Holy frijole!

black beansBeans, or frijoles in Spanish, are a staple in Central American cuisine. Whether they’re whole beans, re-fried, or mixed with rice, you’ll find some variety of it often in Latin American homes.

I grew up eating black beans and kidney beans and still love them to this day. I don’t make them as often because even though they’re easy to make, it’s a long cooking process.

Beans are super healthy for you. Eat Right Ontario, a resource of nutritional information provided by Registered Dietitians states, “Beans are rich in fibre and protein and low in fat, and they have vitamins and minerals such as folate, potassium and iron. “

Last year I wrote this post for Canola Eat Well and people were surprised at how simple these beans are to prepare.

Health Canada’s Food guide recommends a 175 mL, (¾ cup) serving of beans. That’s a ¾ cup of fibre, protein and iron, who wouldn’t want that? It’s easy to incorporate beans into any meal of the day.

My dad makes the best black beans from scratch. Latin Americans do not load their beans with molasses, brown sugar or tomato sauce. My dad’s recipe is twofold: 1) cooking the beans and 2) refried beans.

Black Beans

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dry black beans
  • 8 cups water, divided plus additional if needed
  • 3 garlic gloves (whole)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • dash of salt (optional)

Instuctions:

To soak beans
Rinse the beans in cold water. Pick through them and discard any wrinkled, discoloured or broken beans and any dirt or tiny stones that may be mixed in. Add black beans to a large pot. Pour 4 cups of cold water over the beans so that the water completely covers the beans. Cover with pot lid and let stand overnight.

To cook beans
1. Drain the soaked beans and rinse. Return them to pot.
2. Add 4 cups of water to the pot, again making sure the water covers the beans.
3. Add garlic cloves and bay leaves to the pot.
4. Bring to a boil. Cover, leaving a gap to allow steam to escape. Reduce heat and let simmer for 2 hours or until the beans are soft. Add salt once beans start to soften. Check them often to make sure beans are not drying out. Add more water if needed.
5. Drain and discard garlic cloves and bay leaves before serving.

Another good option is to whip up a batch of refried beans. The great thing about black beans is that you do not have to add anything to them, but you can if you wish. Spice up your refried beans to your desire. Cumin, cilantro or jalapenos compliment them well.

Refried Black Beans

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked or canned black beans; drained
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • Optional add-ins: cumin, cilantro (dry), minced garlic or chopped jalapenos

Instuctions:
1. Heat oil in frying pan.
2.Place beans in a blender. Blend to desired consistency OR mash beans with a potato masher.
3. Add beans. Add optional add-ins if desired.
4. Fry until beans are heated through.

I use black beans as a side dish on its own, toss them whole into salads like this one, nachos, huevos rancheros or Mexican Baked Eggs. Refried beans go well on tostadas, in burritos or in a taco dip.

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