Baked Brazilian Black Beans

MAKES: 4 servings

TIME: About 1 hour with cooked beans, largely unattended

A tropical party dish, one you can make in large quantities and ahead of time (it will taste even better the next day). Serve with lots of rice, some warm tortillas or Rich Golden Bread, and Spicy No-Mayo Coleslaw, Grilled Pineapple and Onion Salsa, Fresh Tomato Salsa, or Radish Salsa.

Other beans you can use: black-eyed peas, pinto, or kidney beans or any medium-size heirloom beans you might find, like appaloosa or anastazi.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 tablespoons minced fresh chile (like jalapeo or Thai), or to taste, or hot red pepper flakes or cayenne to taste

1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger

11/2 cups chopped ripe tomato (about 12 ounces; canned are fine; don’t bother to drain)

1 large yellow-black plantain or ripe banana, peeled and cut into chunks

3 cups cooked or canned black beans with about 1 cup of their cooking liquid

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350В°F. Put the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the chile and ginger and cook for another minute, stirring.

Transfer the onion mixture, along with the tomato and plantain, to a food processor or blender and pure.

Combine the tomato mixture with the beans and thyme in an ovenproof dish. Taste and add salt and pepper, then cover and bake until bubbling, about 40 minutes. Serve hot or store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Variations

Baked Curried Black Beans. More Caribbean: Replace the thyme with a couple of fresh or dried curry leaves and add them with the chile in Step 1. Add a tablespoon curry powder (to make your own, see Fragrant Curry Powder) in Step 3.

Smoky Baked Black Beans. Subtly smoky and delicious: Substitute garlic for the ginger, plus more if you like. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons smoked Spanish paprika (pimentГіn) and 1/2 cup cubed smoked tofu in Step 3.

Brazilian Black Beans and Rice. Simple and more substantial: Stir in 11/2 cups long-grain rice and 1 cup vegetable stock or water in Step 3; bake until the rice is tender.