Cuban Black Beans (Frijoles negros) are central to Cuban cuisine, served as a side dish with almost every meal and as a main course, scooped onto steaming rice with toppings like sliced avocado and lime wedges. Black beans from scratch are great, but the fact is many of us don’t always have time for an overnight soak and hours of cooking. When you want your black beans fast this recipe will give you delicious Cuban black beans in 35 minutes.
I was back home in Boston last week where my slow cooker lives. I’ve been missing it in London and couldn’t wait to pull it out for slow cooker ropa vieja (Cuban shredded beef stew). The combo of being back in my home kitchen and having cuban stew simmering away that needed a side of black beans, inspired me to do some recipe testing. I developed a recipe for quick Cuban black beans using canned beans instead of dried and I have to say it was muy delicioso, rich and creamy, infused with flavors of cumin and garlic, the perfect side dish with Ropa Vieja and even better the next day as a main dish, scooped onto rice with sliced avocado and a squeeze of lime juice.
HOW TO MAKE QUICK CUBAN BLACK BEANS
A key component of Authentic Cuban black beans is the sofrito which consists of onions, garlic and green or red bell pepper. These aromatic vegetables are sautéed to create the flavor base for the beans. Pork is a popular ingredient in Cuban cuisine. A small amount of bacon adds a wonderful smokiness to this dish. Vegetarians can substitute vegetarian bacon or leave it out entirely. The beans will still be delicious.
Start by sautéing the bacon in a bit of olive oil.
Once the bacon is nicely browned in spots and has rendered some fat, add the aromatics: red bell pepper, onion and garlic. When the sofrito has cooked for a few minutes add the first can of beans to the pot and smash them with the back of a fork for extra creaminess.
Add the rest of the beans with their liquid, along with vinegar and spices. Cumin and oregano are predominant spices in traditional Cuban black beans. I love cumin and I wanted its flavor to dominate so I decided not to include oregano in this recipe. If you love oregano, feel free to add a teaspoon. I’m sure it will be delicious.
Simmer for 15 minutes and your delicious Cuban Black Beans are ready.
HOW NUTRITIOUS ARE BLACK BEANS?
Black beans are extremely healthy. They’re a good source of protein and a rich source of soluble fiber, the kind that lowers cholesterol. They also provide a good amount of calcium, iron, folic acid, and potassium.
ARE CANNED BLACK BEANS AS HEALTHY AS DRIED?
If you’re wondering about the relative health benefits of canned vs dried beans, here’s the scoop: they’re about the same except that some brands add lots of salt to the can. You can reduce the amount of salt by draining and rinsing the beans but then you lose other nutrients as well as salt. So if you’re concerned about too much salt I suggest you look for low salt or salt free black beans.
If you’re looking for some good excuses to make these black beans as a side dish, here are some delicious mains that call out for Cuban Black Beans on the side:
- Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja: Cuban Shredded Beef Stew with Peppers and Tomatoes
- Cuban Picadillo: Ground Beef Stew with Tomatoes and Olives
- Chicken Enchiladas Verdes with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
Here’s the recipe for Quick Cuban Black Beans. If you try this recipe I hope you’ll come back to leave a comment. I’d love to know what you think!
Quick Cuban Black Beans
These Cuban Black Beans are creamy, flavorful, highly nutritious and a fantastic side dish with Cuban, Mexican and Latin American cuisine. For a complete meal serve Cuban black beans over steaming brown or white rice. Garnish with sliced avocado, lime wedges, chopped cilantro, grated cheese or sour cream.
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 20 mins
- Total Time: 35 mins
- Category: main dish or side dish
- Cuisine: Cuban
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 4 ounces slab bacon cut into 1-inch by ½-inch lardons
- 1 large red bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed, chopped
- 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
- 6 large cloves of garlic, minced
- 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
- 3 15-ounce cans of black beans with their liquid
- 1 tablespoon cider or white vinegar
- 2 bay leaves
- 1½ teaspoons Kosher salt, or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- ½ cup – 1 cup of water or broth (chicken or vegetable), if needed
- Lime Wedges
- Chopped cilantro
- Sour cream
- Cotija Cheese, grated
- Sliced Avocado
- Heat oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add bacon and sauté, stirring often, until it starts to brown, about 3 minutes. Add bell pepper and onion. Cook, stirring, for one minute. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes longer to soften the vegetables. Add cumin and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds to toast the cumin.
- Add 1 can of beans with their liquid to the pot. Use a potato masher or the back of a fork to gently mash the beans. Add the other two cans of beans with their liquid, vinegar, bay leaves, 1½ teaspoons salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
- Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Adjust taste and texture to your liking by adding additional water or broth and salt and pepper.
- Serve as a side dish with lime wedges and chopped cilantro or as a main dish scooped over steaming brown or white rice and topped with garnishes of chopped cilantro, lime wedges, grated cheese and/or sour cream.