Crispy Black Bean Tacos with Cabbage Slaw


I love Tex-Mex.  Black beans, pinto beans or veggies tossed is spicy chili powder, cumin, oregano and smoked paprika are just superb.  They are even better when you roll or stuff them into tortillas or tamales.  (If you haven’t noticed yet, I really like fillings stuffed inside of starches: dumplings, tacos, empanadas, potstickers, grilled sandwiches, etc.).  So when I stumbled upon a recipe for crispy black bean tacos that would use up my leftover cabbage (from potstickers) and use feta – another favorite of mine – I had to try it.

I am so glad I did.  These tacos are simple, but the cabbage/avocado slaw is amazing.  Who would have thought of slaw as a star?  The crispy cabbage marries nicely with the tangy lime juice and creamy avocado.  And don’t worry about a spicy kick, that is where the Sriracha comes in.  Drizzle it on or slather it to your tastes.  These tacos are quick, delicious and different from your average taco.  Instead of saving that cabbage for an Italian stew or stir fry, turn it into a taco slaw.  You’ll thank me.


Crispy Black Bean Tacos with Cabbage Slaw

adapted from bon appétit

1 15-oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed

1 teaspoon cumin

5 tablespoons of olive oil, divided

2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice (about 1 lime)

1/2 head of cabbage (about 2 cups), shredded

1 ripe avocado, diced

2 green onions, thinly sliced

10-12 small corn tortillas

1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese (for topping)

Sriracha (or other hot sauce)

salt to taste

Place black beans in medium bowl and mix together with cumin and a pinch of salt.  Partially mash the beans with a fork, potato masher or pastry blender.  In another bowl, whisk 2 teaspoons olive oil with lime juice and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Add the cabbage, avocado and green onions and toss to coat.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat in grill pan or large non-stick skillet.  Add 2 small tortillas (They should fit without overlapping; if they overlap do only one at a time.).  Heat until warmed through, about 30 seconds to 1 minute, and then flip them over.  Immediately add about 2-3 tablespoons of the bean mixture to the center of each tortilla.  Fold the tortilla in half over the mixture, pressing down slightly.  Cook until until golden brown the flip sides, about 1-2 minutes per side.  Continue with the rest of the tortillas and filling.

Once done with all tacos, fill with cabbage slaw and feta.  Then top the tacos with Sriracha to taste.  I like to drizzle just a bit in on them, but others prefer to burn their mouths.


Black Bean and Corn Quesadillas

There is nothing glamorous about this dish.  Yet I would say next to a fritatta it’s the meal I make the most often.  This is a staple in my home.  Cheap, easy and delicious.

This black bean recipe started out as a side dish from an idea on the back of the can.  It wasn’t great, but then again I was young and in college.  Also it was the beginning of me cooking with black beans.  Really, it was the beginning of me cooking consistently.  I don’t mean I didn’t cook.  I did, but it was pasta with store-bought sauce, mac and cheese (yes the blue box) or various attempts at chicken dishes that were okay and edible, but certainly not adventurous nor really that good.  They were meals I cooked because I didn’t really know how to cook.

Enter into the picture my college roommate’s obsession with the Food Network.  I had never watched it nor understood the point.  But there I was, time after time, coaxed into watching some show with my roommate.  Then it was just me watching the shows.  Now it is the first of three channels I automatically flip to when I turn the television on.  (Comedy Central and the Discovery Channel are the other two.)

Though it sounds corny and whatnot, I credit the Food Network with teaching me how to cook.  I don’t use that many recipes from it anymore (food blogs have taken over for me), but it’s where I figured out how to peel garlic (smashing it with a knife – fun) and dice onions effectively (I shared this technique with my mom a few Thanksgivings ago).  I learned how to cook and chop at the same time (Rachael Ray).  I learned that pasta didn’t need a red or white sauce.  Instead it could be tossed with vegetables, lemon juice and olive oil (Giada).  I learned from my favorite – Alton Brown – the science behind cooking, which is really what helped me make recipes my own.

These quesadillas in 5 years have gone from a side dish (poorly executed, honestly) to burritos (better) to quesadillas, which can be made quickly with things I usually always have on hand, but still are mouthwatering.  So open up those black beans and grab those tortillas that have been in your refrigerator for a few weeks (or is that just me?) and above all, enjoy your food.

