Easy Colombian Beans with Rice, Chorizo, and Avocado
How about impressing your friends with a delicious and easy to make Colombian dinner. Frisoles or fríjoles are a very typical meal in the state of Antioquia where my city Medellin is located. Frisoles is the food of the mountains, the food of the people, and the food of comfort. If you find yourself in Medellin, rest assured that there is a pot of pressure-cooked beans in every kitchen on a daily basis. These beans may have been made for lunch but they reheat beautifully for dinner or for the next day’s breakfast. Lunch tends to be the main meal served in Colombia. Lunch will consist of a “la sopa y el seco”, translating to the soup and the “dry”. The dry portion can consist of either meat and rice or potatoes with vegetables or a salad. Beans can be served as the soup portion of the lunch. But like many Antioqueños, I love to mix my beans with my seco.
When I cook my beans I make them in a thicker broth and serve them together with rice and meat on a plate. In this recipe I serve them with chorizo. There are two ways of making this bean recipe. You can use either canned beans or pressure-cooked beans. Canned beans is an easier and quicker option. These are generally a good option depending on the brand. You may find some brands a little tougher than others, which will require that you cook them longer on the stove. In this recipe, I use canned beans and make a vegetarian version of the frisoles. Alternatively, I promise you that it is very easy to pressure cook beans. I like to pressure cook pinto beans with beef stew meat and other seasonings for an outstanding meal.
- 1 Tbs canola oil
- 1 cup diced red or green pepper (1 small pepper)
- 1 cup diced yellow onion (1 medium or ½ of large onion)
- 1 glove of garlic passed through a garlic press or minced
- 1 cup diced tomato (fresh or half of a 14 oz can) Use more tomato if you want
- 2 – 14 to 16 oz. cans of beans with their liquid (pinto or borlotti)
- ½ cup to 1 cup of water
- ½ cup to 1 cup of chopped cilantro (coriander leaves)
- ½ to 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp kosher or regular salt
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- Black pepper to taste
You begin by making the “sofrito”, a tomato sauce used as a base in Latin American and Caribbean cooking. In some instances the sofrito is made by pureeing raw vegetables and seasonings and then adding the puree to a recipe. I chose not to puree my sofrito in this case. I like the added texture of the vegetables in the beans.
- Heat the oil in a large pot
- Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 3 minutes
- Add the pepper and cook for 2- 3 additional minutes
- Add the tomato and cook until most of the liquid disappears, about 5 – 10 additional minutes.
- Add the cans of beans with their liquid
- Add the water (can add more if you like the beans to have more of a soup consistency)
- Add salt, cumin, oregano, and black pepper.
- Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer on low heat for 10 – 15 minutes or until beans are tender and the liquid is thickened.
- Add cilantro
- Adjust salt and pepper
You are ready to serve. Accompany the beans with chorizo, rice, and avocado slices.
Rice: I like to serve this recipe with yellow rice however white rice is perfectly fine and probably more typical in Colombia. I use long grain white rice. To make yellow rice, the purist would use saffron, which is an expensive spice and imparts its unique flavor. However, I make the poor man’s yellow rice using turmeric powder which is less expensive than saffron. Turmeric does not impart a flavor, but gives its beautiful golden color to the food it is used in and offers added health benefits.
Chorizo: Chorizo can be either a fresh sausage that needs cooking or a cured sausage that can be eaten as is. If you live in London there is only one chorizo brand to be purchased, and that is the fresh chorizo sold by Brindisa at Borough Market. It is by far the best quality fresh chorizo I have purchased and prepared in my life. If you live in the states you’ll have some varying options available to you but it is also very dependent on geography. Here in the suburbs of Philadelphia, I find most chorizos are extremely fatty, tough, and chewy. That said, my quest for excellent chorizo is still on going. I have in my refrigerator a brand I bought at Whole Foods recently. I’ll let you know how that is. I may have to resort to making my own chorizo!
Arepas: I would be remiss if I didn’t mention arepas. Any Antioqueño would tell me I’m crazy for serving beans without arepas. Arepas are flat breads made with freshly ground maize but today there are “instant” arepa flours that you can purchase in the stores (Masarepa and P.A.N.) There are many ways to serve arepas, as an accompaniment to a dish or on their own. Arepas are also great for stuffing. This is definitely a fun topic for a future blog.
Avocados: see my posting on guacamole to learn more about avocados
To read my favorite Colombian food blogger’s site:
For more on the pressure cooked Colombian beans: