I've spent my whole life soaking black beans before cooking them just like every other bean around. But Russ Parsons of the L.A. Times recently chastised me for it, claiming that un-soaked black beans are better in almost every way. I put it to the test, comparing soaked and un-soaked beans for flavor, texture, color, ease of preparation, and, er, digestibility. Guess which method came out on top?
'black bean' on Serious Eats
Sometimes the happiest cooking is also the easiest, and in the case of beans, taking the easy route can produce something damn delicious.
Crunchy and tender baby bok choy goes for a spin with a punchy sauce made with lots of garlic and fermented black beans. It's a flavor-packed stir-fry with minimal prep and all the flavor, minus the gloppy sauce.
Ropa vieja, the classic Cuban dish of shredded stewed beef flavored with a vinegary tomato and pepper sauce, is a natural choice for the slow cooker, stewed all day and served with rice and beans.
These black bean burgers have a complex, satisfying flavor and robustly meaty texture that even devout carnivores will love (seriously, try them with bacon on top). The mixture comes together in just 25 minutes and can be used to make patties for cooking either on the backyard grill or indoors in a skillet.
When I was a kid, we had a strict "30 minutes of screen time per day" rule, which meant that every day was filled with an epic internal struggle. You can bet your butt that now that I'm my own boss, I make as few forced choices as possible. For instance, why choose only one type of chili when you can have several? Last year, I took pains to develop a recipe for the Best Vegetarian Bean Chili, which is admittedly fantastic, but you know what else is fantastic? Sweet potato chili. And that's what we're making today.
A vegan black bean and sweet potato chili packed with rich, complex chili flavor.
As any chef or grandmother will tell you, if you want a soup that's as tasty as it is hearty, a soup that's soulfully good, then a bit of technique is in order. Take, for example, this rich, savory, and spicy black bean soup flavored with smoky chorizo and chipotle peppers, with tender braised chicken. Now, I could just add all the ingredients to a pot, set it simmering on the stovetop, and come back a while later to a perfectly satisfying meal. But by taking a few extra steps, I end up with a bowl of soup that'll knock your socks off with flavor. I'm serious. Knock. Your. Socks. Off.
A bowl of black beans and rice is pure comfort food, at least for me. But I'm always looking for new tricks, because while the concept sounds simple, it's surprisingly easy to end up with a batch that is dry and flavorless.
A quick and easy one-pot vegan chili made with black beans and squash.
Tamales are a staple in many South American countries, and are great for both a filling brunch and a quick snack. For the filling chicken thighs are simply seasoned and grilled, giving the meat a bit more flavor then the more common braised-to-boiled meat. Half the black beans are mashed to give the filling some body as well as some whole beans for texture.