Latin Cuisine

Some of the trendiest flavors on contemporary tables are coming from Latin America. And not just from Mexico, which has long influenced north-of-the-border menus, but from Peru, Brazil, Argentina and the Caribbean. Think mojitos and caipirinhas, ceviche and chimichurri sauce. Argentine steak restaurants, or churrascarias, are opening in major cities, and Chilean wines are riding high.

Trend watchers say we have not seen the crest of this wave. To participate without much risk or expense, look to beans. They can provide the Latin accent to a roast chicken or pork chop, giving your customers the chance to explore within their comfort zone.

For inspiration, let’s take a Latin American tour, looking at a few of the principal bean dishes.

Frijoles borrachos: “Drunken” pinto beans cooked with bacon, oregano, and dark beer.

Sopa tarasca: Creamy pink bean or pinto bean soup garnished with fried tortilla strips and cubes of cheese.

Tacu-tacu: A thick pan-fried cake of rice and beans, often topped with a fried egg.

Mashed black beans served with arepas (thick corn cakes).

Porotos granados: Cranberry beans stewed with tomato, winter squash, corn, and paprika.

Feijoada: Black beans with smoked pork, sausages, and pig’s feet, served with rice and kale.

Feijão com Leite de Coco: Pureed black beans with coconut milk and dendê oil.

Feijão em Salada: Great Northern beans, cooked and cooled, then dressed with tomato, bell pepper, onion, cilantro, and vinaigrette.

Frijoles rojos: Pink beans cooked with ham, tomato, onions, and diced plantains.

Frijoles negros: Cubans rarely have a meal without black beans simmered with onion, bell pepper, cumin, and oregano.

Moros y cristianos: Black beans simmered pilaf-style with white rice and cumin.

Bean Burrito for Cafeteria Service
This large-scale recipe meets the requirements for the National School Lunch Program for K-12 schools. One enchilada provides 2 M/MA and 3.5 grains.
Submitted by Stephanie Mullin at Brandywine School District
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An example of the pork and pumpkin empanadas with black beans and queso anejo
Pork and Pumpkin Empanadas With Black Beans and Queso Anejo
Chef Bill Briwa from The Culinary Institute of America prepares empanadas stuffed with black beans, pumpkin, pork and chipotle. For added flavor, he cooks the black beans with smoky chipotle. To download a Spanish translation of this recipe click here.
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An image of the roasted halibut with spicy black bean cakes recipe
Roasted Halibut with Spicy Black Bean Cakes
In this Latin-inspired dish, the silky richness of the halibut is offset by earthy and spicy black bean cakes. Sweet potatoes temper and balance the heat from the jalapeños in the bean cakes. A squeeze of lime right before serving is a great way to brighten all of these flavors. To download a Spanish translation of this recipe click here.
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An image of the Brazilian bean fritters recipe
Brazilian Bean Fritters
These creamy-on-the-inside, crispy-on-the-outside fritters can be served as an appetizer or side dish. The traditional Brazilian dish uses black-eyed peas, but we’ve created a version that uses white beans for a creamier texture.
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An image of the Torta with Black Bean Puree, Roasted Crimini Mushrooms, and Chipotle Mayonnaise recipe
Mexican Torta with Black Bean Purée, Roasted Crimini Mushrooms, and Chipotle Mayonnaise
Some of the trendiest flavors on contemporary tables are coming from Latin America. This Mexican-inspired sandwich is filled with flavorful puree of black beans as the main protein. Mushrooms, spicy chipotle mayonnaise, avocado and pickled jalapeño give this torta a unique and delicious flavor profile that your customers will love.
To download a Spanish translation of this recipe click here.
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An image of the spicy black bean and chicken tostadas with avocado, lettuce, and sour cream
Spicy Black Bean and Chicken Tostadas with Avocado, Lettuce and Sour Cream
This tostada is topped with spicy black beans, chicken fajita strips, avocado, tomatoes and shredded lettuce and cheese. The same toppings could also be used for a healthier take on nachos. Chef Samuel developed this recipe for a high school food service audience.
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