From LEARN TO COOK 25 SOUTHERN CLASSICS 3 WAYS: TRADITIONAL, CONTEMPORARY, INTERNATIONAL by Jennifer Brulé. Copyright © 2016 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher.

Makes 8–12 servings

Black beans have been deemed a “superfood,” and rightly so. Just one cup will fill you up with nutritional goodness and keep you fueled for hours.

This recipe is made even healthier by incorporating sweet potatoes and tomatoes (two other superfoods). The ginger and toasted sesame oil add Asian flavors. Whenever I serve this to a group, it’s a hands-down favorite. It makes a gorgeous side dish with grilled chicken, but by switching out the chicken broth for vegetable broth you can turn it into an impressive vegan main course.


1 pound dried black beans

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

2-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped (about 2 heaping tablespoons)

3 fat garlic cloves, minced or pressed

1 large sweet potato, peeled and shredded (about 4 cups)

1 navel orange, stem end trimmed off, the rest cut into quarters

1/2 cup tomato purée or crushed tomatoes

8 cups chicken or vegetable broth

2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt

1 tablespoon sriracha

5 fat (or 7 skinny) green onions, thinly sliced

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Pick through the dried beans and remove any broken beans or small pebbles (beans are mechanically harvested and sometimes carry along debris). Place the beans in an 8-quart (or very large) pot and cover with water by 3 inches. Cover the pot and bring the liquid to a boil over medium-high heat. Uncover the pot, stir, and continue to boil for 2 minutes. Cover the pot and turn off the heat. Allow the beans to sit in the hot liquid undisturbed for 1 hour.
  2. Drain the beans in a colander, then rinse and drain them again. Rinse out the cooking pot. Pour the beans back in the pot and fill with enough water to cover the beans by 2 inches. Cover, bring to a simmer, then uncover and simmer for 1 hour. Drain and rinse the beans and set aside. Rinse the cooking pot.
  3. Pour the sesame oil into the pot and set over medium-high heat. When the oil starts dimpling and is fragrant, add the ginger and garlic, stir well, and cook for 1 minute. Add the beans, sweet potato, orange, tomato purée, and broth. Cover, bring to a strong simmer; uncover, lower the heat to medium-low or low, and simmer gently for 45 minutes. To keep the temperature constant, you can put the lid back on and crack it as needed—you just want to make sure there is a constant, gentle bubble.
  4. Remove the orange pieces and discard and add the salt and sriracha. Stir in the green onions and cilantro and serve.