Cuban Black Beans

Gluten-Free, Latin, Meatless, Sides / Wednesday, July 15th, 2009


I’m pretty ruthless about culling old magazines, but there are a few I just can’t part with.

People’s tribute to Jackie O. from summer 1994.

O’s September 2003 issue on finding your passion.

And the completely classic September 1998 issue of Martha Stewart Living. The one with the citron yellow Victorian chest of drawers on the cover. And the feature on Denyse Schmidt’s awesomely contemporary quilts. And instructions on how to play backgammon and make better spaghetti and completely clean the refrigerator and oven-dry vegetables and give haircuts.

It’s also the issue that featured a full menu of Cuban food, from mojitos to turkey picadillo to coconut-rum flan.

It’s a keeper.

I’ve been making these Cuban Black Beans since that issue came out.

The beans seem slow-cooked, even though they only take about 30 minutes, thanks to the recipe’s layers of flavor – which start with a base of simmered onions, garlic and bell peppers. When the onions are soft and translucent, you add the black beans and black-bean puree and a handful of spices that don’t seem to make sense at first, but they do.

And then, when the beans are starting to seem a little heavy, you stir in a tablespoon of vinegar, and it instantly brightens the flavor.

The final touch is a few tablespoons of cilantro, but I like to add them on the plate instead of in the pot to avoid that certain Palmolive flavor.

This is an easy recipe to reduce, but if you do have leftovers, they make a great black bean soup. Just add a few cups of chicken broth (depending on the quantity of beans you have left), bring it to a boil, and simmer for about 10 minutes. For extra flavor, you could cook a few slices of bacon in the pot before you add the beans, and garnish with a squeeze of lime juice, a little cheese and a spoonful of sour cream. When we have leftover rice, I like to add it to the soup or just spoon it into the bottom of my bowl and ladle the soup on top.

I’ve been known to eat these beans as a main course, but they make a fitting side to almost any meat, especially fish and grilled chicken. They are – dare I say it? – a good thing.

Cuban Black Beans

Adapted from “Martha Stewart Living” (September 1998)

Serves 12

  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 green bell peppers, finely diced
  • 4 cans black beans with juice, (15 1/2 ounces each )
  • 1 1/2 cups canned black-bean puree
  • 5 dried bay leaves (Be sure to discard these if you have leftovers.)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced red pepper, for garnish (optional)
  1. Heat olive oil in a medium stockpot set over medium-low heat. Add onions, garlic, and bell peppers; cook until onions are soft but still translucent, about 25 minutes.
  2. Add black beans, black-bean puree, bay leaves, cumin, and oregano. Season with salt and black pepper; stir.
  3. Cook mixture until thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in vinegar and cilantro. Garnish with more cilantro and the red pepper, if desired.

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26 thoughts on “Cuban Black Beans

  1. Real Simple. And Star. One for it's tidbits of goodness I wouldn't have otherwise known, and Real Simple cause it makes me laugh. I mean who sits around and thinks up 5 uses for a paper towel holder other than holding paper towels? Get a life.

    1. Yeah, all of the lists in Real Simple are pretty addictive. It's total container porn. I see Real Simple and think, I DO need a box to put my boxes in!

  2. Ditto on Real Simple. I hoard them and tear out recipes that date back to 2002. I don't make them all, but they go into the "Someday…" pile.
    I also have various copies of mags that I went out and bought after certain events – Time from Sept 11, 2001, People from Princess Di's Funeral, and Newsweek after Obama's election. Then there is the copy of my old college newspaper when we won the NCAA championship :-)

    1. I just sorted through my Real Simple "someday" recipes! They make them all look so good and so … simple.

      I pick up magazines after major events, too, but I totally forgot to buy one about Obama's election! I'll have to get a year-in-review.

  3. Great photo! I keep way too many magazines as well. Some are commemorative (for example, Obama-related) and others are just food magazines and I haven't gotten around to clipping the recipes I want to try so the stacks sit around the house.

    1. Thanks! Ohhh, I wasn't even thinking about the stacks of food magazines. Those are reference materials. ;)

      Seriously, I used to be better about clipping recipes from food magazines, but then I'd read the letters to the editor and someone would be raving about a recipe I'd completely missed in an issue I'd already tossed… So, I've just been keeping them.

      I probably need an intervention.

