Caraotas Negras (Venezuelan Black Beans)

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Venezuelans know how to make a good pot of black beans.  Mmmm, nothing like a pot of sweet, smoky, salty, hearty black beans simmering on the stovetop.  Caraotas Negras are very versatile as they can be served as a side dish, over rice or stuffed into cornmeal arepas.
And when black beans are this delicious and this easy to make then they are a must in my book.  Just a little chopping and a little spice and boom-tasty black beans!

WHAT YOU NEED:

-1-2 tablespoons of oil;
– 2 slices of vegan or vegetarian bacon, diced;
– ¼ onion, chopped;
– ¼ bell pepper, chopped;
-2 cloves of garlic;
– ½ teaspoon of cumin;
-2 cups of cooked black beans or 1 15.5 oz. can of beans;
– ½ cup of vegetable stock (optional)
– ½ teaspoon of brown sugar;
-salt;
-queso blanco (optional but basically any soft, mild white cheese will work)

WHAT YOU DO:

In a medium saucepan cook bacon for 2-3 minutes or until it begins to get some color.  Add onion and bell pepper and sauté until onions are translucent.

starting

Add garlic and cumin and give a good stir around the pot.  Once garlic is fragrant add beans, stock, brown sugar and salt. The addition of the broth obviously makes the beans more soup like.  Leave out the stock if you prefer a thicker end result.  Bring to a boil then lower heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.

in pot

Top beans with cheese, if desired and serve.

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