Going plant-based doesn’t mean letting go of some of your favorite home staples, for me, that includes a hearty bowl of Puerto Rican bean stew, or "habichuelas guisadas” with a side of white rice, sliced avocados, and plantains.
This recipe has been updated and improved.
This recipe is how I grew up knowing how it’s made, but I added a bit of my own twist to it. I added a touch of chili powder for an added layer of flavor and color.
A very common way of making Puerto Rican stew is with pinto beans, also known as “pink beans.” However, it’s common to find this recipe using a variety of kidney beans including dark and light kidney beans.
Whichever you choose to use is up to you - use what you have and what you love. Black beans, cannellini beans, and white beans are also options.
Sofrito In Habichuelas Guisadas
Sofrito is a crucial ingredient in this bean stew. It’s just not the same without it. Sofrito is a cooking base made up of smell-good, delicious ingredients.
Some of those ingredients include onion, garlic, cilantro, and peppers. All of these ingredients are blended up to a chunky sauce.
Sofrito recipes may vary from region to region. Growing up, we couldn’t always find all of the traditional ingredients that go into a Puerto Rican sofrito, but we made do and made our own accessible version of it - still good and makes a big difference in Puerto Rican dishes.
For the full recipe, check out my homemade sofrito blog post. You can also buy sofrito at the store, but, I’d buy them with caution. They don’t taste nearly the same as fresh - not even a little bit. But if don’t have a choice, frozen sofrito is much closer to the fresh version than the shelf version.
By the way, if you plan on making Puerto Rican food a usual occasion in your household, I recommend preparing a large batch of sofrito and freezing them into freezer-safe containers to use whenever you need them.
To thaw frozen sofrito, you can leave it in the refrigerator for a couple of days before using it, or zap it in the microwave until soft.
Where To Find Adobo And Sazon?
Adobo and sazon are salt-based seasonings that a must-have in all savory Puerto Rican dishes.
Sazon and adobo are often found in the “ethnic’ or Hispanic sections of a grocery store. Personally, I just buy them online because I can get them in bulk and for much cheaper than at a physical store.
There are a couple of well-known brands that sell adobo and sazon, but I prefer using Badia.
For the sazon, I use Badia’s seasoning with coriander and annatto. This one has MSG, which I like, but you can also get the one without MSG and adjust the salt when you cook the Puerto Rican bean stew.
For the adobo, I used Badia’s with pepper and it comes in 2 pounds - which is more than enough for several dishes. But you’ll use it - it’s a pantry must-have.
More Puerto Rican Recipes:
- Tofu Stew (Tofu Guisado)
- Puerto Rican Yellow Rice (Arroz con Gandules)
- Sweet Plantains (Maduros)
- Meatless “Beef” Stew (Carne Guisada)
- Meatless Stewed Ground “Beef” (Picadillo)
Not a Puerto Rican recipe but a good touch to these beans is a Chipotle-style sofritas.
What To Serve With Habichuelas Guisadas
Puerto Rican bean stew is often paired with white rice, sliced avocados, plantains, and a protein - mostly meat like chicken, pork, or beef.
I normally leave the protein out, or switch it out for a vegan alternative. I like to go with a quick pan-fried firm tofu, empanadas/pastelillos, or jackfruit “pernil.”
- I used a large, 30-ounce can of red kidney beans. But the common 15.5-ounce can is fine - just use two of them. Also, you’ll want to drain but not rinse the beans. That bean juice has some flavor and helps thicken the stew.
- Using dry kidney beans is fine, too. Reserve some of the liquid from the cooked dry beans to bring more flavor to the stew.
- Adjust adobo/sazon to taste. If you like the stew a bit saltier, add more. Or, add less for a less salty stew.
20-Minute Habichuelas Guisadas (Puerto Rican Bean Stew)
- 2 tablespoons oil
- ⅓ cup sofrito see recipe notes
- 8 ounces tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon sazon
- ½ teaspoon adobo
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 2 bay leaves
- 30 ounces canned kidney beans or two 15.5-ounce cans, drained
- 2 medium russet potatoes chopped
- ½ cup Spanish pimento-stuffed green olives optional
- 2 cups water
- Add oil to a pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the sofrito. Stir and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the beans, potatoes, olives, water and stir everything together. Cover the pot and bring the stew to a boil. Once at a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and stir occasionally. Simmer until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 10 minutes
- To thicken the bean stew, simmer for another 5 minutes without a lid.
- Sofrito is a cooking base made up of aromatics. I have a sofrito recipe using easy-to-find and affordable ingredients.
Did you try out this 30-Minute Habichuelas Guisadas Recipe?