Homemade Black Beans

I am fascinated by Latin culture; the importance of family, the music, and of course, the food. I love how eating is intended to be an experience. When I was completing my dietetic internship, one of my rotations was in a predominantly Hispanic community in Queens, NY. My incredible preceptor, Gloria, is from Colombia. She took me under her wing and immersed me in the culture. She taught me more Spanish than I learned in my high school classes. We would take lunch daily and explore somewhere new. It was a beautiful summer and I tasted my way through Elmhurst.

One of my favorite meals at a local restaurant was simple, flavorful and delicious. Rice, beans, meat, arepa and avocado. Rice and beans are a staple dish in Hispanic culture. If you ask me, the secret is in the beans! I, of course, had to get in the kitchen and create a recipe that I could mindfully eat and be nourished and comforted by the nostalgia they bring for me.

If you are thinking that making homemade beans just is not worth the time, let me try to persuade you. Below I will give you two ways to make the same recipe. Once the chopping and preparation is over, it is a matter of stirring and giving some love to your pot of beans. Still reading? Good!

I think what deters most people from making beans from the dried form is the thought of having to soak them overnight. Maybe I am speaking for myself! One day I wanted to make beans and realized I forgot to soak the beans overnight. What’s a girl to do? Google to the rescue, of course. Through my research, I found that by adding dried beans to boiling water and taking the pot off of the heat, after an hour with the lid on, the beans are ready to be cooked. Boom! If you forget to soak your beans overnight, there’s your method.

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Vegetable or chicken stock, tomato paste and smoked paprika add depth and aroma to this dish. I am not sure how authentic my recipe is overall but I can tell you it is delicious and will be a crowd pleaser.

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Homemade Black Beans

Ingredients:

1 lb. dried black beans, soaked overnight in water or via quick method mentioned above

1/4 cup olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, diced finely

1 bell pepper, diced finely (any color, I use red)

2 cloves of garlic, minced

32 oz. vegetable or chicken stock

16 oz. water

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons, salt

1 teaspoon smoked paprika (sweet paprika works, too, if you do not like a smokey flavor)

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1 dried bay leaf

Directions:

In a large pot over medium heat, add the olive oil, onion and bell pepper. Sauté for 10 minutes, or until onions are translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional minute. Add the beams, stock, water, tomato paste, cumin, salt, paprika, oregano, cilantro and bay leaf. Stir all ingredients together and bring the beans to a boil. Reduce to medium-low heat and simmer for 2-2.5 hours, or until beans are soft. Taste and adjust for seasoning, if necessary, before serving.

*This recipe can also be made in a pressure cooker or Instant Pot by using high pressure and setting the timer for 35 minutes. When I make beans in the Instant Pot I skip the sauté step.

*Beans freeze really well and it is a great thing to do since the recipes makes a large quantity.

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RecipesKERRY FANNON