Favorite Black Beans

We make these saucy beans nearly once a week—on nights when time’s in short supply, but we crave something that tastes fresh and homemade. There’s not much to prepare, but you might slice a sweet tomato, grate a carrot or cube an avocado while the beans cook.  If you have the energy, sauté some vegetables to serve on top—corn, broccoli, carrots, greens—whatever you find in the fridge.

By the way, this is the perfect meal for kids to prepare on their own—as an after-school snack or supper for the whole family.

Serves 4 to 5


  • Olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
  • 3/4 cup tomato salsa (bottled or fresh)
  • 2 cans black beans, rinsed well and drained
  • tiniest pinch of ground cinnamon
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves (plus more for serving)
  • Tortillas
  • Any of the following for serving:  chopped cilantro, grated carrot, sour cream, crumbled queso fresco or Monterey Jack cheese, diced tomato, pepper or onion.


  1. Heat a small amount of oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and cumin seeds and cook until onions are soft and have begun to brown, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic if using and cook for another minute or two.  Add salsa to the pan and cook for several minutes until the liquid cooks off a bit and any chunks of tomato have broken down.
  2. Add beans to the pan plus 3/4 cup water, cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Lower heat to a gentle simmer and cook until the liquid, tomato and onion reduce down to create a thick brown sauce, bathing the beans, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add cilantro and cook for a few more minutes.
  3. Warm tortillas on a piping hot griddle until they’re marked with crisp brown spots.  Serve with a spoonful of beans dressed with favorite toppings (see list above) and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
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