Spicy, Citrusy Black Beans

3 Oct

spicy citrusy black beans

On my first trip to the supermarket in my new neighborhood here in Buenos Aires, I was surprised to see hardly any canned beans – and the small cans that were there (I’m used to stocking up on large 32-ounce cans) were quite expensive. So I decided to make this into an opportunity to try my hand at cooking dried beans. I bought some dried black beans, looked up a promising recipe, and was amazed at how easy it was to cook these up. Admittedly, they took quite a long time to cook (though I suspect they had been sitting in the supermarket bulk bins for some time), so I still have to perfect the process (I may try soaking them for two days next time), but the flavors here are amazing. Enough spice for quite a kick, and the tartness of orange juice, lime juice, and red wine vinegar help round out the flavors. I would have really liked to use chipotle peppers in adobo here, so if you have some, definitely toss one in, and I hadn’t yet found a place with cilantro (luckily, I’ve been able to get my hands on some since cooking this), so there’s no pleasant sprinkle of fresh chopped cilantro on top. But even without those ingredients (as I’ve written the recipe here), these beans were delicious topped with salsa and sour cream and served alongside fried eggs for breakfast. Even plain, they’re fantastic.

Spicy, Citrusy Black Beans (adapted from Simply Recipes)
Yield: 4 servings


  • 2 cups dried black beans, rinsed and soaked overnight in cold water, then drained*
  • 5 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 1/2 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar

*Alternatively, you can cover them with boiling water, and soak for an hour or two.


  1. In a large pot, combine 2 cups dried black beans, rinsed and soaked overnight in cold water, then drained, 5 cups water, 2 bay leaves, and 1/2 Tbsp dried oregano. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer until the beans are soft but not quite done, 30 minutes to 1 1/2 hours (depending on the age and size of your beans, as well as how long you soaked them for).
  2. Meanwhile, in a large sautee pan, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat, then add 1 onion, diced and 1 bell pepper, diced, and sautee until translucent and starting to caramelize, about 10 – 15 minutes.
  3. Add 3 cloves garlic, minced, 1 jalapeno pepper, minced, 1/2 Tbsp ground cumin, and 1 1/2 Tbsp chili powder, and sautee until fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove from heat, and set aside until ready to use.
  4. When the beans are soft, remove and discard the bay leaves, and remove but reserve any extra cooking liquid until there is about 1/2-inch of liquid above the beans (I actually found that I didn’t have any extra cooking liquid).
  5. Stir in the sauteed onions, peppers, and spices and 1 tsp salt, and continue to simmer until the beans are completely cooked and the liquid has thickened, about an hour. Add reserved cooking liquid (or extra water), if needed.
  6. Stir in 1/4 cup orange juice, juice of 1/2 lime, and 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar. Taste, and add extra chili powder and salt, as needed.

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