A couple of weeks ago–when it was almost 90 here in Portland–you couldn’t have force-fed me a hearty, warm bean dish. Even though I am a huge fan of comforting bowls of beans, I tend to only crave recipes such as this during the colder months, or when it hasn’t stopped raining for days. This week, however, has been quite windy and downright chilly at times, and I have found myself reaching for nourishing meals like this molé.
Far from being authentic, this is a recipe I have been making for years. What it lacks in authenticity it makes up for in flavor, and also just happens to be a cinch to prepare. My clients all love it. This time around, I decided to throw caution to the wind, and do a little ingredient-swapping. My gamble paid off in spades. This may have been the most delicious version of molé ever to grace my Instant Pot (time-saver extraordinaire, by the way, but we can discuss that some other time). I swapped the usual dark chocolate and ground toasted almonds for a Honey Mama’s Mayan Spice Cacao-Nectar bar, and voila! Magic happened. What I ended up with was a slightly spicy, flavor-rich, nourishing dish that comforted my body like a warm, soft blanket.
Knowing Portland and it’s quirky spring weather patterns, I am guessing there will be at least a few more cool, rainy days coming our way. I know everyone here is waiting with bated breath for the arrival of summer, but I wouldn’t mind having another evening where I could put on my favorite sweater, pour myself a glass of red wine, and devour a bowl of this molé. I may even keep my fingers crossed for days just like that.
- 4 cups cooked black beans (see Tips below for recommendations)
- 2 cups sweet potato, cut into ½-inch chunks
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 hot peppers, minced (see Tips below for recommendations)
- 3-4 roma tomatoes, roughly chopped (about 2 cups)
- 2 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 1 tsp. chipotle powder
- 1 tsp. cumin
- ½ tsp. coriander
- ¼ tsp. cinnamon
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 2.5 ounces Honey Mama’s Mayan Spice Cacao-Nectar Bar, roughly chopped
- 2 c. vegetable broth, optional
- 3 cups spinach, roughly chopped
- Optional toppings: toasted almonds or pumpkin seeds, chopped cilantro, avocado
- Heat your oven to 375. Toss the sweet potato with enough olive oil to coat, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread out in a single layer on a baking sheet, and roast for about 20 minutes, or until lightly browned.
- In a soup pot, heat 1 T. olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, and cook until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and peppers, and cook until soft, about 2-3 minutes more.
- Add the spices and tomatoes, and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the cooked sweet potatoes, chopped chocolate, black beans, and vegetable broth, if using. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for about 30 minutes.
- Stir in spinach, and cook for 5 minutes, or until spinach wilts. Adjust to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Serve over rice, quinoa, polenta, or with warm corn tortillas on the side.
- I believe in squeezing as much nutrition as possible from my ingredients, so I am a huge fan of beans that have been properly soaked before cooking. You can read more about the benefit of soaked beans here. In a nutshell, soak your dried beans in 4x the amount of water for 18-24 hours, adding 1 T. raw apple cider vinegar per cup of beans. Drain and rinse well, fill pot with fresh water, and cook with a strip of kombu.
- Jalapeño peppers are easy to find, and a great choice for this molé. Sometimes I like to sub poblano peppers or habañero peppers for a different flavor profile. You can even use whole dried chilies, such as ancho or New Mexico chilies, that have been softened by soaking for 3-4 hours in warm water.
- Adding the vegetable broth makes the molé more like a stew. If you prefer it to be thicker, simply omit the broth. If you decide not to use the broth, watch closely and stir occasionally while simmering to keep the ingredients from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
- This recipe is very forgiving. Sometimes I sub carrots, winter squash or pumpkin for the sweet potatoes. Kale or chard can be used instead of spinach. You can also vary the beans, using pinto beans, or other types of heirloom beans such as anasazi, orca, rattlesnake or cranberry.
- If you have an Instant Pot, you can use the sauté function to cook the onions, peppers, and garlic. Add the remaining ingredients, give it a good stir, cover, and use the soup function to finish. Easy peasy.
Makes 4 servings