Friday, May 08, 2009

Black Bean Salsa

This "salsa" is actually what I typically just call my black beans, since I prepare them this way every time I boil up a batch o' dried black beans. I've moved to the dried version in the past few months as a small way to save on my weekly grocery bill. Here's the conversions between canned and dry:

15-oz can beans = 1 1/2 cooked beans, drained
1 pound dry beans = 6 cups cooked beans, drained
1 pound dry beans = 2 cups dry beans
1 cup dry beans = 3 cups cooked beans, drained

I know this involves math, but I readily admit that my frugality wins out over my hatred of basic math. Therefore, let's analyze this a bit. One can of black beans will run you about $0.89 at the grocery store, while a pound of dried black beans goes for about $1.69. Since you get the equivalent of 4 cans of beans out of a one pound bag, that would make the dried beans the equivalent of $0.42 per can. Not much, but it adds up.

Since I personally had no idea what to do with dried black beans, and hence resorted to purchasing the canned version, here's the scoop. You'll need at least two hours; 12 hours is preferable. To make 3 cups of cooked black beans, take 1 cup of dried black beans and spread them out in a shallow dish (a 9x13 pan works well here, or even a pie dish). Sort through them and remove any beans that appear to be shriveled or not bean-like (odd shape, discolored, etc.). Put them in a saucepan big enough to accommodate them and some water should they triple in size (which they will). Add enough water to cover them by two inches. If you have 8-12 hours, let them soak in the saucepan (overnight is fine - this is the longer "soak" period). If you only have two hours, bring the beans to a boil, turn them off, cover them, and let them sit for an hour (the "soak" period). After the beans have either soaked 8-12 hours or boiled and soaked an hour, drain them and add new water to again cover them by two inches. Bring them up to a boil and then turn the heat down to low. Simmer the beans for about an hour, or until you try one and it smooshes against the top of your mouth. They are ready to use in a recipe, or you can refrigerate them for up to about a week, or freeze them for a couple of months.

This recipe is good as a dip for tortilla chips, or as a base for Black Bean Patties or Rice and Black Beans (recipes to come). The quantities mentioned are approximate; feel free to adjust as necessary to fit the amounts that suit your taste or that you have on hand.

3 cups cooked black beans, drained (or two cans of black beans...but why spend the money? Didn't you read my novel above about the cost effectiveness of dried beans?)
1 cup sweet onion, chopped
3 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped (or 1 Tbsp dried cilantro)
2 Tbsp lime juice
salt to taste (kosher salt if you've got it - about 1 tsp)

Stir ingredients together in a bowl and refrigerate.


Dawn McKinstry said...

Mmmmm... black beans. I love your recipe, that's how I like mine, with lots of onion and kosher salt. I'll have to try it with the cilantro too.

And I love the quantity/price explanation. I've always knew that the dry beans were probably cheaper, but never did the math to actually figure it out. Thanks! ;)

Aubree said...

The cilantro is key, but the lime juice definitely gives it some extra pizazz, too. I added it the first time because I had a lime that was going bad and I wanted to use it up, but now I always add it.

Thanks for stopping by!

SarahKate said...

That sounds so yummy! I adore black beans and cilantro. Perfect summer food.