Monday, August 02, 2010

Smoky Black Beans

I love black beans.  They are one of my all-time favorite foods.  I may have had a hankering to make black beans for dinner tonight because we went to a crummy suburban Mexican restaurant in Hagerstown for dinner last night, where not only did they serve only bad refried beans with their food, but we strongly suspected that they were using American cheese.  Very sad.  Our dinner tonight was much, much better.

Featuring peppers, basil and oregano from the garden, we ate the beans accompanied by brown rice, feta cheese, and another peach tomato salad (with a drizzle of lime to make it more Mexican side-dish appropriate).  Also visible in the picture at top - fun napkins that I made using Metro Cafe fabric.  I originally thought that we would use these for outdoors to go with our bright red plates, but we have been enjoying their bright summeriness inside too.

Smoky Black Beans
  • 1 lb dried black beans or 3 16 oz cans, drained
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or canola oil
  • 2 chopped onions
  • 2-3 chopped peppers (more if you are using small ones like my garden has been producing)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil (or 1-2 teaspoons dried)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ancho chili peppers
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon ground chipotle chili peppers (this is what gives it the smoky flavor)
  • salt to taste
Either pre-soak the beans for 6-8 hours, then drain water and add new water to cover by 1-2", or just cook in a pressure cooker (my preference!), or use canned beans.  While the beans are cooking (if not using canned), chop the vegetables and begin to cook.  Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat, then add the onions and saute for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the peppers, garlic, herbs and spices, and continuing sauteing until the peppers start to soften (or until the beans finish cooking).  Add the beans a a cup or two of the cooking liquid (or water if using canned beans).  Simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for another 15-20 minutes.  Mash the beans or use a hand blender to partially blend (or remove part of the beans to a blender then return to the pot - be careful not to burn yourself).  Add salt to taste, let cool for a few minutes and serve.  Makes about 6-8 servings - plenty for leftovers!

These make great leftovers - the flavor deepens when they have a chance to sit (so be careful not to add too much spice for your taste!).  Also - you can put pretty much any vegetable in these that you please, they are also a great way to use up zucchini.

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