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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Stewed Black Beans & Tostones

Good Morning & Evening, My Dearies. My mother is here visiting the subtropical hollow, so I might be delayed in posting for the next few days. I did, however, want to quickly share this plate of tropical deliciousness with you.

On that note, I know what many of you are thinking about posting stewed black beans. Well, maybe I don't, but I do know that I have often wondered why people make such a big deal out of black beans and rice. This is because I usually eat this dish in restaurants, and, well, it's just never very good. The usual for this dish in the subtropical hollow is a plate of bland, overcooked beans next to a bed of oil laden, low grade rice with the usual accompaniments that most often share the aforementioned adjectives. This may not be the case in places like Miami, but around here it's the standard.

Yesterday, I decided to make this dish ONLY because my mother recently bought me a large container of dry, organic black beans. The result made me realize how this dish came to its culinary rise and popularity: Tasty, texturally firm & delicious stewed beans next to a bed of fragrant, buttery basmati (not traditional, but wonderful) with salsa, mango chutney, fresh cucumber, and, of course, tostones!

Tostones, fried green plantains, are a culinary wonderment that never fail to make me wonder why I don't make them more often. These salty morsels dipped in the black beans with some salsa is an experience I can't explain: they are just awesome! I hope you will buy a bunch of green to greenish-yellow plantains and try them even if you don't bother with other parts of this dish-yes, they are that good!

This recipe is my version of Cuban black beans. It certainly is not authentic, but it is a super delicious vegetarian take off of this classic and wonderful Cuban dish.

Stewed Black Beans*
1 lb. Black beans soaked in water over night
6-7 Cups water
1 Onion-cut in half (do not cut off the ends or it will fall apart)
1/2 Green bell pepper (whole, seeds removed)
4-5 Cloves garlic-sliced in half
2 Bay Leaves
2 Tsp. Cumin
3/4 Tsp. oregano
2 Pinches of red/cayenne pepper
2-4 Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar or to taste
Salt & black pepper to taste

Drain the soaked black beans. Place the beans, water, onion halves, bell pepper half, garlic, and bay leaves in a pot. Bring to a boil and leave at a high boil for 7-10 minutes stirring intermittently. Once done, skim off any foam, lower the heat to low, and place the top on at an angle. Cook on low heat stirring intermittently for one to two hours or until beans are firm yet soft (you may need to add extra water). In the last ten minutes of cooking, add the cumin, oregano, cayenne, salt, pepper and vinegar. Enjoy! Serves 6-8.

For tostones, cut green or greenish yellow plantains into 1 inch pieces as shown below. Pan fry on medium heat in oil till each cut end is golden. Take off the heat and mash the plantains into discs (you may want to remove the pan from heat during this time to avoid oil burn). Return to the discs to the heat and saute each side for 2-3 minutes or till golden. Remove and place on a napkin. Salt! Enjoy!

Enjoy with rice, salsa, cheese, cilantro, hot chilis, etc...

Oh, and spicy mango relish is also good with this dish!

P.S.-Never place salt in beans that are stewing till cooking is almost done, Dearies-this destroys the outer shell creating mush!


  1. Tostones, black beans, and rice...my childhood on a plate. Fantastic vegeterian take. I agree even down here in the MIA, restaurants don't seem to take the time to do it right. Doesn't make any sense. When you go to a Cuban restaurant the beans should be great...they are not most of the time. Cheers!

  2. Those tostones look great! I've made fried plantains before, but those look so much cooler!

  3. Dear Stella - You probably know what a big fan I am of black beans (if you say my post on Mark Miller's black beans) and yours looks WONDERFUL!

    Those tostones look scrumptious. I have never had these except in a restaurant and theirs never looked like yours! Your meal is plate of love and comfort and I know your Mum would have loved it. With the spicy Mango relish the meal is a palimpsest of flavors :)

    Always a pleasure to see what you cook up in that cauldron!

