This delicious vegan recipe makes the heirloom Rio Zape bean really shine. The cocoa powder and cinnamon accentuate the natural rich chocolaty flavor of the beans and the whole Piment d'Espelette chilis deliver a distinctive sweat spicy flavor that makes the dish have just the right amount of heat. The pickled onions provide a a pop of acid that brings all the flavors together. The Rio Zape is one of the beans that is offered in the bean and grain club, you can substitute black tepary or midnight black beans if you don't have them.

Heirloom Bean and Grain of the Month Club


  • 1 pounddried Rio Zape beans rinsed, or black beans
  • 5dried whole chiles (we used 4 Whole Piment d'Espelette and 1 ancho for a mild heat)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 5cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspooncumin seeds (or 1/2 teaspoon of dried cumin)
  • 1/2 teaspoonfennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoonunsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspooncinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil or other neutral flavored oil
  • 3 1/2 cupswater
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
  • Pickled red onion (see below)
  • vegan sour cream for serving
  • cilantro for serving
  • lime wedges for serving
  • tortillas

Bean Directions:

1. Toast the chilis in a dry skillet over medium high heat until they puff up a bit and become fragrant. Remove from heat, snip off stems with kitchen shears and empty out seeds. Place toasted chilis in 2 cups of boiling water and let soak.

2. Toast garlic until getting black around the edges and then set aside.

3. Put cumin seeds and fennel seeds in skillet and toast until fragrant.

4. Spoon the softened chilis into a blender and one cup of the soaking liquid. Add garlic, cumin, fennel, cocoa, cinnamon, tomato paste. Blend on high until it becomes a smooth paste.

5. Coat the bottom of your instant pot or dutch oven with avocado oil. Add the chili paste and sauté until it thickens and darkens a bit in color.

6. Add the dry Rio Zape beans, 2 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt.

7. If using a pressure cooker, seal and cook on high for 1 hour allowing the steam to escape naturally. If cooking stovetop, cover and bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 90 minutes. 

8. Taste the beans for texture. If not soft and silky continue cooking. Add salt as needed. 

Pickled Onion:

½ cups rice wine, white wine or cider vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon fennel seed

1 red onion, sliced

Pack red onion slices into glass canning jar and sprinkle with fennel seeds. Bring vinegar, sugar and salt to a boil until sugar and salt dissolve (about 1 minute).  Pour vinegar mixture over onion and allow to marinate at least 1 hour and up to a week. 


1. Warm the tortillas over a hot skillet with no oil until they begin to brown,

2. Spoon beans over the tortillas, top with sour cream, pickled onion and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.

heirloom bean and grain club

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