Black Bean Sauce over Pasta

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I like to cook. Really, I do. It’s just that I don’t seem to actually do it very often during the week. I come home late from work and don’t feel like making anything more complicated than a hotdog or peanut-butter sandwich. And when I do come home ready to cook, I often have nothing to cook, because I haven’t gone to the grocery store. I was looking through the cupboard trying to find something other than pasta and tomato sauce to eat when I noticed a can of black beans. I like refried beans, and thought a smoother, more liquidy version would be good as a pasta sauce. Then I ordered a pizza.

But I eventually came back to the idea, and here’s the result. It’s low fat, yet tasty and satisfying. With the beans and whole wheat pasta, it’s a good source of fiber and complete protein. Everything except the yogurt can keep for months, so it’s forgiving of my grocery shopping lapses.

By the way, the spice blend is an excellent coating for sautéed shrimp.


  • 2 tsp cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced fine
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1 tbsp spice blend (see below)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup white wine (yes, it’s boxed wine – it’s better than you think)
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced fine
  • 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 oz whole wheat pasta
  • Greek yogurt, 2% (sour cream if you must)
  • Shredded cheddar, Colby, or jack cheese


  1. Sweat onions, lightly salted, over medium-low heat.
  2. When onions are soft and fragrant, put well-salted water on to boil; add pasta once boiling and cook according to directions while continuing to prepare sauce.
  3. Add garlic to pan and stir until fragrant.
  4. Add spice blend and stir for 15 seconds.
  5. Push onions and garlic to sides of pan and add tomato paste.
  6. Once tomato paste is lightly browned, add white wine and deglaze pan.
  7. Add chipotles and a tablespoon of adobo sauce.
  8. Add 2/3 cup of pasta water to sauce (add more water if you prefer a thinner sauce).
  9. Add chipotles and a tablespoon of adobo sauce.
  10. Add beans, raise heat to medium, and let simmer until pasta is done.
  11. Blend bean mixture until smooth.

Serve over pasta. Add cheese while hot enough to melt it. Serve with yogurt on the side. Garnish with anything that seems good – jalapenos, chopped green or white onions, tomatoes – anything that’s good on a taco will work here. Serves two.

Spice Blend

  • 3 parts ground cumin
  • 3 parts paprika
  • 3 parts chili powder
  • 1 part black pepper
  • 1 part onion powder
  • 1 part garlic powder
  • 1/4 part ground cayenne pepper
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