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Black Bean and Plantain Stew in a bowl with condiments

Hearty Black Bean and Plantain Stew with Pepita Pesto

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 3 reviews
  • Author: Karen
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 45
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Main course
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Latin
  • Diet: Vegetarian


Black beans, sweet plantains and veggies power this nourishing stew. Warm and smokey spices season it perfectly. Serve with fragrant rice and a dollop of pesto for a vegetarian feast. This recipe is inspired by Pinch of Yum’s Plantain and Pinto Stew with Aji Verde. I use different beans and sauce with pesto and build a sofrito from the aromatics.


Units Scale


  • 1.5 cups rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
  • two 14-oz cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups vegetable broth, low sodium
  • 2 plantains (medium ripe), peeled and sliced into half-moon shapes
  • two 14-oz cans black beans or 1 cup dried and pre-cooked*
  • 4 cups kale stemmed and shredded
  • 3oz queso fresco, crumbled – optional

Pepita Pesto

  • 1 cilantro bunch
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, membranes and seeds removed
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • juice of one lime
  • 1/3 cup raw or toasted pepitas**
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt if pepitas are unsalted


  1. Make rice according to package directions.
  2. Saute the aromatics. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic and peppers, and cook for 5 minutes. Add salt and cook for one more minute until soft. Turn the heat to medium, add the spices, and cook for two more minutes until combined and fragrant. Be careful not to burn.
  3. Make the Stew. Add the canned tomatoes and vegetable broth and bring to a simmer. Add the plantains and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the black beans and kale and simmer for 5 minutes until the kale is soft and wilted.
  4. Blend the Pepita Pesto. Toast raw pepitas in a dry cast iron or non-stick skillet over medium heat until they pop and turn slightly brown – about 5 minutes. No need to toast pepitas if they are roasted. Add all pesto ingredients to a blender or food processor. Blend until combined or blender.
  5. Serve. Place rice in bowls and cover with stew. Dollop with pesto on the top and serve with optional cheese.


* see Cooking Dried Legumes for Gut Friendly Meal Prep


** If pepitas are raw, they are generally unsalted. Add salt to the finished pesto;  if pepitas are toasted, do not toast them again, and do not add salt to the pesto.

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