    Ciao, Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  4. Hi Stella, I'm not a huge fan of black beans for the exact reason you pointed out, They are usually too dry. But you make a strong case for them with this post. I've never heard of tostones before, but anything fried sounds great to me!!
    Please say hello to you mom! :)

  5. I don't remember having black beans when I was growing up. My parents weren't really into beans except for chickpeas.

    This dish is sortof new to me since I'm not really familiar with Cuban cuisine.

    Have a great time with your mom!

  6. Tostones are completely new to me! thanks for sharing.

  7. You know what, I have LOADS of dry black beans, so I see no reason why I shouldn't try this out sometime. :) I've never had plantains before.. They look delicious!

    And to answer your question, it's not rude; it's actually flattering! I am 16, and I'm 17 in 6 months minus a day (yeah, I still haven't grown out of keeping track of how long it is 'til my birthday ;) ). I do have a knack for writing; I've been hearing that since 2nd grade. My dad was an English major and a journalist so I guess it's genetic? It's actually why I'm so happy I made my blog... it's where my two talents combine. :D

    Have a great day!

  8. Hi Stella
    once again you come up with a winner...I grew up on pinto beans, and never acquired a real taste for black beans, when I did make them for my workers at the restaurant, I always spiced them up pretty good, It sounds like you did the same! I have never made the plantains, they look soooooo good....I will have to try them.
    Your photo's are incredible, I just started using my good camera ( I use to be a fashion photographer), but this is my first time shooting food....when I tell it to turn a little it doesnt respond ( well it did once but that was after 3 margaritas) My only secret when they dont turn out quite right is photoshop...it helps with the lighting and colours....
    Have a happy day....Its pouring here!

  9. Stewed black beans are one of my favorites. Is that weird? Any tropical food is up my alley. And anything you make :)

  10. Love this dish! Black beans are my favorite beans and with the tostones! Yum! Heaven!
    Stella if you want to make my spaghetti cake I can help you with any concerns; it is actually really easy to make!
    We can hook up on Facebook if you want. Ciao!

  11. I agree, Stella, plantains ARE that good! We adore them in my house!
    I've never done much with black beans, but this recipe looks fabulous. Such lovely photos!

  12. I've been looking for an awesome black bean recipe, and I think this one is it! Three out of four in our family love black beans, but using dry beans has so far stymied me. Thanks for the recipe! Oh, and great food photos!

  13. I'm so glad your Mom is visiting you. As you know from my blog I visit my parents OFTEN but that's because I'm lucky to live in the same city as them. Definitely take as much time as you need off your blog to spend some lovely bonding time with your Mom. We'll all be here waiting when you get back.

    I've never had stewed black beans before. we usually stir fry black beans with bitter melon (which my hubby hates) and shrimp. I'll share that recipe someday on my bloggie once i've perfected it ;-) Your dish sounds delicious! Tostones (I never knew that's what they were called) with black beans, salsa, CHEESE, cilantro, hot chilis, and spicy mango relish sounds like the perfect harmony of ingredients. Nothing too overpowering to throw off the dish. And look at the beautiful presentation. Who would've thought that black would be such a lovely colour. Is that something I shouldn't say to a witch? ;-) What I really mean is, you sure know how to brew up some beautiful dishes by bringing out the best in everything Stella. Thank you for sharing again. Have a wonderful time with your Mom!

  14. What a beautiful dish, I was myself thinking about making some sort of beans, and your dish looks absolutely gorgeous! Love this!

  15. I've never had black beans and rice, or plantains. It has never appealed, but I would definitely try it.

  16. Wow Stella, what a nice meal...love the combination of the all...yummie :-)

  17. What a great looking meal. So healthy, and delicious I'm sure. I love plantains so much and this looks like a great way to cook them.

  18. Hi Stella,
    hope you're having a good time with your mum visiting.
    Honestly, I've never had black bean and rice, or tostones for that matter. But these look so rad. So gorgeous. Huge fan of beans, so why not black ones??? Wonder after attempting this if I should order it at a restaurant to compare???

