Tex-Mex Black Beans

Being from Texas, anything labeled “Tex-Mex” automatically makes me a little suspicious. Since moving north thirteen years ago, I’ve had a lot of things that pretended to be Tex-Mex. I’ve had a lot of things that promised they’d be Tex-Mex. I’ve even had some things that were inedible, so I’ve no idea if they really were Tex-Mex or not. But the genuine, delicious Tex-Mex? That’s been few and far between.

But that’s ok, because I’ve learned how to create my own versions of dishes that I miss from childhood. I’ve made them all: enchiladas, tacos, nachos. (And don’t get me started on how to make nachos; does anyone outside of Texas realize that nachos are not just chips piled up with cheese dumped on top???) And here’s a little secret about vegetarian Tex-Mex, a secret guaranteed to get you a standing ovation from veggies and meat-eaters alike: start with well-seasoned beans as your base, and you’ve already got a hit.

These are that base, but they’re also perfect by themselves. In fact, the first time I made them a couple of years ago was for a dinner party. I was making vegan enchiladas for a group that included omnivores and herbivores alike, and I wanted to make them so tasty that even the non-vegans wouldn’t miss the meat or cheese. I made these beans as part of the filling, and then ended up having to double the amount of corn I put in the enchiladas because I ate so many of the beans off the stove!

These are delicately flavored with cumin and garlic, and just a touch of heat from the cayenne. They’re not too hot, so you’ll still be able to add jalapenos to whatever dish you’re making, but they’ve got a lovely, deep flavor that gives off just enough heat to make them sing. You can use these in about a million recipes–and later this week, I’ll be sharing one, so stay tuned! 🙂

 

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