No one would believe mom is Russian if they’ve tasted her pernil with a side of rice and beans. Seriously. And while I don’t eat pernil these days, I’m perfectly fine with having a bowl of these beans all on their own, or with rice! Or bread.
Mom told me she learned to stew them from her best friend’s mother as a teen. Tomato broth, with potatoes and olives, smoked, salty meat, and tons of fresh cilantro is where her recipe begins, but does not have to end. Sometimes you’ll see sliced carrots in there, too. Or maybe even peppers. There’s a nod to Autumn in this recipe by using the honey nut squash for sweetness. It’s hearty and the recipe doesn’t require that it needs to be. I love that most about it. As long as you have a can of beans, organic Sazon, and tomato puree, you can totally improvise based on what you have around your kitchen. No fuss, EVER. Do you always store sofrito in your fridge? Use some of that, too.
My approach to mom’s beans is always based on the season and what’s in season. The addition of orange zest is not something mom would use, but I happen to be obsessed with cooking with oranges. When flavors of citrus, smokiness, and spiciness meet–it surprises you in an eyebrows-up kind of way. While smoked or cured meat is always involved in her recipe, I’ve added smoked tofu instead.
Now, let’s get cooking!
- olive oil to coat pan
- 1/2 cup smoked meat or tofu
- 2-3 long strips of orange zest
- 2 tsp organic Sazon
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme or oregano or 1/2 tsp dried
- 1/3 cup Spanish onion diced
- 2-3 garlic cloves chopped
- 1 jalapeño diced (optional)
- 1 tbsp capers or handful of Spanish olives
- 1 1/2 cup honeynut squash or other veggies diced
- 15 oz can of cannellini beans or other variety
- 8 oz can of tomato sauce
- 1 1/4 cup water or stock or more
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cilantro to taste
- In a medium pot under low-medium heat, add your smoked meat, orange zest, garlic, onion, jalapeno, capers, sazon, and herbs. Saute for a few minutes, til onions are translucent.
- Add beans, tossing til everything is combined.
- Stir in the tomato sauce and water. Simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes.
- Then add your honeynut squash and any more liquid if necessary. Simmer til tender, about 15-20 minutes. Discard orange zest and woody herbs.
- Serve with rice or bread.