Black Bean Nachos

black bean nachos

Among all the international foods enjoyed in this country, Mexican food is one of the most popular. It's hard not to love Mexican food: the spiciness, complex and earthy flavors, and multiple textures. It's truly soul-satisfying comfort food. And why shouldn't we like the food of our neighbors? Though we don't always behave so neighborly. With all that's happening right now with Arizona's proposed new immigration law, we can't forget that immigrants built this nation and Mexican-Americans have contributed much to this country.

Today is Cinco de Mayo, the fifth of May, the day that commemorates the Mexican defeat of the French army in Peubla in 1862. In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is not an official holiday and it's not often celebrated. Here in the States we celebrate it as a day of Mexican heritage with lots of food and drink. And what's a Mexican celebration without those two party necessities? This traditional Mexican snack/appetizer consists of tortilla chips topped with black beans and queso, placed under the broiler so the cheese turns oozy. It's all topped with chunks of tomato and avocado, sliced scallions, and pickled jalapeños. This party food is meant to go with drinks, so grab some Margaritas and dig in.

Black Bean Nachos

Note: I prefer cooking my own black beans from dried, but canned black beans would also work in this recipe. Be sure to drain the canned beans and rinse under water.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon chile powder
1 large garlic clove, grated
2 cups cooked black beans, recipe follows
1/2 cup bean cooking liquid or chicken broth
6 ounces tortilla chips
1 cup shredded Queso Quesadilla or Monterey Jack
1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
1 Haas avocado, cubed
1/4 cup pickled sliced jalapeños
4 scallions, sliced on the bias
cilantro leaves, for garnish
crema or sour cream, for serving
lime wedges, for serving

Preheat oven to broil.

Warm oil in a sauté pan set over medium-high heat. Add chile powder and garlic. Sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add black beans and broth. Simmer until most liquid evaporates. Mash a portion of the beans.

Place tortilla chips in a large baking dish. Top with beans and cheese. Place under broiler just until cheese is melted, no more than 5 minutes.

Scatter tomato, avocado, and scallions over tortillas. Garnish with cilantro and serve with crema and lime wedges. Yield: 6 appetizer portions.

Black Beans

1/2 pound dried black beans
5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
fine sea salt

Soak beans in 4 cups of cold water overnight. The next day, drain beans and rinse. Combine beans, stock, and bay leaf in a pot set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, partially cover, and reduce to a simmer. Cook until beans are tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Season with salt and pepper halfway through the cooking time. Discard bay leaf. Drain beans. Yield: 4 cups beans.