Some kind of Mexican food is on our menu every week, whether it’s tacos, enchiladas, fajitas, soup, whatever. It’s a meal our boys always look forward to, especially if there’s guacamole, too. We always have beans on the side, black beans being our favorite. We spice them up with onion, garlic, chili powder, cumin, chipotle powder, and Mexican oregano and add some tomato sauce or prepared salsa for tomato flavor. I like to make them in the pressure cooker because it’s such a time saver, less than 60 minutes from start to finish, but you can also follow the traditional method of soaking the beans overnight then cooking on the stove for an hour or so. Either way, you’ll have a healthy and budget-friendly side dish that your kids can help make. And if you have leftovers, you can add some chicken or vegetable stock to make a quick and healthy bean soup.
Here’s how to make the beans, as demonstrated by Builder Guy, age 8:
Check the beans for stones or bad pieces and remove them. (This is also a great sensory activity for children, especially those with a sensory processing disorder. Our two sons with special needs both like to help with this part and the rinsing.)
Rinse the beans until the water runs clear.
Add the beans, onions, garlic, and spices to the pressure cooker.
Add the tomato sauce, water, and sunflower oil.
Then cook according to the manufacturers directions. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can make the beans on the stove instead, following the directions in the Variations below.
How Adults Can Help the Kids
- Demonstrate and assist with any tasks that might be new: measuring, stirring, pouring, chopping.
- Assign the simpler tasks.
- Make sure an adult is present at all times.
- Young children should not handle sharp knives. Make sure an adult or older child or teenager does the chopping.
- An adult should handle the pressure cooker. Take care to follow the manufacturers directions for proper release to avoid steam burns.
SPICY MEXICAN BLACK BEANS
pressure cooker, or 6-quart pot with lid and heavy bottom
16 ounces (454 g) black beans, rinsed and picked through
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon chipotle powder, or less to taste
2 teaspoons Mexican oregano, crushed
8 ounces (227 g) tomato sauce
2 quarts/liters water
4 tablespoons sunflower oil (per pressure cooker directions, may vary with your equipment)
2 teaspoons salt
1. Add the cleaned beans, onion, garlic, chili powder, cumin, chipotle powder, and crushed oregano to the pressure cooker. Stir in the tomato sauce, water, and sunflower oil.
2. Cover with the lid and cook according to your manufacturers directions. After the pressure releases, add the salt and simmer for 2 to 3 more minutes, then serve.
Stove preparation: Soak the clean beans in water overnight. Drain well, then add to a 6-quart pot with the onion, garlic, chili powder, cumin, chipotle powder, crushed oregano, tomato sauce, and water. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and continue cooking until the beans are tender, about 1 hour.