Premium: Puerto Rican Red Bean Stew

Recipe by Katie Mae

Makes 4–6 servings | Ready in 25 minutes | Stores 1 week in the fridge

INGREDIENTS

1 medium onion, diced
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (optional)
1 medium bell pepper, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
½ tablespoon ground oregano
½ tablespoon smoked paprika
½ tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried cilantro
2 bay leaves
1 cup tomato sauce, no salt added
4 cups cooked small red beans (three 14oz cans, drained and rinsed)
1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
Fresh cilantro for garnish

ACTION STEPS

  1. In a large skillet or sauté pan over medium heat, add onion and jalapeno. Cover and sauté for a few minutes.
  2. Add the bell pepper, garlic, dried herbs, and spices. Sauté for a couple more minutes, until the onions are translucent.
  3. Stir in the tomato sauce, red beans, and vegetable broth. Bring to a simmer and then lower the heat to low-medium. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Serve warm with a sweet potato, whole grain, or your favorite vegetables. Top off with fresh cilantro.

CHEF’S NOTES

If you can’t find red beans, you can also use pink beans or kidney beans.

If you want a thick bean stew, keep it uncovered as you let it cook to let more moisture escape.

I always love to add fresh avocado to my beans, but this is an exceptionally good idea if you try out the Caribbean Hot Pepper Sauce. Fat pairs well with heat.

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THE STORY

Since beans are one of the best foods for health and longevity, along with other legumes, we should aim to get 2-3 servings of this power food every day.

Where people get stuck is when they feel like they have the same foods again and again. The trick to avoiding getting into a rut with your beans, you want to work in some different flavors. The easiest way to do this is to take some inspiration from world cuisines, where they tend to use a lot more herbs and spices then the pretty plain pinto beans served most Mexican restaurants in the US.

To help you out, we made up an oil-free, vegan version of Puerto Rican Red Beans, which are traditionally cooked in a sofrito (a sauce made of peppers, onions, and spices) and tomato sauce base. The red beans used are similar to kidney beans in flavor and appearance, but a little smaller. This bean is excellent in soups and chilis, as it holds its shape well.

Most often the red beans are served with rice. The combo is so filling and delicious with little fuss, that it’s no wonder it’s a staple in Puerto Rico and all throughout South, Central, and North America.

However, these red beans are super versatile and compliment many foods. You can make an extra-hearty meal by serving the beans aside a whole grain or starchy veggie.

Alternatively, you could reduce the calorie density of the meal by pairing it with steamed, sauteed, or grilled non-starchy veggies.

Personally, I love these beans served over a baked sweet potato. Actually, in Puerto Rico it’s common for them to added chopped potato to the beans as they’re cooking, so that’s an option, too.

For an extra boost of flavor, try a splash or two of my Caribbean Hot Pepper Sauce! Careful though… It’ll add a bit of tropical sweetness, and, depending on how many peppers you add, it can quickly kick up the heat!
 

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