Recipes: Two Secrets to Quick and Easy Mexican Black Bean Dishes

Black Bean Tostadas

Makes 4 servings

Tostadas are the ultimate comfort food for Mely Martinez, food blogger and author of Mexican home cooking. She prefers to cook with dried beans, but canned beans and store-bought tostadas (flat-fried corn tortillas) make this recipe easy to combine. Martinez prepares his beans simply, with no added spices, but we like them spiced up with ground cumin. Either way, tostadas provide a delicious contrast between crunch and creaminess, with the savory notes of fresco queso, the freshness of lettuce, and the creaminess of Mexican crema (or sour cream).

Be sure to cover the pan when sautéing the onion and chiles; this helps soften the aromatics so they blend into the grains, rather than retaining their texture.

2 cans 15 ½ oz black beans, rinsed and drained

3 tablespoons lard or neutral oil

1 medium white onion, finely chopped

3 jalapeño peppers, stemmed, seeded and minced

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

1 tablespoon ground cumin

8 tostadas (see main note)

Shredded iceberg lettuce, to serve

Queso fresco, crumbled, to serve

Mexican cream or sour cream, for serving

Cilantro, to serve

Lime wedges, for serving

In a food processor, blend the beans and ½ cup water until smooth, scraping down the bowl as needed. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat, heat lard until simmering. Add onion, jalapeños and ½ tsp salt; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned, 7 to 9 minutes.

Add cumin and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add mashed beans and cook, stirring, until mixture is hot and begins to sizzle, about 3 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, then taste and season with salt and pepper.

Spoon bean mixture over each tostada. Top with lettuce and queso fresco, then pour in cream and sprinkle with cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.

Black bean stew with chorizo ​​and roasted tomatoesConnie Miller/of CB Creatives

Black bean stew with chorizo ​​and roasted tomatoes

Makes 4-6 servings

Made with canned beans, this chili stew can be on the table in about 30 minutes. Poblano peppers add an earthy green chili flavor, but they are not very hot; if you’re looking for spice, include a chopped jalapeño or two when sautéing the poblano and onion.

Serve with hot cornbread or tortillas.

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 poblano peppers, stemmed, seeded and chopped

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

12 ounces fresh Mexican chorizo ​​sausage, casing removed

1 can (28 ounces) diced fire roasted tomatoes

2 cans 15 ½ oz black beans, rinsed and drained

1 bunch cilantro, chopped (leaves and tender stems)

Grated Monterey jack cheese, pickled jalapeños and/or chopped red onion (optional, for garnish)

In a large saucepan, heat the oil until it simmers. Add the chiles, onion and 1 teaspoon salt, then cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent. Add the chorizo ​​and cook, breaking it up into small pieces, until lightly browned. Add the tomatoes with their juice, beans and most of the cilantro, reserving some for garnish; bring to a boil. Cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with reserved cilantro and cheese, jalapeños and/or onions, if using.

Oaxacan Refried Black BeansConnie Miller/of CB Creatives

Oaxacan Refried Black Beans

Makes 6 servings

Rodolfo Castellanos, native of Oaxaca and winner of Top Chef Mexico, and his mother, restaurateur Evelia Reyes. Lard gives these beans a rich flesh, but coconut oil is a good vegetarian substitute. We love this garnished with cotija and fresh cilantro.

Beans should not be soaked before cooking. Unlike other types of dried beans, black beans soften easily without soaking. And be sure to reserve the bean cooking liquid; you’ll need 2 cups to puree them in the food processor (if you’re making black bean soup, you’ll need 3 cups to thin out the beans). The liquid is also useful for thinning out the kernels when reheating (they thicken when standing).

Beans can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a week.

4 tablespoons lard or refined coconut oil, divided

1 large white onion, chopped

1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes

5 guajillo peppers, stemmed and seeded

1 pound dried black beans, rinsed

10 medium garlic cloves, peeled and kept whole, plus 5 medium garlic cloves, minced

3 bay leaves

1 teaspoon of anise

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

4 teaspoons ground cumin

4 teaspoons ground coriander

1 tbsp ancho chili powder

1 teaspoon dried oregano

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon lard until just smoking. Add onion, tomatoes and guajillo peppers, then cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the beans, whole garlic cloves, bay leaf and anise, then stir in 10 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then partially cover and reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are completely tender, 1½ to 2 hours.

Stir in 1 teaspoon of salt. Place a colander in a large bowl and drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid. Remove and discard the bay leaves from the beans. Transfer the drained beans to a food processor and pulse to break them up. With the machine running, add 1½ cups of the reserved cooking liquid and mix until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed. Taste and salt then set aside.

In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the remaining lard until shimmering. Add minced garlic, cumin, cilantro, chili powder and oregano, then cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in mashed beans and cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to brown on bottom, 8 to 10 minutes. Continue to cook and stir, adding reserved pasta water as needed, until the mixture is the consistency of mashed potatoes, 5 to 7 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the remaining tablespoon of lard, then taste and season with salt and pepper.

Christopher Kimball is the founder of Milk Street, home to a magazine, school, and radio and television broadcasts. Globe readers get 12 weeks of full digital access, plus two issues of the print magazine Milk Street, for just $1. Go to Send your comments to [email protected]

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