Black Bean Salsa

Do you collect souvenirs when you travel? My grandparents have always traveled a lot, and when I was a kid, my grandma would bring me back one of those decorative/collector spoons from different states. I had quite a collection going! I was never big on collecting anything specific myself – a t-shirt here, a mug there – up until a few years ago. I think it started during a long weekend trip that my Chief Culinary Consultant and I took to the Outer Banks. We were in a gift shop and I came across some regional cookbooks that caught my eye. I bought three, and I’ve never looked back. Every new place I visit, I try to make a point to get to a bookstore and check out the “local” shelf of the cookbook section. I always find hidden gems! I love picking up regional cookbooks that reflect the area I’m visiting. Plus, a cookbook is so much more functional than another over-sized t-shirt in a dresser drawer that is slowly being taken over by Penguins hockey apparel, right?!

I hit the jackpot on our last trip to Florida this past March, when I found two cookbooks to snatch up. One is a Junior League compilation from Boca Raton and the other (where this recipe originates) is all about Latin American, Cuban, and Caribbean cuisine. I thought about a black bean salsa last summer, but never got around to making it, so when I saw it in the cookbook, there was no doubt I needed to make it. My Chief Culinary Consultant and I DVR Dan Le Batard is Highly Questionable on ESPN each afternoon (you know I’m a sports junkie!). It’s a show hosted by Dan Le Batard, but the best part is that his dad, Papi, is his co-host. Papi totally makes the show, love him! They are a Cuban family living in Miami, and almost every day Papi mentions black beans and rice. How he loves it, how he ate it, how he’s going to eat it. I was especially excited to get my black bean salsa inspiration from a cookbook while down in his little corner of the world. No doubt Papi would approve of this salsa!

Once back from Florida with a gazillion pages in the cookbook doggy-eared, I made it a point to get the black bean salsa on this summer’s calendar. Obviously, I didn’t want to waste any time, so I made it on Memorial Day. It was completely gone… on Memorial Day. It lasted less than 12 hours. Did I mention that only two of us ate it? That should tell you all you need to know!

The amount of flavor and texture in this salsa is truly outstanding. There are so many fresh ingredients; it’s bright and flavorful, and actually healthy (if you don’t count the chips)!  The recipe starts with soaking dried beans and then cooking them in a derived stock of vegetables and seasonings. Believe it or not, this was my first time ever working with dried beans. (I’ll wait while you pick your jaw up off the floor.) I’ve always been an “open the can, rinse, drain, use” type. Although it took time, I loved soaking and cooking the beans. I got such a sense of satisfaction from it. I knew how they’d be seasoned and that they wouldn’t be drowning in sodium. I sort of felt like Donna Reed… in the best of ways. (I loved Donna Reed on Nick at Nite when I was a kid!) However, if you need something quick, there is a note at the bottom of the recipe about using canned beans and adjusting the seasonings.

This might be the dawning of a new bean era for me. I see soaking, cooking and canning (or freezing) in my future. Do you use canned beans, or do you cook your own?

One year ago: Fruit Dip
Two years ago: Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Three years ago: Cinnamon Raisin Bagels
Four years ago: French Chocolate Brownies

Black Bean Salsa

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Prep Time: 4 hours

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 5 hours


Firm-Cooked Black Beans:
1 pound dried black beans, picked through and rinsed
1 small onion, cut in half
2 ribs celery, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
½ green bell pepper, cored and seeded
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 bouquet garni of 1 bay leaf, 3 sprigs fresh thyme & 3 springs fresh parsley tied in a piece of cheesecloth
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 cups firm-cooked black beans
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced
1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and finely diced
1 poblano chile, seeded and finely diced
½ red bell pepper, cored, seeded and finely diced
½ cup corn kernels (fresh & cooked or frozen & thawed)
½ cup finely diced red onion
½ teaspoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


1. For the Firm-Cooked Black Beans: In a large, heavy stockpot, soak the beans in cold water to cover by at least 3 inches for no less than 4 hours, or overnight.

2. Add the vegetables, garlic, bouquet garni, cumin and oregano to the pot of beans and soaking water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface.

3. Reduce the heat and gently simmer the beans, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until tender, 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. Add water as necessary to keep the beans submerged.

4. Season the beans with salt and pepper during the last 10 minutes of cooking. Drain the beans in a colander and rinse with cold water. Remove and discard the vegetables and bouquet garni. The beans are now ready to be used in the salsa, or they can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

5. Assemble the Salsa: Combine all of the ingredients for the salsa in a mixing bowl and toss well. Add more salt or lime juice as needed. Serve with your favorite tortilla chips.

Note #1: If you do not have cheesecloth for the bouquet garni, you can also use a coffee filter.

Note #2: If you prefer to not cook the beans yourself, you can use 2 cups of canned (rinsed and drained) black beans. If you do this, be sure to taste for seasoning adjustments. You will likely need to use more cumin, salt and pepper.


