Black Beans

Black beans, or turtle beans as they are also known, are a staple from Cuba to Mexico and down into South America. Black beans are full of iron and really easy to cook.  I have been able to find the raw ones in health food stores here on the peninsula.  I have also found organic tinned ones at the IGA. Black beans are very versatile - lovely in a burrito, as a dip with chips and salsa, as the bean in chili con carne and just with a side of saffron rice- and they freeze well, too!  Because I soak the raw beans with vegetables and spices, they have more flavour.  I also add a piece of seaweed adding nutrients to this already nutritious protein.  If you prefer to use tinned ones, skip to #5

Ingredients
2 cups uncooked black beans (or use 2 tins of precooked)
2 medium to large red onions
1-2 capsicums - green or coloured depending on your preference
8 large garlic cloves
1 chili pepper
6 bay leaves
Olive oil for frying the onions, peppers and garlic
1 large tablespoon tomato paste
3-5 medium size tomatoes
1 tbsp cumin seeds toasted and then ground
zest from one lime
coriander leaves and stems
Salt and Pepper to taste

Method
1.  SOAKING OF THE BEANS Clean and rinse the beans several times looking for any little pebbles. Place in a stock pot with 1 onion cut into quarters, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, 4 peeled garlic cloves, 3 bay leaves, large piece of Kombu seaweed.
2.  Fill the pot with water about 1 inch above the bean line, cover and soak overnight for at least 12 hours….
3. In the morning,  check the bean water line- water has been absorbed, add more, at least 1-inch above the bean line.  Bring to a high boil for about 5minutes, stir and reduce to low heat.
4.  Cook uncovered for about 1 1/2 hours.  Stir and keep checking water line and bean tenderness.  You want a bean that is tender, not mushy. You can take veggies out and puree them with the bean water and add it back in if you want a wetter bean.  For burritos, I like to drain the beans in a colander.
5. Meanwhile in a large fry pan, heat oil.  Add 3 bay leaves, 4 garlic cloves pressed, 1 large onion finely diced, 1 capsicum finely diced, chilies finely diced (optional).  Continually stir until onion is translucent.
6.  Toast cumin seeds until they start jumping and brown slightly.  Grind in a mortar and pestle.
7.  Add cumin and tomato paste to the frying pan.  Then cut your tomatoes in half vertically and grate them into the frying pan too.  After a few minutes, add the beans.
8. Taste and adjust seasoning adding salt, pepper, lime juice, tomato paste.  The cumin should not be over powering.
9.  Just before serving top with minced coriander and the zest from one lime.

For Burritos
1. Take a tortilla.  layer black beans, avocado, salsa, rice, grated cheese and a bit of mixed lettuce and roll.
2. You can add a side of sour cream and/or make the avocado into guacamole!