Black Bean and Corn Quesadillas

2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (or regular)
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for grill pan or skillet
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can whole green chiles, drained and diced
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
4 ears of fresh corn
2 cups shredded Monterrey jack or colby jack cheese
12-16 small corn tortillas

In a small bowl combine the chili powder, ground cumin, oregano, paprika and salt and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and green chiles to the skillet and saute for 7-8 minutes until they start to brown.  Add the minced garlic and saute another minute.  Add the black beans, hominy and chili powder spice mixture.  Stir to combine and coat the vegetables in the spices.  Cook another 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Heat another skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat.  Take quesadilla and lay it flat on a clean surface.  Sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of cheese onto the tortilla.  Next add a layer of black bean mixture, then sprinkle with another couple of tablespoons of cheese.  Place another tortilla on top.  Place the quesadilla onto the grill pan/skillet.  Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side until the cheese is melted and the tortillas are golden brown.  Remove from the pan and place in a 200-degree oven on a baking sheet to keep warm.  Continue combining and cooking the quesadillas until all the bean mixture is gone.

Once finished, remove the quesadillas from the oven and serve warm.  Garnish with plain yogurt, a lime wedge, some salsa verde and a few pieces of avocado or whatever you prefer.

Black Dog Chili

I thought I didn’t like chili.  Then I had my future mother-in-law’s Black Dog Chicken Chili and was stunned as to what I had been missing.  It was the first (of many) recipes I got from her.  This recipe was also my introduction to cumin (I know, so late).  Now, as you will notice from my recipes, I use cumin all the time.  I use it in Mediterranean, Mexican, Indian, and many other dishes.  It gives them a wonderful smoky flavor that verges on spicy, but really only reminds you of spicy.

But I digress, back to the chili.  She says the recipe is from the restaurant Black Dog in Raleigh, N.C., but I don’t think it still exists, so it is her recipe to me.  The first few times I made it with chicken, as the name states.   I then noticed that I always pushed the chicken to the side of my bowl and ate around it.  The next time I just omitted the chicken and I like it so much better this way.

This chili is filling and fairly healthy.  It keeps great in the freezer for later in the month.  Also it’s really simple to make and doesn’t take too long.  I usually serve it with some corn muffins.  (Why muffins?  I prefer muffins to breads and cupcakes to cakes, because they stay moist longer, in my opinion, and everyone gets their own.)  I like to garnish the chili with fresh cilantro or parsley, cheese (anything that melts nicely), fresh tomatoes (farmers’ market if in season like now, or grape tomatoes), and plain yogurt.  (It works great as a sour cream substitute and I like it better.  I always have it on hand.)

Disclaimer for chili purists:  Yes, I understand that you don’t think that chili can be chili if it has beans and no meat.  My solution you can call it Black Dog Bean stew.  That way you can still enjoy it and not worry that you are tainting the chili name.

Black Dog Chili

adapted from my mother-in-law’s Black Dog Chicken Chili Recipe
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 6 oz can whole green chiles, chopped
2 cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups vegetable broth
14 oz can stewed tomatoes, broken up (or chopped)
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (depending on how spicy you want it)
1/2 bunch cilantro, minced

In a stock/soup pot or dutch oven add the oil and bring to medium heat.  While the oil is heating, chop the onions and then add them to the pot.  Season the onions with salt and pepper then saute them for 4 to 5 minutes until they are tender.  While the onion are cooking, chop the whole green chiles and mince the garlic.  Add the garlic and green chiles to the pot and for 1-2 minutes.  Add the beans, chili powder, cumin, oregano, cayenne, cilantro and stir together.  Add the tomatoes with juice and the chicken broth.  Combine ingredients and bring to a boil.  Once boiling reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30-60 minutes (the longer the better).  Garnish with cheese, plain yogurt (or sour cream) and fresh tomatoes.  Serve with a smoky corn muffin and enjoy.

Smoky Corn Muffins

1 package JIFFY Corn Muffin Mix
1 egg
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon paprika

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease or butter a muffin pan (6-8 cups).  In a bowl stir together JIFFY Corn Muffin Mix, egg, plain yogurt and paprika with a fork.  The batter will be slightly lumpy.  Allow batter to rest for 4 minutes.  Fill the muffin tin cups 1/2 to 3/4 full of batter and then bake the muffins for 15-20 minutes or until the are lightly browned and a knife comes out clean when inserted in the middle of a muffin.  Serve warm and enjoy.