Beans and rice are a staple for good reason—they're hearty, simple, and a perfect blank canvas for many different flavors. Deborah Madison gives several variations for both beans and rice in her recently re-released cookbook, The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, one of the greatest of which is this creamy amalgamation of heirloom spotted black beans with New Mexican chilies. Madison cooks the beans in a pressure cooker, making them accessible any day of the week, and spikes them with onion, cumin, and epazote in addition to the chilies. A generous handful each of avocado, tomato, and cilantro brighten the dish, and a spoonful of sour cream adds a final flourish of richness.
Why I picked this recipe: I could eat black beans at every meal.
What worked: The beans themselves are wondrously creamy and flavorful, but the real winner here is the broth. It carries much more of the spice from the chilies, and would be perfect in lieu of water for cooking rice.
What didn't: Nothing.
Suggested tweaks: If you don't have a pressure cooker, you can prepare the beans in a Dutch oven as written through step 3. After adding the water, bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, partially cover, and continue to simmer until the beans are tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. You can leave out the epazote if you can't find it. Black beans will work just fine if you can't find any heirloom beans. Serve the beans with steamed brown rice or cornbread.
Reprinted with permission from The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison. Copyright 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- 1 cup black, Black or Red Nightfall, or Anasazi beans
- 2 tablespoons safflower or light sesame oil
- 1 onion diced
- 2 dried red New Mexican chili pods, stems and seeds removed
- 1 large sprig of epazote
- 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
- 1 teaspoon toasted, ground cumin seeds
- 1 quart water
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- To finish: diced tomato, sliced avocado, minced cilantro, and sour cream or creamy yogurt, optional
Rinse the beans then cover them with boiling water to soak for at least an hour.
Heat the oil in a pressure cooker. Add the onion, epazote, chili pods, and Mexican oregano. Cook over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Stir in the cumin, then drain the beans and add them to the pot with the water and 1 teaspoon salt.
Put on the lid, bring the pressure to high, and maintain for 20 minutes. Allow the pressure to drop slowly or do a quick release. Taste to make sure the beans are done and if they aren’t, continue simmering, covered (but not under pressure), until they are.
Dish the beans into shallow bowls and strew over the diced tomatoes, sliced avocado, and cilantro. Drizzle over sour cream or yogurt, and serve.