There are black beans, and then there are black beans cooked with orange juice. If you haven’t tried squeezing some in, trust me, it’s a revelation – a Caribbean take that is especially appealing now that we’re deep in winter’s chill.
The first time I tried the technique at home was when following a recipe from the great J. Kenji López-Alt, the food-science guru at Serious Eats and author of The Food Lab. Ever since I first threw two orange halves into the pressure cooker when I made black beans from dried, and loved the touch of sweet-tartness from the citrus, I’ve made them that way every few weeks since.
Jack Bishop from America’s Test Kitchen used an even quicker version of the same technique in his 2004 book, A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen (Houghton Mifflin). He published the book many years before I became vegetarian, but I’ve come to consider it a classic for its smart, easy and satisfying recipes, and this dish is no different. You enliven canned black beans with chopped jalapeño, garlic and 2/3 cup of fresh orange juice (plus a touch of lime juice). The beans absorb much of the juices within five or so minutes.
His crowning touch is ripe plantains, sauteed until deeply browned. They’re another point of sweetness, and along with the orange they put me in a tropical state of mind.
Caribbean Black Beans with Sauteed PlantainsServings: 4
Use only the ripest, black or mostly black plantains, which are softer and sweeter than the unripe, starchy, green or medium-ripe yellow ones.Serve with rice, if desired.Ingredients:
2 large ripe plantains (mostly or all black)3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more as needed4 cloves garlic, minced1 small jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely choppedTwo 15-ounce cans no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained2/3 cup fresh orange juice2 tablespoons fresh lime juice2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro leavesMethod:Trim the pointed ends from the plantains. Cut the fruit into 2-inch chunks. Use a paring knife to slit the peels lengthwise in several places on each piece. Carefully remove the peels and discard them. Cut each plantain chunk in half lengthwise.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the plantains – working in batches as needed to avoid overcrowding the pan. Cook, turning once, until quite browned but not burned, about 8 minutes. Transfer the plantains to a plate and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon of the salt. Cover to keep warm.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, the garlic and the jalapeño to the empty skillet. Cook (medium heat), stirring constantly, just until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add the beans, orange juice and lime juice and cook, stirring often, until the beans are heated through and have absorbed most of the juices, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Taste, and add more salt, as needed.
Spoon the beans into individual bowls or plates. Top each portion with sauteed plantains and serve.
Nutrition: Per serving: 380 calories, 13 g protein, 58 g carbohydrates, 13 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 300 mg sodium, 12 g dietary fiber, 14 g sugar
Source: Adapted from A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen: Easy Seasonal Dishes for Family and Friends, by Jack Bishop (Houghton Mifflin, 2004).