  4. I keep issues of "People" commemorating the deaths of certain celebrities (Princess Di, JFK Jr) <averts head in pathetic shame>

    1. No shame! Like I said, I cannot part with the Jackie O. issue. I just can't. And I'm pretty sure I have the Princess Di one around here somewhere …

  5. I've been wanting to make cuban black beans for a while. I even have a recipe from a mag, though I don't think it is martha stwert. They look yummy.

    1. They really hit the spot sometimes. You wouldn't think about it, but they're such a great side dish with grilled meat. By this time of the summer, I've usually OD'd on baked beans.

  6. I have every copy of Cottage Living and now that it isn't published I really feel like I should keep them – forever. In other magazines I keep the recipes before I recycle, but I have a full box (pretty large) of recipes. I f I did cook every day I would never be able to try them all. I consider it entertainment!

    The black beans look and sound great!

    1. I STILL miss Cottage Living! Pure eye candy. I'd hang on to those issues, too.

      Every few months, I try to sort through all the recipes I've clipped and get them into a binder, but I still find them stuck inside books and buried in my purse. You can never have too many recipes.

  7. Let's see (pulling magazine file now, per Real Simple organization idea): Some of these are hubs'. Sports Illustrated from Tennessee's 13-0 football season (1/13/99). The Newsweek from Jan, 2000 "Welcome to the 21st Century." The Newsweek from after the 9/11 attacks. The Newsweek that says "And the winner is . . ." with the freaky half Bush/half Gore face from 11/20/00, when the election was in limbo. All of the Obama election mags. A Real Simple celebrations special issue, because someday I WILL do a shower with birdhouses at every place setting. I have newspapers from the days that all of my kids were born. On the other end of the spectrum, there are the magazines that I buy in moments of weakness, like People with Jon Gosselin on the cover, or Us featuring Melissa Joan Hart losing that baby weight, and I hide them in the closet and then try to get rid of them before anyone sees me with them.

    These black beans sound fabulous! Love that they are so quick – they really do sound like they'd be great with lots of things.

    1. Oh, I wasn't even thinking about Jeff's magazine collection. Whoa.

      OK, in the interest of full disclosure, I also have a newspaper from our wedding day, Victoria magazine's women in business issue, Oxford American's special issue for Faulkner's 100th birthday and the People with Brad, Angelina and Shiloh on the cover. They just look so happy, I can't throw it away.

      I soooooo wanted to do a bird/nesting theme for my sister's shower. So many cute ideas. And the Martha robin's nest cupcakes. I mean, c'mon. Oh, well. Another time.

  8. Gorgeous black beans–they look really good. I have all the Dominos and all Christmas issues of any major food magazine and a bunch of commemorative issues. Not to mention all of the Donna Hay's since it started. Too many! ;-)

    1. You've got all the Dominos? LUCKY!!!

      Oh, I can't throw away holiday food magazines, either. I keep them until they fall apart, because I always tell myself, I'll make that peppermint semifreddo someday…

  9. Hi Rebecca! I just found your blog and I'm really enjoying it. I'm an English major foodie too – currently working on a PhD in American literature (Ezra Pound happens to be my personal bete noir).

    Once upon a time I had a stack of issues of Sassy, but my mom objected to the clutter. I wish I still had those! The size of my apartment now precludes magazine collecting, but I have been know to tear out individual articles and stash them in my desk.

    1. Hey, welcome! I'm so glad you found my site.

      Alas, I got rid of my stack of Sassys, too, and I'd LOVE to have them back. You couldn't get more 90s than Sassy.

      I find articles stashed everywhere! I'll think I have them all read or tossed or in a binder, and then I'll open a book and – voila! – more articles. At least I don't absent-mindedly collect cats.

  10. Wow. I had some black beans that had to be used, so right after I set them to soak, I came to my computer to figure out where to put them – and this is the first thing I see. I'm eating – and adoring – the results right now.

  11. Yay, I'm very excited to see this recipe. I have just this year found that I LOVE black beans and being Puerto Rican I only know the Puerto Rican way to make them. :) Now I know! Thanks!

    I don't cut up my magazines. I'm very anal about them and my books. I treat them gently.

    1. Well, now I've got to look up the Puerto Rican way to make them.

      My mother is a librarian. She would be so proud that you're gentle with your books and magazines. I'm turning her hair gray right this minute.

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