Bean Pie!

I keep a mental list of foods I want to create at some point in my life. This is not an organized list, mind you, and it’s rather unrealistic and full of food-snobbery. It mostly contains intricate recipes with far-out ingredients, recipes that would take way too much time and money to ever really attempt.

I also keep an email list of recipes—recipes that are well within my grasp—that I long to try but need a whole afternoon, or a night and a day, and I haven’t gotten around to them yet. I see them on food-blogs or websites, giggling with hungry glee, and send them to my inbox to wait in the To-Do list. This list is less extravagant than the mental one, with things like no-knead bread and coq au vin. I’m sure I’ll get to them all eventually, but new things—even some things that certainly were never on any list of mine—keep tickling my fancy. One of those things is bean pie.

Bean pie is a dish that you’d never think to make until you see a recipe and think, like duh, bean pie sounds so obviously good.

I mean, I like beans. But I like pie way more. Therefore beans would benefit from some pie.

Or at least that was the thinking that prompted me to make bean pie last night. I know, it sounds quite ridiculous. But it’s that ha, ha, bean pie is a ridiculous thing to make, but now that I think of it, I’m drooling and won’t live one more day without bean pie kind of ridiculous. And it’s also very pretty, with golden nuggets of corn and rubies of red peppers strewn throughout earthy beans and bright-white queso cheese. Perfect for that warm, sunny feeling dancing about the food-blog world recently. I’m sure you’ve noticed the citrus cakes, key lime cheesecakes, lemon bars, and of course the barrage of decadent, mouth-watering, heroic Daring Baker’s Lemon Meringue Pies!

After being pent-up on the couch for two weeks (I’m beginning to feel much better now-yay!) I needed a little sunshine in my dinner. Bean pie made it’s way colorfully to my table and Jim and I had lots of fun exclaiming “Bean Pie!” in between forkfuls because, come on, “Bean Pie!” is fun to say! I made the crust since with this recipe it’s a must. Not only does it lend a wonderful orange (red-pepper-tortilla-looking) color but it’s flavored with smoky paprika, cumin, and chili powder.

If you can get your hands on queso cheese for this recipe, use it. The salty, crumbly creaminess works wonders to the strong flavors of the peppers and beans. Queso Fresco (“Fresh Cheese”) is a Mexican soft unaged cheese, similar to feta but with a distinctly mild taste fitting for spicy Mexican foods. It’s crumbly and doesn’t melt well, which was what I wanted in the pie, but if you’d rather have the cheese melt throughout, try a good Queso Blanco or Monterey Jack.I found the recipe on epicurious, where they call it a black bean tart. Tart though it may be, I’ll always call this baby a “Bean Pie!”

Bean Pie!

serves 4-6//adapted from Gourmet, Jan 1996

Depending on your personal spiciness-o-meter you can adjust the amount of chili pepper in the dough and jalepeno in the filling. I used very fresh jalapenos which aren’t usually as hot as the ones that are a bit wrinkly.


for crust

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) chilled unsalted butter, cut into bits
  • 2 tablespoons ice water
  • raw rice for weighting shell

for filling

  • 1 (28 oz) can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • ½ package frozen corn, or 5 oz.
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro sprigs, chopped
  • 8 oz. queso fresca cheese, or 6 oz. Monterey Jack
  • 2 fresh jalapeño chiles, seeded and chopped fine (wear rubber gloves)
  • 2 scallions, chopped


To make the crust: Preheat oven to 350°. In the food processor or with a pastry blender, mix together flour, spices, and salt. Add butter and combine until mixture resembled coarse meal. Add ice water and mix until a dough forms. Spread dough evenly in a 10-inch tart pan and chill for 10-15 minutes. After that, line dough with tin foil and weight that down with rice. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, discard tin foil and rice (or save the rice for the next time you blind bake a crust.) Bake naked crust in oven for another 10 minutes, or until it’s golden-orange.

Meanwhile: Puree one third of the black beans with 2 tablespoons sour cream until smooth. Set aside. Combine red pepper, cilantro, jalapeño, scallions, and cheese in a bowl. Set aside. Heat vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add red onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Add reserved two thirds of the black beans and cook until tender. Add corn and cook to soften, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Add bean mixture to pepper bowl and mix up.

To finish: Spread pureed bean mixture evenly over the bottom of the tart crust. Pour vegetable mixture over puree and mound on top, pressing gently into the tart. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until it looks hot and ready. Let it cool for 10 minutes and then serve with sour cream.

24 thoughts on “Bean Pie!”

  1. Oh now see… I know about bean pie. I am from Philadelphia, PA, and I used to run down to the corner, get a quart of chocolate milk, and a bean pie. These pies were custardy, cinnamony, type of things. They were actually sold by Muslim brothers in barber shops from time to time.

    This, of course, is NOT that pie. I think this pie is worthy of a nice Sangria and it looks delish.

    As usual, great appetizing pix!

  2. bean pie?! that sounds delicious. for some reason, I am obsessed with black refried beans. no joke, some nights i just have it heated up with a dollop of cheese on top. my friends laugh, but they don’t know my insane love for this stuff. and now, i might have to further my addiction w/ this pie 🙂

  3. Absolutely amazing. Methinks a distinctly Michigan Bean Pie would be cool as well. We have Michigan Bean Stew … a pie would make sense. You have such greatly adaptable ideas!

  4. That looks seriously awesome. Maybe it’s just that at this point in the winter it has been a while since I’ve seen much color, but the colors just look so wonderful. It just got added to my list!

  5. Wow — this looks really interesting. Kind of a seven layer dip pie. I’m intrigued by the cumin, chili powder and paprika in the crust. Did those flavors come through? Pretty pictures, too!

  6. I just showed this post to my husband, and he informed me that we HAVE to make it. It looks absolutely great, and something that we could eat on for a while.

    Speaking of the hubs, he said your photography was always good. I’m still pretty new to the food photography, but I told him that I often try to get tips from your photos and learn about good angles from the way you shoot your food 🙂

  7. This looks so good. I wish I wasn’t already finished with my Super Bowl prep, because I think this would have been a big hit with my friends. Gorgeous and rich images!

  8. I made your bean pie a couple of weekends ago and it was really delicious. My sister and my wife loved it. I did drizzle the lime sour cream from the recipe you linked though. Even though I bake a lot of pies I did not know much about tarts and had never made one. Thanks for the great recipe. I really love black beans and I enjoyed the tasty crust.

    You should try making a tomato pie. I would definitely say its a dish for the people. I made my recipe by combining a bunch of others and then trial and error. You mentioned your sig dish today and this is probably mine. Try it though, its really good.

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