Along the same lines as last week’s post, this is a good recipe to have in one’s repertoire as busy days return. We eat beans at least once a week in my home. Canned beans are a constant staple in my pantry, but I prefer dry beans. I love a good deal (you can’t beat the economics when it comes to dried beans) and I’ve never been able to doctor up a can of beans to taste anywhere near as good as that of slowly simmered dried beans.
If asked, I’m pretty sure my husband would list beans as his favorite side dish although I’m just as content to have them as my main course. White beans, in my humble opinion, require only a bit of fresh-baked bread for sopping up the juices, while my preferred way to eat black beans is over steamed rice topped with sliced avocado and pico de gallo.
If looking to dress things up, beans are an ideal accompaniment to grilled meats, tasty wrapped up in flour or corn tortillas, or, when meat is added, a hearty entrée. This recipe for easy black beans is particularly versatile. Not too spicy, but infused with great smoky flavor from the addition of paprika, it is a crowd pleaser that is equally as good as a supporting side or the main course. As temperatures drop the beans can also be pureed to make a black bean soup or freeze beautifully meaning the effort of making a batch can be enjoyed over several weeks.
When preparing dried beans, soaking is necessary. For those that can remember, overnight soaking is the most simple method. Sorted beans are covered by 2-inches of cold water before being refrigerated for at least eight hours or as long as overnight. For those whose strength is not advanced planning, the quick soak method is necessary. Sorted beans are covered with 2-inches of water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and brought to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes then remove the beans from the heat, cover, and let sit for 2 hours. Both methods get you to the same place, but time dictates which one you will want to use. Happy cooking!
Easy Black Beans – Printer Friendly Recipe
You’ll find dried epazote at International grocery stores. Popular in Mexican cooking it’s taste is similar to oregano and it is often credited with helping alleviate gas. Perhaps why you’ll find it often in a pot of beans!
1 pound (16 ounces) dried black beans, sorted and rinsed
7 cups cold water
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped, plus an additional 4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried epazote
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 1/2 yellow onions, chopped
4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Pick over the beans and discard any broken beans before soaking them using the overnight or quick soak method. For the overnight method, cover sorted beans with 2-inches of cold water. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or as long as overnight. For the quick soak method, place sorted beans in a heavy bottomed pot and cover with two inches of cold water. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let sit, covered, for 2 hours. For both methods, drain the beans and proceed as directed.
Add the drained beans to a large pot with the 7 cups cold water. Add the onion, 2 chopped garlic cloves, and epazote and bring the water to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and partially cover the beans. Cook the beans for approximately 2 hours or until they are soft, stirring occasionally.
When beans are soft, heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and then add the chopped bell pepper, yellow onion, and remaining 4 chopped garlic cloves. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables have softened and begin to brown. Stir in the cumin and paprika and cook for 2 minutes.
Scrape the sautéed vegetables into the pot with the beans and season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook for another 20 minutes then stir in the chopped cilantro before serving.
These easy black beans are great as a side or as a filling for tacos. I even like them pureed as a hearty soup.