Cuban black beans and rice is a simple vegan recipe that’s full of flavor and cheap to make. Dry beans are simmered until tender before adding a tasty spiced sofrito, vinegar and sugar for a delicious sweet and sour note. Serve with rice for a hearty plant-based meal!
These Cuban black beans are made the right way, which is to say from scratch. If you think cooking dried beans is a hassle you’re partly correct. You do need to plan ahead and not want to eat within the next 30 minutes.
With a little foresight, however, you can put the beans on to soak the night before or in the morning before you go to work. Then sit on the couch with a glass of wine while the beans bubble away in the kitchen till they’re tender and much superior both in texture and flavour to canned beans.
The key to these delicious Cuban black beans and rice is the sofrito – a combination of sautéed bell pepper, onion and garlic infused with cumin, oregano and smoked paprika. The sofrito is stirred into the pot of beans midway through cooking in order to allow them to soak up all that aromatic seasoning.
While the beans are simmering you can cook a pot of rice according to the package directions. If you really want to go all out Caribbean style you can also make a side of patacones or tostones: fried green plantains.
By the time the beans are soft you should be left with a stew-like consistency or tender beans in a sort of gravy. Some people like to transfer some of the beans to a blender in order to make it even thicker. I didn’t do it this time as mine were perfectly thick but you can if you want.
What you don’t want is for the beans to be soupy. If you find yours to be a bit to much like a bean soup then go ahead and blend a bit of the beans or leave the lid off the pot for a few minutes to simmer away some of the liquid.
To serve you Cuban black beans pile a bowl full of rice and ladle your beans overtop. A few slices of avocado, tostones and a sprinkling of cilantro and/or a wedge of lime are nice as a garnish but totally optional.
- ½ pound (225 grams) dried black beans, soaked overnight or all day
- 1 litre (4 ¼ cups) water
- ½ green pepper, finely diced, divided
- ½ medium onion, finely diced, divided
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ¾ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar)
- ½ tablespoon sugar
- Long-grain rice, to serve
- Drain and rinse the soaked beans and put them in a pot along with the water, half the diced green pepper, ¼ of the diced onion, 2 cloves of the minced garlic and the bay leaf.
- Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to the lowest setting and cover the pot with the lid. Simmer for 45 minutes.
- After about 35 minutes start preparing the sofrito. In a pan heat the oil over medium heat and add the remaining onion. Sautee until tender then add the remaining green pepper. When the green pepper is tender add the remaining garlic and sautee for about a minute more or until the garlic is cooked. Add the cumin, oregano and paprika and fry, stirring continuously, for 30 seconds or until the spices are fragrant.
- Add this sofrito to the beans along with the salt, cover and simmer for 30 more minutes.
- You can start boiling water to cook the rice at this point.
- Finally, add the vinegar and sugar to the beans and simmer for 15 more minutes. If the beans seem to have a lot of water you can simmer them uncovered this time, otherwise cover them again. You can optionally transfer a portion of the beans to a blender and stir the blended beans back into the pot (I didn’t).
- Taste and add salt as necessary (I added an additional ½ teaspoon). Serve the rice into bowls with the black beans on top.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 4
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 360 Total Fat: 8g Saturated Fat: 1g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 6g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 279mg Carbohydrates: 59g Fiber: 10g Sugar: 10g Protein: 14g