Seasonal Flavors: Cuban Black Beans


I’ve wanted to go to Cuba for years. I’m a great admirer of the spirited Cuban people who have suffered great hardship during the U.S. embargo and despite this have one of the highest literacy rates and child immunization rates in the western hemisphere. During the ‘troubles’ of the early 1960s, many Cubans moved to the United States, especially Florida, bringing their distinctive cuisine with them. One of my favorite dishes is Cuban black beans (my second favorite is Cuba Libre!—rum and coke). Commemorate the restoration of diplomatic relations with our southern neighbors with this delicious spiced bean recipe. The Pope went to Cuba, so let’s got there, too, in a culinary way.

Cuban Black Beans

  • 1 pound dry black beans—the very best way to cook them is to put them into your crockpot the night before, cover with plenty of water, add a half teaspoon of baking soda and set the crockpot to low heat. The next day, your beans will be perfect and you will have saved the expense of the canned version.
  • 1 medium green pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  •  1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • Ground black pepper to taste

In a large skillet, heat the oil. Add green peppers and sauté for about five minutes, then add the onion and sauté for ten minutes. Add the garlic and cumin and cook for about half a minute. Drain the beans, reserving the liquid and add to the skillet. Then add about a cup of the reserved liquid. Add the salt and pepper.

Cook for thirty minutes or more and then serve with rice and more chopped onions.


  1. Pre-soaking and baking soda makes no sense – will sap the beans of all flavor. Do not pre-soak – this just loses flavor. Just throw into pot when you are ready to cook – and cook a bit longer – until done.

  2. Thank you for this comment and clarification. I did not mean that the beans should be pre-soaked. I intended to mean that they can be cooked overnight in the slow-cooker so that they are ready for dinner the next day. The small amount of baking soda will speed the cooking, but cooking longer without the baking soda will also work.


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