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Quick Black Beans with Tomatoes

With onions, garlic and a hint of lime juice, these Quick Black Beans with Tomatoes are a zesty — a little spicy — addition to many dishes. Try them over rice, on baked potatoes, as part of nachos or on salad!

Black beans with tomatoes and onions are shown with white rice in a green meal prep container.

When I was pregnant with my son Will, who is now 15, I went through a stage of desperately wanting nachos like I ordered in the 80s at chain restaurants like Chili’s and Bennigans. Piled high with beans, tomatoes, cheese, olives and so much more, they were epic. But in the early 2000s, nachos had gone composed — so instead of the pile of foods all heated together, you’d get 10 individual chips with carefully placed jalapeno rings and a burst of melted cheese.

That led me to making nachos at home, varying the combinations and flavors. And more than a decade ago I developed this recipe for Quick Black Beans with Tomatoes, which is perfect for serving on nachos like I remember from childhood. If you have been following Sarah’s Cucina Bella since it launched in 2005, you might even remember this recipe. It first appeared in 2007, though it’s now been fully updated.

But though these came to be as a nacho topping, they have become a go-to over the years for topping so many other dishes. Truly, these are some versatile, flavorful black beans. And they are so easy to make that you have almost no excuse not to make them.

On a cutting board, a can of black beans, diced tomatoes with green chilies, a lime, diced red onion and minced garlic sit.

The flavor of these Quick Black Beans with Tomatoes is built on the process of making them. You saute red onions until they soften and begin to brown, giving them a hint of sweetness. You add garlic and cook it just enough to bring out the fragrance. Tomatoes with chiles and all their juices are added and left to mingle with the onions and garlic briefly. Then the black beans and lime juice enter the fray, the final pieces of this flavor puzzle. Along the way, you season with a little salt and pepper here and there, letting the flavors develop and build.

Steaming black beans with tomatoes and onions are shown with white rice in a green meal prep container.

The result is a black bean dish with a zesty edge that works well in so many ways. Eat these on nachos or over baked potatoes. Spoon them into burritos or over rice. Try them on salads. The possibilities are limitless.

The chiles in the tomatoes do give these a hint of spice though. So if you aren’t into that, this probably won’t be something you love. If you do like spiciness, feel free to up the level with the addition of a diced hot pepper (add it with the onion).

Quick Black Beans with Tomatoes

Quick Black Beans with Tomatoes

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

With onions, garlic and a hint of lime juice, these Quick Black Beans with Tomatoes are a zesty addition to many dishes. Try them over rice, on baked potatoes, as part of nachos or on salad! The tomatoes do have a hint of spiciness though, so if you don't like spicy food these might not be for you.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp oil such a canola or grapeseed
  • 1 small red onion, diced (about 2/3 cup)

  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 
1 10-oz can tomatoes with diced chilies (with the liquid)

  • 1 15.5-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 
1 tbsp lime juice

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  
  2. When oil is hot, add the red onion. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for 8-10 minutes or until it’s softened and beginning to brown. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. 
  3. Add the tomatoes with their juices to the pan. Bring to a boil and then add the black beans, lime juice and a pinch more of salt and pepper. Cook, uncovered for 8-10 minutes, or until much of the liquid evaporates. 
  4. Serve. This can be eaten over rice, in burritos, on salads, on baked potatoes and more.

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