Nigella's Cuban Black Beans recipe

Nigella's Cuban Black Beans, garlic yoghurt and quesadillas

I’ve cooked Nigella's Cuban Black Beans many, many times since the book came out in 2015 because as well as tasting wonderful, they're easy to make and incredibly versatile. Chop a couple of onions, peppers and some garlic; the rest is just assembly. What you do need to do, however, is give these beans time. Either a couple of hours in a low oven or longer in a slow cooker. As a bonus, this is one of the few recipes I’ve come across where the dried beans don’t need to be pre-soaked. One small addition I've included is a tablespoon of chipotle paste. It gives the beans more depth and interest; I usually add at least two tablespoons but this does make them quite spicy so maybe start with a tablespoon.

Although these beans are a great side dish for any Mexican cuisine, I tend to make them as the main event. They make work lunches a treat when paired with rice and yoghurt and of the many meals I take to work and reheat, these beans attract the most compliments. One colleague swears they smell just like Dominos BBQ pizza but I wouldn’t know as I’m more of a Papa John’s woman.

My last batch of beans went into quesadillas along with cheddar cheese and some caramelised garlic yoghurt on the side; it was an absolute joy of a dinner. The garlic yoghurt is also from Simply Nigella and I’ve recently developed a mild obsession with it*. 

For years I cooked these beans in the oven as I don’t own a slow cooker but a few weeks ago a colleague kindly lent one to me. To be honest, the beans taste similar to me regardless of how they’ve been cooked as I let them cool first before reheating them, which thickens and intensifies the sauce. When I’ve made the beans in a saucepan that goes in the oven I’ve browned the onions a little before adding the other ingredients. For the slow cooker method the raw ingredients go straight in - the recipe doesn’t mention any browning. After seven hours in the slow cooker I swear I could still taste the tang of raw onion. It wasn’t strong but it was there (a blob of ketchup helped a little). Once the beans cooled and were reheated they tasted like their normal selves but I would definitely recommend browning the onions first, regardless of how you cook them.

*To make garlic yoghurt, slice the top off a bulb of garlic (taking the very tips off the cloves and keeping the base intact) then wrap in foil and bake for around 40 minutes in a 200°C (180°C fan) oven (adjust the cooking time to suit the temperature of whatever you’re cooking; you don’t need to be precise). Like Nigella, I don’t turn on my oven just for the purpose of roasting garlic but if I’m cooking something else I’ll often throw in a bulb at the same time. Once the cloves have caramelised to a dark bronze colour, the whole bulb goes into the fridge where it keeps for a week and the squidgy cloves can be added to soups, stews, or, my favourite by quite some way, Greek yoghurt. 400g of Greek yoghurt, a teaspoon of sea salt flakes and 5-6 roasted garlic cloves amounts to a beautiful sauce that reminds me of the yoghurt you get in a really good kebab shop. 

Ingredients

Serves: 6

  • 2 onions, chopped (any colour)
  • 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 peppers, diced (any colour)
  • 500g dried black turtle beans
  • 1 fresh red chilli, chopped
  • 2 tbs cumin seeds
  • 1 tbs chipotle paste (More if you like spice)
  • Black pepper
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 1 litre water
  • salt

Method

  1. Slow cooker: Brown 2 chopped onions in a pan for around 5-10 minutes then add to a slow cooker along with 6 chopped cloves of garlic, 2 diced peppers, 500g dried black beans, a chopped red chilli, 2 tablespoons of cumin seeds, a tablespoon of chipotle paste, a pinch of black pepper, 2 fresh bay leaves and a litre of water.
  2. Cook for 6-8 hours until the beans are soft then add salt to taste.
  3. Leave to stand for half an hour or, if you can, allow to cool then reheat to eat. 

 

  1. Oven: Preheat your oven to 150°C (130°C fan).
  2. Brown 2 chopped onions and 6 chopped cloves of garlic for around 5-10 minutes in a lidded saucepan that will fit into your oven. Add 2 diced peppers, 500g dried black beans, a chopped red chilli, 2 tablespoons of cumin seeds, a tablespoon of chipotle paste, a pinch of black pepper and 2 fresh bay leaves to the pan. Add enough water to cover the ingredients by 3cm then clamp the lid on the pan and place in the oven for 2 hours.
  3. If you can, check on the beans half way through, giving them a stir and adding more water if the level has fallen below the beans, but you can just leave them to cook and they should be fine.
  4. When the beans are cooked, salt to taste then leave to stand for half an hour or, if you can, allow to cool then reheat to eat. 

All written material and photography used on this website are copyright © Hot Cooking 2020.

Hot Cooking is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.co.uk.