Cuban Inspired Black Beans with Barley

Work has definitely been keeping me busy. Topping off the end of a week where we launched two different products, there was a torrential downpour and hail on my walk home on Friday night. It seemed a fitting end to a hectic and somewhat stressful week!

Since cooking always helps me unwind, I decided to make this black bean dish. It is loosely inspired by Cuban Black Beans in Molly Katzen’s Heart of the Plate.

I started off by chopping onions, a carrot, garlic, and green onions, then sautéing them in olive oil.


Next, I added pineapple and red pepper to add some sweetness and extra crunch, along with cumin, turmeric, and Aji Amarillo chile powder (a recent discovery at the Savory Spice Shop).


Once the spices were heated through, I added black beans and lime juice and covered the mixture to simmer for a few minutes.


After simmering for a few minutes, the sauce had thickened, the flavors had all melded together, and the beans were ready to eat!


I decided to serve the beans on top of barley, although rice works just as well. Green onions add a nice crunch and fresh flavor.


Cuban Inspired Black Beans with Barley
2 small onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, finely diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 can (15oz) black beans, drained and well rinsed
1/2 cup fresh pineapple, chopped
5 green onions, chopped
1 1/2 cups barley, uncooked
1 Tbsp freshly-ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground Aji Amarillo chiles or cayenne (optional)
1 tsp red pepper flakes, plus more to taste (optional)
1/4 cup lime juice

In a sauce pan, boil 5 cups of water. Salt well, and add the barley. Reduce the heat and cook the barley until tender but still slightly chewy, 20-25 minutes.

In a sauté pan, heat about 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, garlic, and the white parts of the green onion, and sauté until very soft and fragrant (about 10 minutes). Season lightly with salt.

Add the pineapple and red pepper and sauté for a few more minutes, then add the cumin, turmeric, chile powder, and red pepper flakes. You can omit the chile powder and red pepper flakes for a less-spicy dish. 

After the spices are heated through, add the black beans and lime juice, then stir to combine. Add a little bit of water if there is not enough liquid in the pan to make a light sauce. Cover, reduce heat to medium, then simmer for about 7 minutes until all the flavors are combined. Taste and add salt or pepper as needed.

Serve the beans over the barley. Top with chopped green onions and red pepper flakes for a little extra kick.