38 Responses to “Black Bean Salsa”

  1. Amy J on June 1, 2012 at 12:56 am

    This sounds so good…I’ve added it to my recipe list! I love salsa, especially fresh. I used to use canned beans until I cooked my own one time a year or two ago – and I’ve not gone back since! Sometimes after they are cooked, I will just eat them straight from the pot (black beans, pinto beans, etc) they just taste so good! Usually when I am soaking/cooking black beans or pinto beans, I use the 2 or 4 pound bags, use what I need at the time, then freeze the rest in portions that would be sized for various recipes. If I’m going to make a salad or salsa I’ll let them thaw in the fridge for a day or so, otherwise if I’m making soup or chili I just pull them out of the freezer and toss (the brick of beans) in…they thaw/heat up pretty quickly.


  2. Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes on June 1, 2012 at 1:33 am

    I used canned beans but I’d love to try cooking my own. This salsa looks good and it’s probably one thing I wouldn’t feel guilty about eating the entire batch with just my husband and I…. Can’t say that about many things! 🙂


  3. Joan on June 1, 2012 at 4:54 am

    Great cookbook-be sure to try the bubble bread-you’ll never do garlic bread any other way again. Next time you get down to Florida take a trip to Captiva and eat there-it’s an experience.


    • Michelle on June 1st, 2012 at 9:28 am

      Hi Joan, I bookmarked that bubble bread, it sounded awesome! So happy to hear a great review! And I will definitely check out Captiva – thank you for the recommendation!


  4. Ali B on June 1, 2012 at 6:46 am

    Carrots and celery in a salsa? Interesting! I’ll have to try it!


    • Michelle on June 1st, 2012 at 9:34 am

      Hi Ali, They’re actually not in the salsa; you just add them to the pot when you cook the beans (for flavor – like a stock), then you remove them before assembling the salsa.


  5. Mary on June 1, 2012 at 7:20 am

    I cook my own beans. It’s actually really easy, especially if you use a pressure cooker, which reeeaaalllly cuts down on the cooking time.


    • Mary on June 1st, 2012 at 7:21 am

      Oh! I almost forgot — this looks like a really awesome salsa. Great job!!!


  6. Katrina on June 1, 2012 at 7:35 am

    This is soooo full of goodness, I love it!


  7. Catalina @ Cake with Love on June 1, 2012 at 8:16 am

    The salsa looks and sounds very, very good, perfect for my blue corn chips!


  8. Lauren | Hippie Dog Company on June 1, 2012 at 8:46 am

    This looks amazing!! I have generally bought beans in the past, but am going to try cooking/freezing some this summer.

    Do you think this salsa could be canned?


    • Michelle on June 1st, 2012 at 9:37 am

      Hi Lauren, I hesitate to give you a definite yes/no on canning this, as I know there are some guidelines for canning in terms of acidity, etc. that I’m not familiar with. I would recommend checking out some canning resources – either through the Ball website, or your state’s agriculture center. Getting into canning is definitely on my summer list of things to do, though!


  9. Barbara on June 1, 2012 at 9:20 am

    Having spent my teen years in Tampa, FL, I love all things black bean. Can’t wait to try this. I have a recipe on my blog for Cuban Black Beans and rice which is pretty authentic compared to what we ate in Tampa, which you probably know is a very Cuban area of Florida. You start with dried beans — I can’t imagine any Cuban grandma opening a can of beans!


  10. Jennifer on June 1, 2012 at 9:45 am

    I’ve always wanted to make a black bean salsa. Yummy! Mostly I used canned beans, but occasionally I use dried beans and soak them. It depends on the recipe and what kind of flavor I want to accomplish. Plus, it depends on the time element for sure.


  11. sharon on June 1, 2012 at 10:07 am

    I’m really enjoying your Florida inspired recipe’s, since I am from here, and am part Cuban! We have our own family recipe’s, so its fun to compare yours with what my family has been making for years. This may sound weird, but in the summer, when we have fresh mango’s from my mom’s yard, we put diced mango in the black bean salsa. Whatever you do, DO NOT buy a mango from the grocery store….you won’t like it (its kind of like a store bought strawberry compared to a home grown)….and I’m sure you don’t grow mango’s up north, so the next time you come down, try it! Well, if you come in the summer (hot!) because that is when they are harvested. Thanks for the recipe!


  12. Nancy on June 1, 2012 at 10:19 am

    I know this is about salsa but… I remember my mother always having a pot of some kind of beans soaking on the stove. She made an excellent black bean soup, a version of baked beans using dried lima beans, ham and bean soup and even used navy beans in homemade vegtable soup. We never had salsa when I was growing up, but I am sure she would have tried a version of some kind of bean salsa.


  13. Shirley@bells-bakery on June 1, 2012 at 10:21 am

    This salsa looks crazy good! I want to put it on bruschetta,I’d say it would be yum!


  14. Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers on June 1, 2012 at 10:56 am

    Oh my this looks fab!! I can see this going on my tacos!!


