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Vegan Frijoles Borrachos (Drunken Beans)
with Pico de Gallo Salsa
by Shannon Joyner, Garden Companion Editor

Buckwheat waffles with butter, syrup and blueberriesFall in Northern California means hot days and cool nights, interspersed with gentle rainstorms reminding us that winter is on its way. The signs of a changing season—the scent of those first rainstorms, when the air is still warm enough to allow plants to release their volatile oils, the flocks of geese calling to each other as they fly south to winter nesting grounds—bring a feeling of joy and expectation. And it’s finally time for soup again! After a long day of outdoor projects before the rain blew in this evening, I’m exhausted. I don’t want to cook, but I’m longing for a warm, nourishing bowl of something delicious. My version of the traditional Mexican dish Frijoles Borrachos (drunken beans, inspired by frijoles-borrachos) is quick, brothy, gently spicy, and packed full of protein. Instead of bacon, this vegan version uses smoked paprika and vegetable bouillon to provide rich umami flavor. Served with Pico de Gallo (“beak of the rooster” aka salsa fresca), this is fast comfort food that is good for body and soul. You can make it without beer if you prefer: just add additional broth and adjust the seasoning, and maybe add a few drops of bitters to mimic the taste of hops. I used canned beans and tomatoes because I was in a hurry, but dried beans will absolutely work if you plan ahead, soaking them overnight; use 1 cup of dried beans, increase cooking liquid by 2.5 cups, adjust seasoning, and simmer, covered, until tender, about 2.5 hours, stirring occasionally. You can also ~2 cups of roasted, peeled and diced fresh or frozen homegrown tomatoes in place of the canned version.

Buckwheat waffles with butter, syrup and blueberriesIngredients (~4-5 servings)

2 15-oz cans of pinto beans, drained
2 T olive oil
1 cup finely diced onion
2 T chopped pickled jalapenos and 1 T of
their juice (adjust spiciness to taste)
1 T minced garlic
1.5 cups dark beer
1/2 cup vegetable broth or water
1 15-oz can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 vegetable bouillon cube
1 T each brown sugar and molasses
1 tsp each dried Mexican oregano, ancho
chili powder, salt, and ground cumin
½ tsp each onion powder, ground coriander,
and smoked paprika
¼ tsp ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

In a large pot over medium heat, heat olive oil until it shimmers, and sauté the onion until softened, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic, pickled jalapenos, and spices and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add tomato, beer, broth, bouillon cube, brown sugar, molasses, and salt. Stir, scraping any brown bits off the bottom of the pot.

Add beans, stir to combine, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, partially cover pan, and simmer gently for ~½ hour or until the liquid has reduced a bit, but the beans are still fairly soupy, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, stir in the lime juice, and taste for seasoning. Serve in bowls, topped with pico de gallo and sour cream, with warm tortillas on the side (or over polenta!). Keeps in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Reheat over low heat, stirring often.

Pico de Gallo

1 cup each chopped fresh cilantro, finely
diced onion, and finely diced tomato
1 T chopped pickled jalapenos
1 T olive oil
1/4 tsp salt, to taste
Juice of 1 lime

Mix all ingredients in non-reactive bowl, and taste for seasoning. Best served the day it’s made, but will keep for a day covered in the refrigerator.


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