Black Bean + Corn Chilaquiles


I grew up in a town where purchasing tamales from a random kid selling them out of the family car in the Walmart parking lot was a completely normal and legit means of acquiring them. Growing up, there were more Mexican restaurants than I could count, at least two full-size Hispanic grocery stores, multiple panaderías, a carnicería, and many other specialty stores. Suffice it to say, I grew up eating a lot of amazing Mexican food and it’s this type of food that I associate with home.

My favorite place to eat when back for a visit is at the taco wagon. There are actually several, but there is one that everyone knows about when a trip to the taco-wagon is mentioned. It is a slightly sketchy-looking truck that sells the exact same thing at the same price as what I began purchasing 10+ years ago in high school. It’s a place where there’s always a wait, and all the locals can be found, from the hispanics to the farmers to the visitors back in town for a couple days to the locals that never left.


Tacos are our ultimate fall-back food for busy days and we eat them in all sorts of variations. I won’t even attempt to make a taco that tries to compete with a taco-wagon taco, however, and all the thrown together versions we eat are hardly worthy of a recipe. So when The Recipe Redux challenged us to take a good look into the freezer, cupboards, and pantry and find an ingredient or two that had been forgotten for this month’s challenge, I took a good look at all the ingredients that needed to be used, naturally skipped over the fish sauce and wasabi, and gravitated right towards the makings for Mexican-food.


William bought me a giant bag of tortilla chips last summer when I was running a lot and craving salt. They’ve been hanging around the back of the pantry since then because I forgot about them when the weather turned last fall and I never got back to them. They’ve since turned slightly stale.

They were perfectly in need for being made into a dish I’ve been meaning to make for months, Chilaquiles. Oddly enough, I did not grow up eating Chilaquiles. It wasn’t until a couple years ago that I had even heard of them. Basically, they are a way to use up stale corn tortillas and are cooked in a sauce with meats or vegetables, or scrambled with eggs. Most variations contain eggs, cheese, and/or chicken. I decided to forego all of those ingredients because I wanted a super tasty meal that can be made with only a few pantry staples, quickly.


This variation fits the bill because it contains several ingredients already on hand: frozen corn, diced tomatoes, tortilla chips, black beans, and a dried poblano pepper.


Black Bean + Corn Chilaquiles, serves 4-5

These can be made even easier by using canned black beans and enchilada sauce, but you will compromise flavor. I tend to make big batches of black beans using this simple recipe. I tossed the poblano pepper into the pot, adding even more rich undertones, and slow-cooked it for the better part of a day. It sounds slightly time-consuming but we eat them for multiple meals quite often because they’re super good! 

1 medium onion, diced

1 bunch of kale, stems removed and chopped

2+ cups tortilla chips

2 cups cooked black beans

2 cups frozen corn

1 batch of spicy tomato sauce, below

cilantro, to serve

lime wedges, to serve

salsa, to serve

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • In a medium sauté pan, cook onion until slightly soft, about 5-8 minutes. Toss in the kale and cook just until it wilts. Remove from heat.
  • In a large mixing bowl, toss together the chips, beans, corn, sauce, and cooked onion and kale. Use your hands and mix gently so as not to break the chips too much.
  • Turn the whole lot into a medium-sized baking dish.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the mixture is heated through and simmering.
  • Remove from the oven and serve with cilantro, lime wedges, and salsa.

Spicy Tomato Sauce

1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes

2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbs. chili powder

1 tsp. garlic salt

1/4 tsp. onion powder

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

1/4 tsp. dried oregano

1/4 tsp. dried coriander

1/2 tsp. paprika

1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. black pepper

  • In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil and garlic over medium-high heat. Saute garlic until just beginning to brown, about 30 seconds.
  • Stir in the tomatoes and spices.
  • Bring to a boil and then turn down to medium-low. Simmer for about 45 minutes to thicken a bit and have flavors develop. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. At this point, the sauce can be pureed if you’d like a smooth sauce, but I opted to leave it slightly chunky.

Black Beans, the Last Tomatoes–And Moving On

                                                              When to the heart of man
                                                                     Was it ever less than a treason
                                                              To go with the drift of things, 
                                                                      To yield with a grace to reason, 
                                                              And bow and accept the end
                                                                      Of a love or a season?
                                                                                        -Robert Frost
 We knew the end was coming.  It’s been a while now and we’ve reluctantly given in.  It is time to move on.  Just like summer has finally given way to beautiful, glorious, crisp and radiant fall, it is time to move on from Corvallis, my favorite little (American)  city.  And while I may still work here, the living part will be sorely missed.  I think about all we’re giving up–the ease, comfort and sense of belonging to this place.  But we are also gaining wonderful things by leaving.  A lovely cottage in the country.  A little less worry off our shoulders.  A sense of beginning too.

This is how I’ve felt about the last wisps of summer that were thrown at our door.  The 20 pounds of late season tomatoes given before we’d have no more for many months.  The pots of tomato sauce.  W’s grandma’s spaghetti sauce.  Bruchetta on homemade bread gone wrong but still deliciously perfect.  Savory tomato herb crepes.  And Indian stew, the recipe gleaned from my favorite restaurant.

Because the scurry of using the last of summer’s bounty is fully upon us, and it truly is turning to the loveliest of seasons–crisp and blistery and beautifully gray–I thought I would share a dish we can’t get enough of right now–black beans and lovely salsa.  This one is simple and warming, so come in and enjoy after a long day outside.  You won’t be sorry you tried the deep complexity of flavors wafting from such a simple pot.

Creamy Black Beans, adapted from Martha Stewart
4 cups water, plus more if needed
1/2 lb. (8 oz.) dried black beans, picked over, rinsed, and drained
1/2 a jalapeño chile, halved and seeded
1 medium onion, quartered
2 1/2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Rinse beans and let soak for at least eight hours.
2. Bring water, beans, jalapeño, onions, garlic, vinegar, 1/2 tablespoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper to a simmer in a medium saucepan.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender, creamy and falling apart.  The onion and chile pepper should be broken down and indistinguishable at this point.  Add water as needed throughout the cooking process.  We like our beans to be REALLY creamy; this takes between 4-6 hours.  Season with salt and pepper.
Fresh Tomato Salsa, adapted from The Best Light Recipe
1 1/2 pounds ripe garden tomatoes, diced
1/2 a jalapeño chile, seeded and diced
1/2 cup minced onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro leaves.
1/2 tsp. salt
Pinch ground black pepper
Juice from 1/2 a lime
1. Place diced tomatoes in a mesh sieve over a large bowl.  Set aside and drain for 30 minutes.  As the tomatoes drain, add the jalapeño, onion, garlic, and cilantro.  Shake the sieve to drain off the excess tomato juice; discard juice.
2. Add more jalapeño seeds and ribs to taste. I like mine a touch between mild and medium.
3. Transfer the drained tomatoes and vegetables to a blender.  Blend for a few seconds until it reaches your desired consistency.  
4. Transfer back to the mesh sieve and drain mixture again.  Now put salsa in a serving dish, add salt and pepper, and lime juice.  Serve with black beans, tortilla chips, brown rice, more cilantro and lime if desired, and tortillas.