Potaje Cubano: Mouthwatering Vegan Black Bean Stew Recipe from Cuba
 Potaje de Frijoles Negros 

Potaje de Frijoles Negros 

One of the best ways to get to the heart of a culture while traveling is through its cuisine. Ingredients are often determined by what’s abundant and available - something I found to be very true on my first trip to Cuba last November. I visited Ciego de Ávila, Cuba after hurricane Irma to give english classes and had difficulty finding any vegetarian food  because the devastating hurricane destroyed most of the crops. The produce that survived the hurricane was taken to Trinidad and Havana where the majority of the population, tourism, and economy is concentrated leaving us out of luck in Ciego de Ávila. More than a week into the stay with my host family in Ciego and sticking to diet of rice, beans, pickled vegetables, and an occasional side of chopped lettuce or chard, I was thrilled to find an exciting new bean based recipe at a restaurant called La Casona. This mouthwatering vegan potaje de frijoles negros (black bean stew) is full of exciting flavors and is perfect for a vegan diet since beans are high in folate, B vitamins and iron, and heart-healthy.

After speaking to the chef at La Casona and begging him to let me in on his secret, he  shared only a few key ingredients, leaving me to recreate the rest of the recipe from memory when I got home.  

If you are curious about Ciego de Ávila or planning a trip there, be sure to read my post on Things to do in Ciego de Avila. A special thank you to my lovely host mom, Joaquina, and everyone else who made my time in Ciego de Avila special.

 Black beans are high in folate, B vitamins and iron, and heart-healthy.

Black beans are high in folate, B vitamins and iron, and heart-healthy.

Ingredients 

 The streets of La Havana, November 2018

The streets of La Havana, November 2018

cooking potaje vegana cubano
  • 1.5 pounds whole black beans (about 2 ½ cups)

  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes

  • 1 cup chopped onion

  • 6 cups of water

  • ⅔ cup of wine

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 small can chopped jalapeños

  • ½ teaspoon cumin

  • ⅓ cup  chopped cilantro

  • avocado (garnish)

Cooking time: 5 hours

Serves: 8-10 people

Step One (optional): Pour the black beans into a large bowl and add water until the beans are submerged one inch under water. Let the beans soak for 12 to 24 hours.

Step Two: After soaking the black beans, drain them and pour them into a large pot. Add 6 cups of water. Light the stove and bring the beans to a simmer.   

Step Three: Add 2 bay leaves, 1 teaspoon cumin, a small can jalapeños, and 1 cup chopped onion.  Leave the beans to a simmer for four hours, stirring every 20 minutes, until the beans and onions are fully cooked.   

Step Four: Pour ⅔ cup of wine into the stew as it simmers. Then add 2 teaspoons  crushed red pepper into the mix. Stir for 30 minutes.

Step Five: Add ⅓ cup cilantro and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir for 30 minutes more.

Step Six: Serve in a bowl with diced avocado, fresh cilantro, and lemon juice drizzled on top.

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