the taste space

Colombian-Style Red Beans with Plantains

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Sides by janet @ the taste space on July 31, 2012

I have been patiently waiting for Rob to post our Colombia photos. I wanted to be able to share some of my photos and tips from the trip. The full albums from Bogota and Salento are here and the Lost City and Cartagena are here. I have included a few of my favourite photos, though.

We were in both hot and cold places, with big banana leaves and small mushrooms… and enjoyed a wonderful cooking class in Bogota.

We saw lots of beautiful scenery, especially in Salento, where we rode horses in the valley and I was able to play with our guide’s machete!

With tons of hiking! In and around Bogota, Salento and the biggest of hikes- to the Lost City which is patrolled by the Colombian army.

This is my first Colombian meal I have prepared in my own kitchen- red beans with plantains. Although I will admit that I never came across this dish while in Colombia. Red beans, yes. Plantains, yes. Never together which is why I was intrigued to try out this recipe from Viva Vegan.

Who would have thought there would be even more beans that I do not yet have. I had to restrain myself from bringing home too many new beans from Colombia. I figured they may be more easily found once we move to the southern US, so I don’t have many Colombian bean souvenirs. The standard Colombian bean (that is not the coffee bean), is the bola roja. Another standard is the Cranberry bean (also known as Borlotti or Cargamanto), which I have cooked before. They are a bigger creamy bean although a bit dry. However, within my Rancho Gordo stash, I had Sangre de Toro beans which I used instead. Dense and almost chewy, they are Mexican beans that can be substituted for any recipe calling for red beans.

Here, the red beans are cooked with a sofrito of onions and red pepper, then spiced with smoked paprika, cumin and Mexican oregano. The plantain adds a hit of sweetness along with the red pepper sofrito. This recipe was more complex than what I learned at my cooking class, but I think I will also be revisiting my bona fide Colombian bean recipe, since it was so good. Next time, I will break out the bola roja beans! :)


This is my submission to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Simona, and to this week’s Weekend Wellness.

Colombian-Style Red Beans with Plantains
Adapted from Viva Vegan

2 cups dried red beans, soaked in water overnight if possible (there are many Colombian-specific beans like bola roja or cranberry/cargamanto, but I used Sangre de Toro beans from Rancho Gordo)
5 cups water, with moer added if the beans dry up
1-2 tsp dried epazote (optional)
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped (2 cups chopped)
1 chopped red bell pepper, seeds, stems and ribs discarded (2 cups red bell pepper)
1/4 tsp salt
4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1.5 tsp sweet smoked paprika, to taste
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried Mexican oregano
1 green or ripe but still firm plantain, skinned and chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Add soaked beans to a large pot with 5 cups of water. Add epazote and bay leaves. Bring the beans to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until the beans are soft, but not quite done. The time will vary depending on how large, dry, or old your beans are, and if you have pre-soaked them, from anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half (I didn’t actually presoak my beans and it took 2 hours to cook). You may need to add more water.

2. While the beans are cooking, sauté the onion and bell pepper in olive oil until soft, approximately 30-45 minutes. Sprinkle with a bit of salt. Add the garlic, smoked paprika, cumin, and oregano.  Sauté until spices are fragrant. Add chopped plantain and cook until it becomes more yellow, around 5-10 minutes. Set aside until the beans are ready.

3. Fish out and discard the bay leaves from the pot of beans. Remove, but reserve, extra cooking liquid until there is no liquid above beans (around 2.5 cups of reserved water).

4. Add the onion mixture and salt to the pot of beans. Cook another 30 minutes or so until thickened and your desired consistency. Add reserved liquid if needed. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve with cooked rice.

Serves 8.

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22 Responses

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  1. rszumlak said, on July 31, 2012 at 6:07 AM

    Yay Colombia!

  2. sprint2thetable said, on July 31, 2012 at 8:37 AM

    Can I vacation with you next time?? That looks like the perfect trip! I can’t believe how picturesque that mushroom is (is that a weird comment? LOL!).

    • janet @ the taste space said, on July 31, 2012 at 9:02 AM

      I love the mushroom photo! It was so colourful and HUGE! We felt like we were in Super Mario land or something! Definitely wouldn’t want to eat it, though. :)

  3. Flavors of the Sun said, on July 31, 2012 at 10:04 AM

    These look great! I am convinced that people don’t eat enough plantains!

    • janet @ the taste space said, on July 31, 2012 at 10:14 AM

      You are too funny! Plantains can be hard to find here and I bet most people have no clue how to prepare them. I agree, though, they are pretty awesome. :)

  4. Sofia said, on July 31, 2012 at 11:13 AM

    I laughed out loud when I read “Rancho Gordo Stash”…I have one too and that’s exactly how I think of it! It’s crazy how many different kinds of beans there are in the world, I wish I could try them all! Your bean dish looks lovely, I’ve never cooked plantains before, will have to give it a go sometime.

    • janet @ the taste space said, on July 31, 2012 at 2:26 PM

      Sometimes the beans are so pretty, I feel bad cooking with them! Although my goal is to eat through them all, without guilt, by the end of the year. :)

  5. Joanne Bruno (@joanneeatswell) said, on July 31, 2012 at 12:34 PM

    Your trip sounds like so much fun! I love this Colombia inspired meal. I’ve really been craving plantains lately!

  6. Dawn said, on July 31, 2012 at 4:31 PM

    I love that photo of the big red mushroom! The beans/plantains with cumin and paprika sound AMAZING as usual.

  7. Simona said, on July 31, 2012 at 4:43 PM

    Nice photos! This may be the time I finally cook some plantain: I have a batch of beans I cooked yesterday that would work well in this recipe, I think. Thank you so much for contributing to My Legume Love Affair.

  8. Genevieve said, on August 1, 2012 at 7:49 PM

    Looks like you guys made good use of your time in Columbia – and learned a lot in terms of food too! I love the combo of plantains with black beans, but I haven’t tried them with any other bean. All the spices you used sound very authentic too – I’ve never even heard of epazote!

    • janet @ the taste space said, on August 1, 2012 at 8:24 PM

      Thanks Genevieve! I haven’t seen fresh epazote, but have some dried stuff. It is totally omittable – but apparently it is the Mexican’s kombu. Ie, helps to reduce the flatulence from beans! ;)

  9. [...] Colombian-Style Red Beans with Plantains (tastespace.wordpress.com) [...]

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  14. bavariansojourn said, on May 13, 2013 at 5:55 AM

    What fantastic pictures, it sounds like a fascinating place! Love the look of that recipe too, thanks for adding it to BritMum’s Foodie Round up! :)

  15. blissedmicha said, on August 23, 2013 at 7:45 PM

    yum! I spent 2 months in Colombia earlier this year but never came across this dish either. But ohhh I have made so many arepas since being home! I love plantains and I love beans so I’ll be giving this a try very soon :) What was your favorite part of Colombia? Mine was Salento – I wish I could live there!

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