Friday, January 14, 2011

What can I do with a can of black beans?

Last night I assigned myself the task of cleaning out and organizing the cabinets in our kitchen that house our pantry items, cans and dry goods. Not what the average person decides to do at 9 o'clock at night, no. I do weird shit at weird times. It's all part of my charm. Or so I'm told. Or so I tell myself...

I digress. 

At any rate, I found many hidden gems in the cabinets, including (7) cans of black beans. Yes, really. I know what you're thinking: What white girl in their right mind has that many cans of black beans in their pantry?

Black beans are really versatile and can be used in so many ways. They're very inexpensive (I've paid as little as 25 cents a can) and can be used to replace meat in some meals. Not that I've got anything against meat. :)

And here's your quick health lesson for the day: Black beans are also really good for you! Black beans are a great source of dietary fiber which has been shown to naturally help lower cholesterol. Black beans also have a high fiber content which helps keep blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal, making them a great choice for people with diabetes or hypoglycemia. They're also virtually fat-free and a high quality source of protein. New research proves that black beans are rich in antioxidants as well. Antioxidants destroy free radicals and when eaten regularly, have been shown to offer the body protection against heart disease, cancer and aging. All that from a can of black beans. 

Sooo...if you've got a can or two (or 7) of black beans sitting in your pantry, here's some ideas on what to do with them! 

Photo courtesy of Paul Goyette:

You can use this recipe to stretch a cheap pound of ground beef into a big meal for the entire family. 

Here's what you need:

1 Tablespoon oil
1 large onion, chopped (about a cup and a half) 
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 lb. ground beef
1 Tbs. chili powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 can diced tomatoes in juice
1/2 cup sofrito tomato cooking base from a 12 oz. jar (Goya)
1 CAN BLACK BEANS, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups uncooked rice
Optional: Fresh cilantro and tortilla chips

Here's what you do:

1) In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, pepper and garlic. Stir frequently and cook until they've softened and really start smelling fabulous, about 7 or 8 minutes. Add ground beef to pot, break it up and give it a minute to hang out with the onions, pepper and garlic before adding chili powder, salt and cumin. Cook until browned and fully cooked through, about 5 minutes.

2) Next add the tomatoes with their juice and the sofrito to the meat mixture and bring it up to a boil. Stir in black beans and turn the heat down from medium to low. Put a lid on it and give it a stir every now and again until the tomatoes have softened and the flavors have all gotten acquainted, about 25-30 minutes. 

3) In the mean time, cook your rice according the package directions (can't beat Minute Rice). Serve beef and black bean chili over rice and garnish with cilantro and/or tortilla chips if you so choose.  

Delicious, healthy alternative to traditional Stuffed Peppers.

Here's what you need:

Non-stick cooking spray
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 CAN BLACK BEANS, drained and rinsed
6 tall green bell peppers, tops removed, seeded and cored
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup salsa
1/2 cup sour cream
Fresh chives, chopped

Here's what you do:

1) Generously spray skillet with non-stick cooking spray. Saute onions until golden. Add cayenne pepper, oregano, cumin and chili powder. Remove from heat.

2) Transfer onions to mixing bowl, add half the black beans to onions and mash using an old fashioned hand masher or a fork. Then stir in the other half of the beans into mixture. Do not mash further.

3) Spoon black bean mixture into bell peppers, then place bell peppers in crock pot. Sprinkle cheese over peppers, then pour salsa over cheese. Cover and cook on Low for 6 - 8 hours or on High for 3-4 hours. Serve each pepper with a dollop of sour cream and chives.

A little over 50 cents a burger. Much more cost effective than the frozen black bean burgers found in the grocery store. This recipe makes 4 burgers, it can easily be doubled or tripled. 

Here's what you need:

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 CAN BLACK BEANS, rinsed and drained
1 Tbsp. cumin
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs (try Panko, it's the bomb)
Salt and pepper to taste

Here's what you do:

1) Preheat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with foil and mist with non-stick cooking spray. Warm oil in skillet over medium heat. Add celery and onion, cook until softened, 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more.

2) Pour beans into a large bowl and use a potato masher and/or a fork to smush beans into a thick paste. Put veggies from skillet in bowl with bean paste. Stir in egg, cumin and bread crumbs. Season with salt and pepper to your taste. I add a glug or two of hot sauce as well. Use your fingers to form bean mixture into 4 patties. Be careful not to over mix.

3) Place patties on baking sheet and bake until firm and set, about 8-10 minutes on each side. Serve on a bun with lettuce, tomato and red onion.

Cheap, easy and yummy.You can change it up by using a combination of black beans and another type of bean if you like (navy beans, kidney beans, etc.) You can also add a can of whole kernel corn or a can of diced chilies just before the end of cooking time to add some color and flavor and/or a few shots of hot sauce.

Here's what you need:

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 CANS BLACK BEANS (do not rinse or drain)
1 16 oz. jar salsa
1 cup chicken broth
2-3 hot italian sausage links
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper

Here's what you do:

1) Warm olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, stirring frequently, until onion is softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Combine onion and garlic mixture, black beans (with their liquid), salsa and chicken broth in crock pot. Stir well, cover and cook on Low for 5 hours.

2) Add sausage and cook for 1 more hour. Use tongs to remove sausage. Slice sausage into bite-sized pieces and return to crock pot. Stir in cilantro and season with salt and pepper. Serve soup hot, garnish with sour cream.

Throw some extras in with filling before wrapping up your enchiladas, like cheddar cheese or green onions.

Here's what you need: 

2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 small white onion
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
2 CANS BLACK BEANS, drained but not rinsed
1 tsp. cumin
2 Tbs. tomato paste (look for tomato paste in a tube at the store, it's the greatest invention since sliced bread)
Salt and pepper to taste

Here's what you do:

1) Heat garlic in oil in skillet until it starts to pop around and make a little noise. Use a hand grater and grate onion right into skillet. Add jalapeno pepper, cook for two minutes. Add black beans and use the back of a fork to smash them up. Stir in cumin and tomato paste and season with salt and pepper to taste.  

2) Use filling for enchiladas as you would meat. I'll def. have to do a post devoted to Enchiladas at some point. Remind me. Love them.

Get on out to the kitchen and dig out that can of black beans hiding in the back of the cabinet. Hopefully you've got some new ideas for what to do with it. :) 


  1. You forgot black bean brownies!!!! Get your kids (or husband) to eat all that fiber without even knowing. My kids love beans but we used it to "trick" my nephews before!

  2. Black bean brownies??? Do tell... :)