Saturday, January 17, 2009

Traditional Cuban Black Beans over Rice

I can't help getting excited over new cookbooks, it is an addiction for me. Due to the number I currently have, I try to limit myself a bit but when I saw the recently published The Tropical Vegan Kitchen by Donna Klein, I had to buy it. Featuring recipes that are meat, egg, and dairy free from Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands, it seemed like a perfect way to keep on the eating healthy plan. 

As you can see, my first quick run through the book yielded about a dozen recipes I want to try and I will be making some of them over the next few weeks, but I am starting with a basic: Traditional Cuban Black Beans over Rice. With all of the more exciting and exotic recipes in the book, it is strange that I wanted to start with this one but the stomach knows what the stomach wants. I used to make a lot of black beans and rice, it's cheap, filling and full of healthy fiber (especially if you use brown rice) but often the beans were from a can. Lately, I have been cooking more with dried beans; they take longer but are cheaper and have more flavor and texture than their canned counterparts.

Donna Klein says:  "Not too spicy, not too sweet, these Cuban black beans live up to the time honored tradition of all-around appeal. Use them as a topping for baked white or sweet potatoes, as a filling for tacos, burritos and quesadillas or as a dip for tortilla chips in lieu of refried beans."  

Traditional Cuban Black Beans Over Rice
The Tropical Vegan Kitchen by Donna Klein
Makes 8 servings

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion (about 8 ounces), chopped
1 medium green bell pepper (about 6 ounces), chopped
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
5 cups water
1 pound dried black beans, soaked overnight in cold water to cover, and drained
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
2 Tbsp chopped pimentos (optional), drained
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 Tbsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
2 bay leaves

6 cups hot cooked rice

In a medium stock pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring 2 minutes. Add the water, beans, tomato paste, pimentos (if using), vinegar, sugar, salt, cumin, oregano, black pepper, red pepper flakes and bay leaves. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally, or until beans are tender. Discard the bay leaves. Serve warm, over the rice.

Per serving: Cal 478, Protein 18g, Total Fat 8g, Sat Fat 1g, Cholesterol 0mg, Carb 85g, Dietary Fiber 11g, Sodium 575mg.

 I made the recipe as written, except I was out of cider vinegar so I used a coconut vinegar I bought for a Filipino recipe instead. I had the optional pimentos in my pantry so I put them in. The beans took about 2 hours to reach the point I like--tender but not mushy and still slightly firm. I served them over brown rice to up the fiber content and nutritional value and topped it with some chopped cilantro and just a bit of salty, crumbly cotija cheese. They are delicious! As Donna says, the beans are not too spicy or too sweet, they are just right. If you like more spice you could easily up the red pepper flakes or put in some hot sauce.  

I made these beans yesterday, when I was sitting out the pouring rain, high-wind warnings and cool weather from the storm front that moved over the islands. The kitchen smelled divine with the pot of beans bubbling away and they were the perfect comfort food on a very windy. cooler than usual day. I will make these again and I look forward to trying and posting more recipes from this cookbook.

Happy weekend!  Don't forget Souper Sunday is tomorrow so if you made soup or a soup-like dish and want to be included in the round up tomorrow, let me know. You can find all the Souper Sunday details here.


  1. That sounds great, I love a good bean recipie! I'll have to try this one soon, we really need good comfort food here in RI with our record breaking cold! Kristin

  2. Very healthy and delish!
    I have never heard of coconut vinegar, sounds delightful!
    Love me some beany weanies..

  3. Your beans and rice look great. Sometimes the simplest recipes are the most comforting.

    I like to use dry beans whenever possible too, but like Natashya, I've never heard of coconut vinegar.

    I had a busy work week so I didn't get a chance to make a new soup (just one I already posted). But I did suggest that another blogger I found join Souper Sundays. I'll try harder next week.

  4. never heard of coconut vinegar but it sounds like a great substitution!

  5. We love beans too, and this sounds good!
    I posted for Souper Sundays...
    Have a good week!

  6. What a coincidence, I made Cuban beans and rice yesterday too, how funny! The coconut vinegar sounds like it would give these a great flavor. I will have to check out that cookbook, it sounds like lots of fun recipes :)

  7. I am glad that you cooked your beans from scratch as they are not only cheaper but I am sure the canned one must have some sort of preservative in them, not to mention food colouring. Your dish sounds delicious.

  8. I finally bought some dried beans to make, my first time! This looks delicious and healthy, yum!

  9. I like the idea of adding a bit of vinegar to the beans. Can you taste coconut in coconut vinegar?

  10. But but.. I like my beans porklardy.. Sounds good, though. :)

  11. Kristin--beans and rice are a great warming comfort food I find.

    Natashya, Laurie & Kat--I added a link about the coconut vinegar. I got it at an Asian Food store for a recipe I made awhile back. Since that recipe said I could sub the cider vinegar for coconut vinegar I did the reverse on this one.

    Debbie--yea! see you on Souper Sunday!

    Andrea--that is funny! I need to try some more recipes but so far I really like the book.

    Ivy--yes, I left out the better for you part of the dried beans!

    Reeni--fun! I think you'll like using them!

    Foodycat--there isn't a strong coconut taste that I find. Maybe a slight one and a slight sweetness.

    Jude--I think a little pork and beans is great sometimes too! ;-)


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