There was a nutrition professor at Texas A&M oddly obsessed with the health benefits of black beans…and rightly so. The little guys are packed with nutrients. Top them with sofrito and they enter a whole other arena. Sofrito??? You might ask. And then we might say, “Yes please!” Sofrito is any combination of aromatics like onions, peppers, garlic, herbs, spices sautéed until soft and amazing. We like to serve it on top a nice steaming bowl of black beans and call it meal. Such deliciousness requires chopping an onion and onion chopping almost always equals tears. How is this to be avoided??? This is something we did not learn at A&M. By chewing gum? Lighting a candle? Spraying cutting board with vinegar? Watching (or reading) The Help? Oh yes, The Help. Aibileen and Minnie are full of tips in the kitchen. One of which is to hold a matchstick between your teeth while you are doing your chopping (but don’t light it!!). We’ve tried it. It seems to help but not as much as chilling the onion prior to cutting it or wearing googles if you are in to that.. Aibileen is full of wisdom and taught us much more than the ‘ol matchstick trick….
Thanks Aibileen. Now.. on to the recipe!!
For these black beans you will need:
2 1/2 cups dry black beans (rinse and sort beans… put in a pot)
1/2 a green bell pepper cut in a few large strips
1/2 a yellow onion cut in large chunks
2 garlic cloves cut in big slices
1/2 a lime cut in rounds
2 bay leaves
1 serrano pepper
Add 6 cups of water and soak overnight if you want to cook them the next morning. Alternatively you could soak them all day if you want to cook the next evening. Beans don’t sleep so it doesn’t really matter to them.
Drain presoaked beans and vegetables. Discard lime slices but leave the bay leaves, onion, bell pepper, garlic, and serrano. Add 8 cups of water with:
1 t of cumin
1 t of salt
1/2 t of pepper
2 fresh bay leaves
1 T of fresh lime juice (just the juice, not the whole lime)
1 T Apple Cider Vinegar (if you don’t have this then just double the lime juice)
……..And get cookin’. Bring beans up to a boil then partially cover pot and reduce to a low simmer on low for 2 – 2 1/2 hours or until tender. Be aware of your water level. While “beans don’t burn on the grill” they most certainly will if they get dry. So, add more water if needed.
As they cook you can whip up your sofrito. You will need:
1 T of olive oil
1/2 yellow onion (diced)
1/2 bell pepper (diced)
1 clove of fresh garlic (minced)
2 serrano peppers (seeded and chopped)
……..Heat olive oil in a skillet and sauté onions, bell pepper, garlic and seranos for 15-20 minutes or until soft and delicious..salt and pepper to taste.
This is just enough to be a little topping for your beans…If you want more, by all means, double or triple this amount…Your call. Sofrito is ready. Set aside.
As beans are finished remove bay leaves and cooked serrano. At this point they are good enough to eat…but to make them even better we do THIS:
To a blender, add the large chunks of cooked vegetables along with 1 cup of cooked black beans. (Beware! Too much hot stuff in a blender results in an explosion of said hot stuff) Hold the lid of your blender and pulse, releasing steam as needed.
Add the mixture back to your pot of black beans and stir. Now its official. They are ready and will taste even better the next day…Seems like a lot of steps just for a pot of beans but believe us, they are delicious and they will feed a crowd!!
Serve topped with sofrito and maybe some crumbled cotija cheese….Add a green salad or a crusty piece of bread on the side and you’ve got a meal.
Also would be awesome with our Enchildas Muy Asombroso.