (about 1 minute, keep your eyes on them, they burn fast), remove them from the heat. Add about half of the chopped cilantro to the rice and bean mix, then spoon about a quarter of the rice and beans onto the middle of a warm tortilla. Add a spoonful of sautéed peppers and top with a few avocado slices. Sprinkle some extra cilantro, a few drops of lemon juice, and cheese over the filling. Gently wrap the burrito, bottom fold first then fold in both sides. Drizzle with some extra hot sauce if you like, and enjoy!



Do you have any tricks for bringing Mexican home when you’re abroad?

Besos, Dianne