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My boyfriend is Cuban and he makes the most wonderful dishes that he learned to make the first 28 years of his life in Havana, Cuba. I try to learn everything I can from him so that I can imitate his dishes and make them for him, too.  Part of the monthly ration from la libreta you receive in Cuba is about 3 pounds of black beans. As a young boy raised by a single mother of 3, Rafa watched over his mother’s shoulder and learned to make these delicious Cuban Black Beans. As with any traditional Cuban plate of food, serve with fresh white rice made with a splash of EVOO and salt and an ensalada de tomato (tomato sliced in rounds dressed in EVOO, vinegar and salt). Yum! You could also make a huevos rancheros dish using these beans. Make two eggs any style, top them with the beans. Top that with cheese mix and melt under the broiler for a few seconds, top with salsa. Serve with rice on the side or flour tortillas. Double Yum!

Traditional Cuban Black Beans”


  • 1 16 oz. bag of black beans
  • handful of bay leaves
  • splash of vinegar
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced (or white, I used a bit of both)
  • 4 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1 pack of Sazon Goya “Con Azafran” – Azafran is Spanish for Saffron
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. ground oregano
  • 2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt to taste


  1.  Do you have a pressure cooker? If you do, set it to 15 minutes. Pour in 32 oz. of water with the 16 oz. bag of black beans, the handful of bay leaves and a splash of vinegar. Start. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, boil the beans until they’re medium-soft with the same ingredients.
  2. While the beans are softening, take a large skillet and pour in EVOO. Turn the heat up to medium and saute the garlic, onion, bell pepper and all the spices (including Sazon). Once tender, turn off and wait for the beans.
  3. When the beans are soft enough, using a slotted metal spoon, remove the bay leaves from the water and throw them away.
  4. Pour the saute into the pot of boiled beans and bring to a boil or until the beans coagulate a little bit and the water reduces significantly (you don’t want them to be runny, but you don’t want soup either).
  5. Very important step: table a potato masher if you have one or improvise. Mash the beans a bit so that some of them break up and release the starches. Leave a big longer to thicken.
  6. Salt them to taste and enjoy!

Serves 6 dinner size portions with rice in a bowl. Serves 10 portions if just portioned as side dish to chicken, rice and salad.

Weight Watchers Points = 5 as a side dish, 8 points as a main dish