  15. Jessica@AKitchenAddiction on June 1, 2012 at 10:57 am

    This looks amazing! Pretty sure it would last less than twelve hours at our house, too! My husband loves salsa, so this is definitely making an appearance at our house soon!


  16. Marcy on June 1, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    Oh Michelle! You read my mind. My oldest sister used to make a version of this and unfortunately I lost the recipe she gave me years ago and did not get it again from her before she passed away in 2008. I was thinking the other day….I need to figure out how she made this Corn, Bean and tomatoey goodness that was her salsa….and here you go and post something that is so similar I think with a few tweaks it will be the same stuff she made.

    Her’s was all done with canned stuff though…I think she used canned black eyed peas, canned black beans, canned white corn, canned yellow corn and canned tomatoes with chiles….the rest I couldn’t remember but I think with your recipe I will be able to make something very close to it! Thanks so much.


  17. DB-The Foodie Stuntman on June 1, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    This sounds good! I like the fact that you cooked dried beans, however my wife might have issues with my backside if I were to eat too much of this, hahaha….


  18. Meghan @ After the Ivy League on June 1, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    I’ve never cooked my own beans before, maybe it’s time I try. This salsa looks delicious, wrapped in a corn tortilla with a dollop of sour cream, delicious dinner!


  19. Katie B. of on June 1, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    This looks fabulous! I love a good salsa, and I love black beans, so you’ve combined two of my favorite things… made better with chips!

    As for using canned/dried beans, I’m almost violently against the canned ones. The cans are BPA lined, and even rinsing doesn’t get rid of that stuff. Plus there’s some weird OCD voice in my mind that says, “Sure, you *think* they soaked those beans in fresh water, but you don’t know for certain, do you? They could’ve put all sorts of chemicals and preservatives in there.”

    So I cook up my dried beans when I get them home and freeze them for future use. Works fine for me.


  20. Stephanie on June 1, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    I need to start collecting more cookbooks! This looks great, thanks!


  21. leslie on June 1, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    Junior League cookbooks rock!!! Love this salsa!


  22. Asmaa@BakeIt on June 1, 2012 at 5:42 pm


    Just wanted to tell you i think your blog/site is amazing! Thank you for all the wonderful content and i love the style/layout of your site.


  23. Amber @ Slim Pickin's Kitchen on June 1, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    Yum! This looks delish. I love black bean salsa!


  24. Dave on June 2, 2012 at 4:53 am

    First of all, this looks delicious! I have been traveling for over 4 months in SE Asia and I can’t tell you how much this makes me salivate. If it were only easier to travel and pick up cook books everywhere I have been I would do it in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, I will have to come back to SE Asia to enjoy all the amazing food here once again! (Currently: Borneo, Malaysia)


  25. Tracy {Pale Yellow} on June 2, 2012 at 7:37 am

    What a great looking salsa! I think I could eat the whole batch with a spoon and call it dinner!


  26. Martha in KS on June 2, 2012 at 9:45 am

    When I was visiting in TX last week, my aunt gave me a bag of cookbooks, including an original Joy of Cooking from the 1930’s & local church group cookbooks. I’m going to enjoy spending time with those.

    When I went to make black bean salsa & found that I was out of black beans, I used garbanzos instead. It was good!


  27. caralyn @ glutenfreehappytummy on June 2, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    what a gorgeous salsa!! i love all the colors!! i’m such a fan of mexican flavors – so fresh and bright! thanks for sharing:)


  28. Jen @ Savory SImple on June 3, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    I love finding new cookbooks while traveling but my collection is starting to overwhelm me! I really need to dig into the Mexican mole book I got in Arizona over Christmas. The salsa looks great!


  29. RavieNomNoms on June 4, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    That looks phenomenal! I love black bean salsas


  30. LabbieLover on December 4, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    I have been making a similar version of this for years, my friends and family gobble it up. One tip a caterer passed along to me that I like is to roast canned corn with red bell peppers liberally sprinked with cumin before adding it to the salsa. This is good when fresh corn isn’t available, I am sure frozen, thawed would also work. It really deepens the flavors. Yum!


  31. Suzanne M. on May 7, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    I made this for our Cinco potluck — turned out great! I used canned black beans, but chose the “Seasoned” variety — rinsed them and they worked well. Used half the quantity of jalapenos (since I didn’t buy enough), but it was still a fresh, lovely dish. Thanks!


  32. Paola on September 4, 2014 at 9:27 am

    Definitely going to try this one tonight. Thanks !


  33. graniet tafelblad on April 4, 2015 at 6:54 am

    This is great ! It really shows me where to expand my blog. I think that sometime in the future I might try to write a book to go along with my blog, but we will see.Good post with useful tips and ideas.I LIKE YOUR SITE THANK YOU FOR SHARING.


  34. Ann Pierce on September 3, 2016 at 9:23 pm

    This the easiest soup I have ever made and my boyfriend loved it! We have also made some changes but the end result was still really good and I’ll definitely be making it again.


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