Cuban Black Beans


The secret to these meatless Cuban-style black beans is to cook them at least a day in advance to allow the garlicky flavors to develop.

12 cups

Alex Garcia, chef/owner of Erizo Latino restaurant in New York City, shared this recipe that comes from his grandmother. Instead of pre-soaking the beans, start with unsoaked dried black beans and cook them with aromatics until tender. Then, make a sofrito, an aromatic flavor base, with red, yellow, and green bell peppers, white onion, spices like cumin, and oregano, and cook it with tomato paste until the vegetables are meltingly tender. Infuse olive oil with a generous amount of garlic, then add the garlicky oil and sofrito to the black beans. It will give the pot of black beans a deeply savory essence. Our soaking moment happens at the end of the cooking process. Let the mixture “sleep” overnight so all these delicious flavors meld together. 

If you like, you can finish the beans with a pinch of sugar and a drizzle of vinegar, for balance. Eat them as-is, or use them as a side dish or as part of a salad, breakfast burrito, or tostada. 


  • 1 pound dried black beans, picked over and rinsed

  • 1 green bell pepper, quartered lengthwise

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 red, 1 green and 1 yellow pepper, minced

  • 1 large white onion, minced

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin

  • 1 tablespoon oregano

  • 1/2 cup minced garlic

  • 1/4 cup tomato paste

  • Salt


  1. Put the black beans, quartered green pepper and bay leaves in a large saucepan add 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Reduce the heat to low, partially cover the saucepan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, about 2 1/2 hours. Remove and discard the green pieces and bay leaves.

  2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the minced bell peppers and onion and cook over moderate heat until softened. Stir in the cumin and oregano. In a small saucepan, cook the garlic in the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil over moderately low heat until golden brown.

  3. When the beans are tender, add the sautéed pepper mixture, the garlic in its oil and the tomato paste. Season with salt and simmer gently for 5 minutes to blend the flavors. Cover and refrigerate overnight or for up to 3 days. Reheat gently before serving.

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