Recipe: Simple Stewed Black Beans

Just before the lockdown when everything got a bit weird, I was thinking about enchiladas.

I love Mexican food, and I love American-style Mexican food. The problem is that cheese and I are not friends, so those big, American style enchiladas cooked in bubbly tomato sauce covered in a mountain of cheese are something I’ve never been able to indulge in. When Rick Stein’s book Road To Mexico (ad) first came out there was a recipe for chicken enchiladas in there smothered in salsa verde and topped off with queso fresca that I happily substituted with feta, but while they were tasty, they did not quite hit that comfort food bracket a bubbling pan of enchiladas usually indicates.

Anyway, so why I was thinking about enchiladas in the first place. I made Vegan Black Bean Enchiladas for BBC Food, filling them with, well, black beans, topping them off with tomato sauce, and subbing in tangy, red onion laced guacamole for the cheese.

They’re good. Serious, vegan comfort food, but the problem is that they serve 4-6 people, 6 being more accurate when it comes to the amount I can manage at once and as they’re more my thing than my families thing, it’s not really practical to make them. 

Simple Stewed Black Beans (Vegan)
Simple Stewed Black Beans

So, about these black beans, the filling I used for those enchiladas, that is a sort of cross between a Brazilian black bean recipe I like to do sometimes to serve alongside barbecued meats, and Mexican-style refried beans. They’re actually pretty awesome by themselves in a warm bowl you can wrap your hands around, topped with lots of creamy avocado, punchy, finely chopped red onion, and lots of fresh chives. They’re rich, comforting, and beautifully spiced. The perfect meat free, store cupboard dinner for the cooler few days that are heading our way.

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Simple Stewed Black Beans

  • Author: Rachel Phipps
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 1-2 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: One Pan
  • Cuisine: Mexican
  • Diet: Vegan


Simple stewed black beans, delicious served in warm bowls with lots of toppings for dinner, served as a side dish, or used as a filling for vegan enchiladas or tacos.


  • 1 small white onion
  • light cooking oil
  • sea salt
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/4 tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cajun spice mix
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree (tomato paste)
  • 1 x 400g (14 oz) can black beans in water
  • cubed avocado (optional, for topping)
  • 1/2 small red onion (optional, finely chopped for topping)
  • small handful fresh chives (optional, finely chopped for topping)


  1. Peel and finely chop the white onion, and cook it gently in a splash of light oil with a pinch of salt over a medium heat until soft and only just starting to colour – this should take about 5 minutes.
  2. Peel and finely chop the garlic before stirring it into the pan, followed by the spices. Cook for a minute or two until fragrant before stirring in the tomato puree. Cook for a further minute or two.
  3. Add the can of black beans – liquid and all – to the pan and stir until combined. Lower the heat to medium low and cook the beans gently for 20 minutes, stirring regularly, until the beans are just starting to break apart and they have thickened to make them spoonable. If you plan to use these beans as an enchilada filling, do cook them for a little longer if you wish to make them even thicker.
  4. Season to taste with a generous amount of sea salt before serving with your chosen toppings.