One of the keys to cooking is finding a recipe you like and making it your own. That’s how I came up with these cumin black beans.
Years and years ago, I found a recipe for black beans with lime and chili powder. I made the beans so many times after that, I stopped measuring out ingredients. I started doing everything by instinct, which I think is the hallmark of good home cooking. If you do something enough times, it becomes second nature. Once you have enough confidence, you can start relying less on a recipe and experiment.
I was tired last night (this rainy, dreary weather takes a lot out of me) so I almost didn’t make this dinner bowl. Then I decided to muster the energy. The recipe involves a few moving parts, but honestly, it’s pretty easy. Once you get over the hurdle of just wanting to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dinner, it comes together quickly.
Some people like their beans on the mushier side (for lack of a better word). I’m thinking of the black beans you get as a side at a lot of fast-food Mexican restaurants. I like mine to be more defined. This means adding more lime juice when I’m cooking them and stirring them less. Beans are fragile beings, despite their hearty flavor. I try to mess with them as a little as possible to get an optimal texture.
I wanted to use up some brown basmati rice so that became the base of this bowl. Feel free to use any kind of rice or grain, though. Quinoa would be a great addition, as would barley or another hearty grain.
I don’t know about you but I am READY for spring. This bowl is bright enough to make me forget that it’s winter for a while, and it’s warming enough to comfort me on a rainy, cold winter’s night. It’s easy and reassuring, two of my favorite qualities in a recipe.
Here’s a song to play while you’re cooking beans, or anytime, really. It’s a remix of one of my favorite songs. Whenever I hear it, it reminds me of L.A. because I listened to it when I was walking around the city last fall.
Cumin Black Bean Bowl with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Avocado
1 large sweet potato, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup brown basmati rice, cooked
1 avocado, sliced
juice of 2 limes
1 can of no-salt-added black beans, rinsed
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
flaky sea salt and ground black pepper for seasoning
3 Tbsp sunflower oil, divided
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Toss the sweet potato cubes with 1 Tbsp sunflower oil and a couple pinches of flaky sea salt and ground black pepper. Spread out on the lined baking sheet, making sure that none of the cubes are on top of one another. Put the baking sheet in the oven and roasted the potatoes for about 45 minutes, flipping the cubes with a spatula occasionally and rotating the sheet so they cook evenly. They’re done when the pieces are golden brown and slightly charred.
Meanwhile, make the cumin black beans. Add 2 Tbsp oil to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once the oil is warmed up, add the diced red onion. Cook until the onion is slightly browned and translucent, about four minutes. Reduce heat if the onion cooks too quickly. Add the beans, ground cumin, a pinch of sea salt and ground black pepper, and juice of half a lime. Stir and let the mixture come to a simmer. Cook, adding the juice of another half a lime and stirring every so often, for about 10 minutes.
When the sweet potato cubes are done cooking, let them cool slightly. Sprinkle on more sea salt and squeeze juice from another half a lime on top.
Place some rice in a bowl and put some sweet potato cubes, black beans, and avocado on top. Sprinkle with more sea salt and another squeeze of lime. Enjoy!