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Recipe: Black Bean & Butternut Squash Chilli

Black beans: tasty AND good for you. Photo from

We’re all about the healthy eating here at the moment (except for the occasional lapses when we will be stuffing jellies into our faces, obviously).  I am keen to expand my repertoire of healthy dishes this Spring, and have been poking around in both my store cupboard and my favourite food websites for new inspiration.

One of the things I found was a bag of dried black beans. They’re quite hard to find in Dublin and once I got them (in Liston’s on Camden St) I put them in the cupboard and forgot about them.  Silly really, because black beans are one of the tastiest of all the pulses and are very high in fibre and protein.

I found an interesting recipe from Epicurious for Black Bean & Butternut Squash Chilli, and tried it out over the weekend.  The recipe needed a little bit of tweaking – as with any site with user-submitted recipes, it’s always a good idea to read the comments on the recipe and pay attention to the person who points out that if you don’t soak the beans first, the dish will take seven hours to cook.  Also, the original used bulgur wheat, which I didn’t have, so I left it out and served the chilli with brown basmati rice instead.

My version of the chilli is below – it turned out to be very satisfying and delicious, with the beans generating a gorgeous rich black sauce.  Liston’s stock dried black beans and the Epicure food range does a canned version, which you can get in some supermarkets. If you know of any other sources, please comment below.

Black Bean & Butternut Squash Chilli

Ingredients (makes 4 helpings)

  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 200g dried black beans, soaked overnight in water
  • Half a butternut squash, skinned and cut into chunks
  • 1 400g can tomatoes
  • 2 chipotle chillis, finely chopped (I didn’t have any, so used standard red chillis and added a half teaspoon of smoked paprika for a smoky taste, and then used chipotle hot sauce as one of the trimmings)
  • 2½ tsps chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsps oregano
  • Olive oil
  • Toppings – natural yogurt, jalapenos, salsa, hot sauce, fresh coriander, etc


  1. Sweat the onion and garlic in the olive oil for about 3 minutes until soft.
  2. Add the can of tomatoes, the spices, the beans and about 400ml water. Bring to the boil and then back to a simmer.
  3. Keep on a low heat with the pan covered with lid slightly ajar and simmer until the beans are tender, which should take about 1.5 – 2 hours. Add more water if the sauce starts getting too dry.
  4. Once beans are cooked, add in the chunks of butternut squash and cook for about a further 20 minutes until the squash is also tender.
  5. Season with salt and pepper.  Serve with brown rice with toppings of natural yogurt, jalapenos, salsa and coriander.

You could also use this chilli as the base for nachos or the filling for a burrito.  Red or yellow peppers would work as a replacement for the butternut squash, or could be added alongside it. Or as the beans are quite overwhelming in flavour and colour, you could simply roast your butternut squash with some spices and serve it as a side.


  1. I know it’s not the best shop, but I always had good luck finding dried beans – including black beans, kidney beans, cannellini beans, chick peas, etc. – in Tesco. They’re usually in the aisle with tinned soups and beans (Tesco has multiple “whole food” / “health food” sections) and there’s usually a good selection of grains (bulgur, quinoa, couscous, wild rice, etc.) there as well.

    Otherwise, check Asia Market — I don’t think I ever found dried black beans there, but they have almost every other bean imaginable!

  2. The Asian Food Co. on Mary St in Dublin has a great selection of grains and pulses too, both dried and tinned.

  3. The Mediterranean shop on Thomas St beside Vicar Street sells tins of black beans for 99cs. Great shop with great selection of all sorts of tinned and dry pulses.