January 15, 2014

Savory Black Beans and Rice Topped with Sour Cream and Fresh Pico

Savory Black Beans and Rice Topped with Sour Cream and Fresh Pico

Black Beans: Uncommonly Common

What’s more common and seemingly mundane than beans and rice? New Orleans – and all of south Louisiana – is known for Red Beans & Rice, especially on Mondays! White Beans & Rice is another classic south Louisiana staple.

But among beans, black beans stick out. At least around here. They are kinda… exotic. And they are often associated with Latin and Caribbean dishes more than Cajun or Creole.

The Importance of Soaking Dry Beans Overnight

With all the dry beans that I cook (except lentils), I soak the beans overnight. It’s the same with black beans. Soaking overnight can dramatically reduce the cook time. Instead of boiling the beans for 3 to 4 hours to get them to the proper softness, you only have to simmer them for an hour or two… if they were soaked first.

In addition to cutting down on the cook time, soaking the beans also cuts down on the flatulence. Yes, you heard read it right here, folks, on The Catholic Foodie. Soaking your beans cuts down on the gas!


Because soaking the beans overnight, and then draining off the soaking liquid and rinsing the beans before adding fresh water for cooking, removes some of the poly-oligosaccharides (long carbohydrate molecules that cause flatulence).

Will it eliminate the potential for all gas? No. But every little bit helps, right?

HOWEVER, with black beans you do not want to drain off the soaking liquid. Why not? Because cooking black beans in the soaking liquid helps the beans to maintain their black color. True, you won’t get rid of the flatulence-causing poly-oligosaccharides, but, hey, presentation is important, right?

This recipe was the result of a happy accident, and we love it! The fresh pico de gallo and sour cream and freshness and depth to an otherwise “mundane” dish.

Give it a try!

Savory Black Beans and Rice Topped with Sour Cream and Fresh Pico


For the Beans

  • 1 lb dried black bean, picked through and washed (we prefer Camilia brand)
  • 1 medium sweet yellow onion, cut in half
  • 1 large sweet yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut in half, cored and seeded
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon of oil (coconut oil, olive oil) OR bacon grease
  • 1 bunch of green onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the Pico de Gallo

  • 1 small sweet yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 -5 ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 - 4 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt to taste


For the Beans

  1. In a large heavy pot – or a large glass mixing bowl – soak the beans overnight in cold water. Make sure the beans are covered by at least 3 inches of water.
  2. When ready to cook, add the halved onion, the garlic cloves, bay leaves, bell pepper, cumin and oregano to the pot. Remember to keep the soaking water! Bring the pot to a boil over high heat. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface.
  3. Reduce the heat, cover, and gently simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Add water as necessary to keep the beans covered. After an hour, remove the onion, the garlic, the bay leaves and the bell pepper with a slotted spoon and discard.
  4. In a heavy frying pan, heat oil or bacon grease over medium heat. Add the chopped onion, bell pepper and saute, stirring occasionally, until starting to brown. Add the minced garlic, stir, and saute for an additional minute. Add the contents of the frying pan to the black beans along with the red wine vinegar, the sugar, cayenne, and salt and black pepper. Cover and continue simmering the beans until soft, about another 20 minutes.
  5. Make rice according to package directions.
  6. Before serving, check the seasoning of the beans and make any necessary adjustments, adding salt, pepper, cayenne, cumin, oregano, or vinegar, if you see fit.
  7. Serve over rice in a bowl and top with a dollop of sour cream and fresh pico de gallo (see directions for the pico below).

For the Pico de Gallo

  1. Making pico de gallo is super-simple. Simply add all the ingredients to a glass mixing bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning (salt and lime juice) to taste.
  2. When chopping the jalapenos, you can reserve some of the seeds to add to the pico if you prefer a spicier pico.
  3. Pico is always better after sitting for a while, which gives all the flavors a chance to "marry." Feel free to cover the bowl and stick in the fridge for anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours.