Beans, beans, good for your heart

There’s nothing like coming home at the end of the day and smelling a pot of beans simmering in the kitchen. Beans are so simple, so yummy, so cheap. We prefer black beans, because they seem to have their own distinct flavor and don’t need much to make them delicious.

My basic black bean recipe is so easy, it’s embarrassing. I got the idea from a Rick Bayless cookbook, and we’ve been making these beans ever since.

Black Beans

  • 1 pound dry black beans
  • 1/2 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 cups water
  • Salt to taste

Clean and rinse the beans, making sure to remove any rocks or damaged beans. Add them to a 2 to 3 quart crockpot along with the onion, oil, and water. Cook on high for 4 to 5 hours, or on low for 7 to 8 hours, until beans are tender. Add salt during last hour of cooking (usually 1 to 2 teaspoons is plenty for us).

This amount of water makes brothy beans, which we happen to love. We like to serve the beans with their broth in a bowl, topped with chopped tomato, crumbled queso fresco, and avocado. We usually have tons of leftovers, so we’ll make black bean chalupas, flautas, or tacos the next day. To “refry” the beans the next day, I just plop them in a skillet and heat them up, mashing with a potato masher until they’re as mushed as we like them.

You can also soak the beans for a few hours or overnight, and discard the soaking water to get rid of some of the gas-causing compounds in the beans. If you don’t have a crockpot, you can simmer the beans on the stove for a couple of hours, checking them occasionally to make sure they haven’t dried out (if they have, you can add hot water as needed).

Basically, you can’t go wrong with beans. I don’t think we’ve ever had a bad pot of beans, whether they were pinto, black, or any other kind. We always make a big pot of them, since they can be stored in the refrigerator for 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

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