Friday, May 6, 2011

Foodie Friday: Sacrificing Cost Not Flavor... Cuban Black Beans

People often ask my how I cook healthy meals for my family with such a small budget. Some look at me like I must not be feeding my family. Believe me, we eat well. I just buy most items on sale, don't buy too many pre-packaged items, and try to shop seasonly.

One of my favorite, versatile foods is the dried bean. They are much cheaper than their canned counterpart and pack a lot of protein. Plus, they hold a lot of flavor. Since my husbby's family is part Cuban, I've been introduced to a delicious family recipe for Cuban Black Beans.

My husband's late grandfather is from Cuba. He and my hubby's grandmother worked together to create this recipe, based on what he remembered as a child and young adult in Cuba.This recipe is a bit different from Cuban Black Beans that you might order from a Cuban restaurant, in that this recipe has a thicker sauce. I prefer the thicker sauce because the entire recipe lends itself to many different uses. I can guarantee that most people have all these ingredients already on hand in their pantry.

This is a great recipe, if you need to feed a crowd. For my little family, I can get several meals out this — making it an extra frugal meal. Score!

Before I get to the family recipe, here are a few of my favorite ways to use up a single batch of the recipe (it makes a crock-pot full of black beans):
  • Main course: Serve the beans over a bed of yellow rice and roasted chicken. We like to have it with a side salad.
  • Side dish #1: Serve a smaller portion over a bed of rice, all along side sliced, grilled chicken or steak. As pictured above, I've served it with grilled zucchini and toasted cuban bread with tomato and basil.
  • Side dish #2: Serve like a soup -- topped with sour cream and freshly chopped cilantro. Oh, and don't forget to squeeze a bit of fresh lime juice over the top, just before serving. Yummy!
  • Ingredient: I like to mixed this into roasted tomato and corn quesadillas.

Recipe by Grandma Grace and  Papaw Gus

1 – 16 oz bag dry black beans (Goya brand)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 Bay leaf
1/3 cup olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small can tomato paste
1 small jar sliced green olives (stuffed with pimentos)

  1. The night before, rinse beans in bowl under cold water. Discard any floating beans. Remove any stones and drain beans.
  2. Place beans in crockpot and cover with water. Make sure there is about 3 inches of water covering beans. Add bay leaf, salt, and baking soad. Cover and soak overnight.
  3. In morning, turn crockpot to HIGH. Cook for about 6 hours (do not remove lid). Or set to LOW for 8-9 hours. Beans are done when they can be mashed with a fork.
    NOTE: make sure about ½ inch of water above beans during cooking. If it needs more water, pour in hot water.
  4. Once beans are cooked: In skillet, saute oil and garlic in olive oil until onions are clear. Do NOT burn!
  5. Pour contents of skillet (oil, onion, and garlic) into crockpot and stir. Return cover and cook for an additional 15-20 minutes.
  6. Add can of tomato paste; stir until dissolved. Return cover and cook for an additional 15 minutes.
  7. Pour sliced olives and all juice into crockpot; stir, return cover, and cook for addition 10-15 minutes.
  8. Taste broth to see if salty enough.

    The sauce of the beans should be fairly thick. If not thick enough after all cooking, pour sauce (no beans) into pot. Simmer on stove until sauce reduces to desired thickness and stir back into beans.


  1. Ok I have the beans soaking...will let you know how it turns out:)

  2. Hey I forgot to tell you but the beans turned out good :) DH doesn't like green olives so next time I may omit and sub tomatoes I think. But I love knowing that I can cook dried beans. It always seemed so complicated before :) Thanks!

  3. Being able to cook dry beans was really liberating for me, too! haha! Saves SO much money! If you leave out the green olives you may need something to replace the acidity  (provides some saltiness to the sauce) with some red wine vinegar. Or you can just put the liquid in from the olives but not the olives themselves.

  4. great! thanks so much :) I will be trying this tomorrow I think :) Will let you know how it turns out. Do you just season the chicken with the adobo and grill? I really don't cook cuban so I'm not sure.

  5. I'm also weary of the "high" setting. If I'm leaving for the day, I will set it to "low" and let it go for 8-9 hrs. Great question... will need to update the post.

  6. have you ever left your slow cooker on high when you weren't home? It makes me nervous. Can you cook it on low? Just wondering :)

  7. Sure thing! We like it more saucy than you might find a cuban restaurant, but I think it helps it make more of a meal.

  8. also, how do you season the meat? :)

  9. For steak, I just season it how I would normally season steak. For chicken, I will roast with some adobo seasoning, then shred it and mix with the yellow rice.

  10. Awesome! Found it! I will be trying this in the future..thanks!! Will let you know how it turns out :) I may blog about it but I won't put the recipe on..I'll link it over here :) if that's okay