We all need shortcuts in our busy lives and this easy recipe for Cuban Black Beans is perfect for one of your weeknight meals. When you don’t have time to soak dried beans and cook them for several hours, try this quick recipe using a few simple ingredients from your pantry. You can transform canned black beans into a delicious, healthy and inexpensive side dish that you and your family will enjoy.
Years ago, a friend who was originally from Cuba, shared her recipes with me for slow roasted lechon asado (roast pork) and frijoles negros (black beans). Over the years, I have made a few changes to the quantities listed in the recipes she gave me but they are still true to her original. I’ve shared my version of Cuban roast pork but never the recipe for Cuban black beans.
If you have a big family, cooking a large pot of beans is a wonderful way to serve a healthy, satisfying and economical meal BUT if you are cooking for just one or two, you might be more inclined to cook a smaller amount and that is where using can beans is a good alternative. In fact, many canned beans today match the quality of dried beans so I make no apologies for using shortcuts when I want a meal on the table in less than an hour.
Quick Cuban Black Beans
Serves 2, adjust the recipe accordingly.
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
- 1/2 small onion, chopped
- 1/2 bell pepper*, diced (while most recipes call for green, I often use red bell pepper for added color and flavor)
- 1 – 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 15 oz. can of black beans
- 1/2 c., more if needed, chicken stock, vegetable broth or water
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tsp. red wine vinegar
- cilantro for garnish (optional)
- wedges of lime and finely chopped onion (optional)
Heat 1 Tbsp. of oil in a pot over medium heat, add the onion and pepper then sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for about a minute. Add the beans, stock, bay leaf, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until the liquid thickens and the flavors meld, adding a little extra liquid if necessary. Add the remaining oil and the vinegar, stir then taste for any additional seasoning, if needed. To serve, remove the bay leaf then garnish with the cilantro, if desired. Lime wedges and finely chopped onion, as a side for the beans, can be served at the table.
- There is a question among cooks and food experts on whether you should drain and rinse canned beans. If you do rinse canned beans, add some water, stock or broth to make up for the drained liquid as the beans will thicken as they cook.
- A sofrito of onion, green pepper and garlic is traditionally used in Cuban cooking. Some people find that green bell peppers are hard to digest and if so, red or yellow bell peppers can be substituted. If you like spicy dishes, you could use a hot chili pepper as well.
- If you are serving 4 to 6 people, I suggest using 3 cans of beans and double the other ingredients. I would also suggest the same if you want to make the recipe using dried black beans, cook as directed on the packaging…double the vegetables and seasonings.
- The beans can be prepared ahead of time, just add a little water when reheating.
- The added bonus of the Cuban black beans is that they are high in fiber, low in fat, vegetarian and vegan (if using water instead of chicken stock) as well as gluten free.
I grew up having a bowl of beans, usually navy or pintos, as a main course about once a month when my mother had a leftover ham bone. However, it wasn’t until I moved to Miami, that I tried black beans at a local Cuban restaurant. I was thrilled when my friend gave me her recipe and have been cooking Cuban style black beans ever since. While I love beans cooked from scratch, you need to plan ahead. There is the long soak, usually over night, before simmering the beans for several hours. When you are like me and don’t have the time yet want a healthy and quick side dish, try this recipe using canned black beans.