  19. What a fantastic platter! Those tostones look terrific!

  20. What a beautiful dish! The only way I know how to cook black beans is to make soup with it. My mom said it's very nutritious and very good for nursing mothers.

  21. Beautiful, Stella! I want to take a swim in that murky pool
    of black beans. I really do love black beans, rice and plantains; such classic Latin flavors! It's been a while since I've done tostones, maybeb its time!

    Have fun with your mom!

  22. That bean recipe is JUST what I needed. I cook quite a lot of pinto and black beans for my husband (who is a beaner) but this recipe looks so much more flavoursome that the sort we usually have.
    I can't think of a better thing to eat with them than tostones. Bring on the Cuban! !

  23. Fab meal. Healthy and delicious. I must try something like this as I'm always on the hunt for delicious vegetarian recipes. Cheers.

  24. Homemade is just always better than restaurant (well most of the time)! This dish looks delicious. I am a plantain freak so I would love this. Also...I'm really liking how colorful your dish is. Eat the rainbow.

    Have fun with your mom!

  25. My son's girlfriend's mother (are you following this) makes tostones. He's been begging me to make them. So here goes. You've made this diash look easy and yummy. I'll let you know how it goes.
    Have fun with Mom.

  26. I love your blog, it's very cool. We love beans at our house any kind, these look great and plantains are very tasty. great job


  27. Hello Dear Stella,

    Such a long time...I'm finally back home!
    As for your dish... Wowww !!!!! It's so colourful, and looks mouth-watering, plus it reminds me of my vacations in Brazil as a young girl...I'm gonna make it thinking that I will then be in gorgeous shape like the girls from Ipanema ( whishful thinking!)
    A breeze of warm air for chilly Paris !!! Enjoy your time with your mother !

  28. I love tostones. I have yet to make them myself, however. I've been lucky enough to have friends who will happily do all the work and I don't mind letting them!

  29. Tthis is a meal that I could throughly enjoy. And served up with tostone stoo-delicious!!! I grew-up in Miami and I love my black beans (definitely not bland at my house) and ripe plantains or not so ripe (tostones) is a great healthy, flavorful meal.

  30. I agree with other commenters - your mother should visit more often...if it inspires you to make meals like this. What a beautiful looking dinner. Does she know what a great daughter she has???

  31. Hi Stella and Stella's Mum :) Hope you both are having a great time!

    Stella those tostones look incredible! I've had fried plantain before but they never looked that good for sure!

    You present a beautiful plate and the photos are amazing - so full of colour and life! Somehow looking at the food you make, I always seem to forget that it's mostly vegan! Just beautiful :)

  32. I love Cuban food, and this is about as authentic as it gets! This is such an exciting platter, love the colors, and especially love the plaintains!

  33. What a delicious meal! Those tostones are talking to me. Can you tell I am hungry?

  34. I've never had tostones. I never would have guess they're fried plantains... I thought they were some kind of bread. Plantains are much more interesting! I will have to try this on the weekend, they always have plantains at our local grocery store and they sound so easy.

  35. It looks delicious, remind me of my mother's food, the only difference is she cook the beans with bacon. Yeshhhh, the evil but oh so delicious bacon. I hope you are not a vegetarian, if you are...... Opssy! :-)

  36. I do love the black beans and your tostones are absolutely beautiful!

  37. My mouth is watering...looks scrumptious!

  38. Hi Stella, I've made tostones twice since you've posted this! The plaintain was pretty green for the first batch, so I let the other ripen (maybe a little too much), but they were sooo good with the more ripe plaintain. They cooked a lot faster too.

  39. In Antioquia Colombia, we says Patacón to toston

    Great recipe, it is similar to "Bandeja Paisa"(Paisa Platter) another bond that unites us.

    I love this blog!!!

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