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Epazote and Frijoles Negros de Olla

Epazote and Frijoles Negros de Olla

Epazote, happily drinking in water

Epazote, with its long, narrow, serrated leaves and strong, wild flavor, is a new herb for our Ranui Gardens CSA box.  When I found epazote in the box, I knew I had to make epazote and frijoles negros de olla.

Native to Mexico, in years past it was almost impossible to find epazote in Utah. Now most Latino markets sell it right next to the cilantro and parsley.  But, unlike the more familiar Mexican herbs, epazote is rarely eaten raw.

In Mexican cuisine, epazote is essential to an authentic pot of black beans–or soupy beans in their broth. Pot beans is English for frijoles de olla.

To cook pot beans takes time and planning. There is the time to soak the bean and the time for stovetop low simmer. Canned beans are convenient, but they can’t even compare in flavor to home-cooked beans.

Make a big pot; leftovers make a great addition to tortilla soup.  Or mash leftover frijoles de olla into refritos (refried beans) to go with breakfast eggs.

Epazote and Frijoles Negros de Olla
  • 1 pound dried black beans
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic , minced
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large sprig epazote , stem and leaves included
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt , or to taste
  1. Pick over the beans, looking for little stones that passed for beans in the packaging. Rinse them and put them in a bowl, covering them amply with cold water. Let soak at least 4 hours or ideally, overnight.
  2. Discard any floating bean skins.
  3. Drain the beans and put them into a heavy pot with the onion, garlic and oil. Cover with hot water—3 to 4 inches above the level of the beans. Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium, and cook, covered, until the beans are nearly tender, about 2 hours.
  4. Add the epazote and the salt and continue cooking until the beans are soft, but not falling apart, topping off with more hot water if the level is getting low. Season to taste with more salt if you wish.


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