Flavorful Vegetarian Beans from Scratch

by Mary on December 18, 2011


onion, and cilantro tied with a string

yellow onion and bunch of cilantro

You know how you get a big bunch of cilantro, use a little in a recipe, and the rest is just hanging around waiting to go bad? With a pound of red kidney beans or black beans, an onion, and the bunch of cilantro, this recipe solves that problem. And you’ll get a pot of beans that is flavorful right off the bat.

Soaking the beans overnight is ideal when you’re really organized, but if you are just thinking of tonight’s dinner today, you can still make this recipe with the quick soak method. Instead of soaking the beans overnight, bring them to a boil in a big pot of water, simmer for a few minutes, then turn off the flame and let the beans sit for an hour. At the end of the hour, they will be just as ready to cook as if you’d started the day before.

Another little tip is to tie the bunch of cilantro together with a clean string before you add it to the pot. That makes the cilantro easy to remove at the end. Add a couple of whole garlic cloves, too, if you want. Here’s the cilantro and onion in the pot with the soaked beans ready to go:

red kidney beans, cilantro, and onion in the pot

kidney beans, onion, and cilantro in the pot


The detailed recipe:

Flavorful Beans from Scratch
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This recipe will take care of that bunch of cilantro you have in your vegetable drawer and produce a flavorful pot of beans for whatever recipe you have in mind.
Recipe type: Vegetarian Basic
Serves: 5
  • 1 lb., or about 2 cups, dried red or black beans
  • 1 bunch cilantro, tied together with a clean string
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped in half
  • 3 peeled cloves garlic, optional
  • salt to taste (1 tsp or more)
  1. Put the beans in the pot with enough water that the water line is several inches higher than the level of the beans, at least twice as high.
  2. Soak overnight.
  3. (Or use the quick soak method. Bring beans and water to a boil, turn off heat, let sit for an hour.)
  4. Drain soaking water.
  5. Place the tied bunch of cilantro and the halves of the onion in the pot.
  6. (Optionally add 3 peeled garlic cloves to the pot).
  7. Bring to a boil. Then simmer gently for about an hour.
  8. Cook time will vary depending on the age and variety of dried beans you are using, from about 50 minutes to an hour and a half.
  9. When beans are cooked or almost cooked, add salt to taste.
  10. Yield will also vary, but will be around 6 cups for a pound of dried beans.


Please let me know how you liked this recipe in the comments below. I’d love to hear your own tips and variations for making beans.

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