cooking: delicious black beans

I’ve never been able to get my beans right. Despite the fact that Ben doesn’t complain, they are never as good as I want them to be. I guess I have pretty high expectations.

I compare my beans against a standard that’s been set by our Oregonian friends. They are mostly vegetarian and I drool at the very thought of visiting them for dinner. Black beans are a commonly requested and served item, often paired with a cheese enchilada (with ingredients fresh from the Hispanic market). The meals there are always delicious.

Our friends have shared their bean recipe secret with us in the past, but I’ve never been able to replicate it… until last week. This was the turning point in my life story with beans. And can you guess what their trick was? Caramelizing the onions. I’ve never been able to get it right before. I’ve either crowded the onions in the pot or rushed them with too high of heat, resulting in a less than optimal outcome. This time, though? I was careful to use enough oil, keep the pot at a medium high temperature and let the onions do their thing. My patience paid off – the onions turned a beautiful brown and a sweet smell wafted up as their sugars were released. Later, I found this tutorial online that would have helped tremendously in my past failed attempts.

For the rest of the steps to obtain the perfect beans, I adapted this recipe I find on Gen Y Foodie (check out the site – lots of yummy recipes!). The flavors seemed right and the directions were simple, so I gave it a whirl. I replaced a few things, added others and left some out entirely (like I said, I adapted it). The red wine vinegar was an interesting addition, and I think it worked really well in the recipe. Definitely a trick I will have to remember! I made a large batch last week and we’ve gone through it so quickly that we’ll be ready to make another batch this week! Beans are one of those things that freeze really well and can be defrosted quickly to pair with dinner. Add some guacamole and you have the perfect side dish… or meal, depending on how hungry you are.

black beans a cookin'!

Here’s my recipe (printable version here):

Delicious Black Beans

2 cups dried black beans, soaked (retain soaking liquid for cooking)
1 small can diced green chilies
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 tsp garlic (+/- to taste as desired)
2 tsp cilantro
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne powder
1 bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp oil
salt and pepper, to taste (use after fully cooked)


1. Grab a LARGE pot – this is a one dish meal, baby.
2. Add oil to pot and saute onion in oil over medium-high heat until caramelized. Adding a pinch of salt will speed this up.
3. Add garlic and spices. Cook over med-high heat for ~3 minutes.
4. Add green chilies and bell pepper. Cook over med-high heat for ~5 minutes.
5. Add black beans (with soaking liquid), tomato paste and vinegar. Add water to cover beans by at least 1 inch, if needed.
6. Cover with lid and cook for 45 minutes, or until beans are soft.

Top with some guacamole and enjoy!

mmmm... beans with guacamole


2 Responses to “cooking: delicious black beans”

  1. 1 Ingrid March 19, 2012 at 6:49 PM

    What made beans really work for me was presoaking them (overnight), then draining the water and freezing them in plastic bags. They are, if not totally ready to go, a lot faster to cook when I want them.
    The other thing that I do with ALL soups and beans is start with carmelizing onions in olive oil and soy sauce and paprika. The soy sauce is then an additional salty thing, so you don’t add as much salt. This works for risotto and pasta sauce too. Man it works for everything!
    I am a fan of beans too. Your food looks awesome.

    • 2 suzyness March 19, 2012 at 10:49 PM

      I love, love, love the idea of presoaking and then freezing the beans!! So freakin’ smart. I have a bag of dried beans in my cabinet calling to me, but several mason jars of cooked beans already in the freezer, so I didn’t want to cook more right now. Yay!! I <3 getting new cooking tips!

      I'll try the soy sauce and paprika idea. I usually add paprika when I start the boil, but throwing the spice in with the onions is a great idea too. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Mom to "C", wife to Ben. I'm a part-time blogger, cook, organizer, seamstress, house cleaner, taxi, nurse (the mom kind), accountant... I could go on, but really... it's all in the blog. Read away!

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.



%d bloggers like this: