Beans are a food that my mom would cook for me and my brothers pretty much every week growing up. They’re cheap and healthy, and so easy to make that my mom always said if she and my dad ever lost their jobs we would probably eat rice and beans every day. In fact, rice and beans together create a complete protein! With my very limited budget at school, this recipe is wonderful to have in my repertoire because I can make them on the weekend when I have a lot of time, and use them in all sorts of recipes throughout the week. Beware: once you make them homemade, you’ll struggle to enjoy the canned version!
A note on cooking: this recipe could not be easier to make, but the soaking does require a bit of forethought. If you don’t have time to soak the beans, you could make the recipe all the same and just cook them longer, but it’s definitely more painless just to soak them.
My mom also mentioned that since she usually serves the beans with rice and homemade guacamole, so she’ll often chop extra garlic, onion, and pepper and reserve it for the guacamole while she’s preparing the beans.
Here is the recipe as made by my mom:
- 8 oz dry black beans
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 large onion or 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, diced
- Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
- Any other seasonings, to taste (such as sazón or adobo seasoning)
Cover the dry beans with abundant water; let sit 12-24 hrs uncovered in the refrigerator.*
- In a medium pot (at least 3" sides), cook the onion in olive oil. After a minute or so, add the garlic and bell pepper and cook until soft and aromatic.
- Drain the beans and add to the pot, along with enough boiling water to cover everything by an inch. You may need to add more as they cook. (My mom keeps water warm in a tea kettle right next to it).
- Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer; and cook around an hour and a half, checking and stirring every half hour. If all the water is absorbed, add a little more. After about an hour or a bit more, the beans should fully soften and the onions and peppers begin to be absorbed into the sauce, but you can decide to cook them a little longer or a take them off earlier.
- When the beans are tender, season with salt and pepper (and anything else you want) after cooking.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge and enjoy for a week.
*without soaking, you can still cook the beans but they will have to simmer much longer
Jeremy is a student at Cornell University double majoring in Spanish and Italian with significant coursework in classes such as nutrition, food science and culinary science. He has years of experience as a home cook, working at a local bakery, and teaching cooking classes at Williams-Sonoma. After starting a TikTok account in March 2020 while quarantined in his childhood home, Jeremy’s presence grew to over 1.5 million followers in the first 6 months. During that time, he was featured in People Magazine, Fox News, BBC Radio, BuzzFeed, Tasty, Spoon University, and USA Today, among other media outlets.