Costa Rican Black Beans – Letter C on my challenge to cook a frugal bean dish from a country from every letter of the alphabet.
Now these are a triple whammy for me. they are my favourite bean to have in a lunchtime salad – my goal is to eat about a cup of beans per day as part of the Eat to Live plan. I also love them as gallo pinto for breakfast – used as a base for black bean soup or in a veggie taco too.
I’m not a fan of canned beans .. now that we as a family are stepping back on the salt we consume we simply find them too salty .. besides what I love are the gently aromatic black beans that I have eaten in Costa Rican restaurants before we decided to step back on the fat and salt and sugar. These of course would have been cooked with lard .. so that’s not going to happen!!
Instead – my version is no fat, no salt and full of taste .. thanks to some clever use of aromatics.
They are also easy peasy to cook – the beans are so small that you don’t need to be organised to put them on to soak the evening before ( I am not the only one that forgets to do that am I?) and as they only take 3 hours on high or 5 hours on low they are pretty flexible once you have turfed them into the slow cooker.
In fact they are so easy to do that you can pretty much make them as you need them .. but black beans are brilliant for freezing .. just turf a cup into a baggie and stash in the freezer till you need.
Much cheaper than buying tins .. and you get the authentic Costa Rican black beans flavour to boot!!
- 250 g black turtle beans
- 2 fat cloves of garlic
- 2 bay leaves
- Half and onion
- 1 tbsp salt optional
Rinse you black beans by popping into a sieve and running under plenty of running water from the tap.
Chop your onion – doesn’t need to be too fine as it cooks away to nothing anyway and its only there for the flavour. The other aromatics are two fat cloves of garlic and a couple of big bay leaves (Much underused herb .. but really great flavour so worth picking up a packet when you come across them)
Chuck everything into the slow cooker and pour over 600ml of water. Don’t add any salt at this point – just makes the skins go tough .. season after they are cooked – and after you have tasted as you may find that the beans are so tasty that you don’t need to reach for the salt shaker.
Lid on – set to Low .. and leave alone for 5 hours of so (3 hours is you do them on High)
Pop a couple of beans out to test them – they should be firm but tender .. so not crunchy but not mushy (I know, I know – I am fussy about my beans LOL)
If they are done to your taste – then adjust the seasoning by adding up to a tablespoon of salt. Add the salt and then turn off the slow cooker and leave to stand for 20 minutes to absorb the seasoning.
By then the beans should be cool enough to drain .. if you drain piping hot beans I find that the skins peel back as they cool and if I am going to all the bother of cooking my own beans I want them to look as pretty as possible. Let them cool in the liquor and then drain you don’t get the issue.
Beautiful Black Beans .. so good you could eat them straight from the bowl with a spoon .. but I decided to treat myself to a “Mexican style” salad for lunch instead.
So tasty – and so filling too!! Lots of greens – pico de gallo topped with black beans and corn with some avocado on the side.
The rest of the beans are tucked away in the fridge for the kids and I to share tomorrow … because these are one kind of beans that the kids really don’t mind eating.
Cheap – check – healthy – check and tasty .. check, check, check. Jobs a good one!!
So .. who is gong to be brave enough to try and cook around the world with me then? Twenty six frugal bean dishes .. and one family to enjoy them!