Black Beans with Orange Juice

MAKES: 4 servings

TIME: 30 minutes with cooked beans

An odd-sounding combination, but trust me, a delicious one. The sweet acidity of the orange juice works nicely with the earthy flavor of the black beans. Using a fruity red wine complements the orange flavor and also adds to the complexity of the dish.

Other beans you can use: Rich, earthy beans, like kidney and pinto, work best.

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

11/2 teaspoons ground cumin

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 orange, well washed

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 bell pepper, preferably red or yellow, peeled if desired (see Preparing Peppers), cored, seeded, and chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/2 cup dry red wine

Chopped fresh cilantro or parsley leaves for garnish

Put the beans in a pot over medium heat; add the cumin and a good pinch of salt and pepper.

Halve the orange. Peel one half and add the skin to the beans, then divide the sections and set aside. Squeeze the juice out of the other half and set aside.

Put the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pepper softens, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Add to the beans.

Turn the heat to high and add the red wine to the skillet. Cook until the wine is reduced by about half, about 5 minutes. Add to the beans along with the reserved orange juice. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Remove the orange peel, then serve, garnished with the reserved orange sections and some cilantro, or store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Variations

Black Beans and Beets with Orange Juice. Quite sweet, but acidic as well and unmistakably not dessert: Add 1 cup peeled and chopped beets in Step 1; cook until the beets are tender.

Black Beans and Chiles with Orange Juice. Terrific contrast; use any fruity or smoky chile orchili powder (to make your own, see Chili Powder): Add 1 or 2 fresh chiles (like New Mexico or habanero), cleaned and chopped, or 1 or 2 dried chiles , soaked, cleaned, and chopped, in Step 1.

White Beans with Lemon. A lighter version: Replace the black beans with any white beans, the cumin with 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary, and the red wine with white. Eliminate the bell peppers. In Step 2, substitute about 1 tablespoon julienned or chopped lemon zest for the orange peel; set aside the juice of half the lemon.