Baked Brazilian Black Beans
About 1 hour with cooked beans, largely unattended
A party dish that you can make in large quantities ahead of time and will taste even better the next day. Serve with lots of rice, warm tortillas, and some Spicy No-Mayo Coleslaw (get the recipe here).
Other beans you can use: dried black-eyed peas, pinto, kidney, or any medium-size heirloom bean like appaloosa or anasazi.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
About 2 tablespoons minced fresh chile (like jalapeño or Thai), or red chile flakes or cayenne
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes (about 12 ounces; canned are fine; don’t drain)
1 large yellow-black plantain or ripe banana, peeled and cut into chunks
3 cups cooked or canned black beans, drained but still moist
1 cup bean-cooking liquid or water
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper
1. Heat the oven to 350°F. Put the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chile and ginger and cook for another minute, stirring.
2. Transfer the onion mixture, along with the tomatoes and plantain, to a food processor or blender and purée.
3. Combine the tomato mixture with the beans, bean- cooking liquid, and thyme in an ovenproof dish. Taste and add salt and pepper, then cover and bake until bub- bling, about 40 minutes. Serve hot. Or cool and store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Baked Curried Black Beans
Replace the thyme with a couple of fresh or dried curry leaves, adding them with the chile in Step 1. Add 1 tablespoon curry powder before baking in Step 3.
Smoky Baked Black Beans
Subtly smoky and deli- cious: Substitute garlic for the ginger, using more if you like. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons smoked Spanish paprika (pimentón) and 1/2 cup cubed smoked tofu before baking in Step 3.
Brazilian Black Beans and Rice
Simple and more substantial: Stir in 11/2 cups long-grain rice and 1 cup vegetable stock or water in Step 3; bake until the rice is tender, which will take about the same amount of time.