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Coconut Cornbread Smothered Humble Beans

Simple and delicious vegetarian beans smothered in gluten-free and dairy-free cornbread. This dish is quick and easy for a 'weeknight gourmet' dinner, and leftovers are great the next day. If I had to categorize it, I’ll call it Country Home Cookin’ with a twist. The cornbread doesn’t taste coconutty, it’s just moist and creamy with the perfect weighted texture to offset the beans.


I like to top it off with some fresh avocado. (What don’t I top with avocado?) My husband likes a little extra spice in the form of tabasco or pickled jalapeños. If you’ve got watermelon, it’s the perfect side for this down-home meal.


This recipe was originally inspired by Cornbread Smothered Pinto Beans from Modern Beet. I don’t have a cast iron skillet in Argentina. I do miss having one sometimes, but I also prefer to use a larger baking dish for this meal. Whenever I cook dinner I aim to have enough leftover food for at least one lunch later in the week.


Of course I also modified the recipe to exclude the flour and milk (and animal fat). I’ve been gradually adjusting and tweaking this dish for years, so it no longer resembles the original all that much. However, I do like to give credit, and I was very sorry when she stopped posting (although the site is still up).


I use shredded coconut often in baking. Coconut flour isn’t available in Argentina. I did try to make homemade  coconut flour once. It turned out okay, though not nearly as dense as what you can buy commercially. It was also way more work than I am willing to go to on any regular basis. However, I have found that shredded coconut works quite well in many gluten-free baked goods, such as my blueberry ginger scones. It provides substance and cohesiveness; plus it’s readily available (even in Argentina) and is much less expensive than coconut flour.


I have not used coconut flour in this recipe. I imagine you’d have to use quite a bit less than the shredded... maybe only 4 tablespoons at the most? Though I do not know how it would turn out, and this dish is pretty perfect as is!


Don’t forget to check out my guide for how to make homemade beans for the best flavor (and least gas). LINK My husband used to complain about getting served beans too often due to intestinal discomfort. Now he doesn’t even notice when he eats beans for days in a row. That’s because I found the secret to no-gas beans!







P.S. If you don't like to use coconut milk, or don't have any on hand, you can substitute yogurt (plain or only barely sweet). Keep in mind that it will bake differently though... When I tried it, the baking time was reduced to just 20-25 minutes.



Recipe for Coconut Cornbread Smothered Humble Beans (gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free)



Makes one full 9x12 dish. You can halve the ingredients for a 8x8 square instead... but why not make plenty for leftovers?




The Beans-


5 cups cooked black beans (or pinto beans work well too)

2-3 tablespoons olive oil for sautéing

1 large onion- chopped

2 cloves garlic- thinly sliced or minced

1 small green bell pepper- finely diced

1 teaspoon chili powder (optional)

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon ground cumin

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons molasses or miel de caña (or maybe maple syrup, or brown sugar?)

1 small can tomato paste (about 1/2 cup)

1/4-1/2 cup bean liquid or water


The Cornbread Topping-


1 cup corn flour (the very fine grind or stone ground, but not polenta grits. preferably organic & non-GMO)

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 cup whole coconut milk (or yogurt, but reduce cooking time to 20-25 minutes)

1 1/2 cups water

1 tablespoon lemon juice (or apple cider vinegar)

4 eggs


+2-3 tablespoons olive oil (or coconut oil) for the 9x12 pan





Heat oven to 400F (200C).


In a skillet on the stove top, sauté the onion, garlic, bell pepper and spices in the olive oil over medium until they are just starting to get glossy and cooked, about 3-5 minutes. Add the beans, then the vinegar, molasses, and tomato paste. Combine well. Let simmer until thoroughly hot and bubbly, maybe another 5 minutes or so. Add bean liquid or water to make the mixture slightly soupy, about halfway (though not fully covered in liquid).


Meanwhile, combine the corn flour, shredded coconut, salt, and baking soda in a bowl. In a separate container, combine the coconut milk, water and lemon juice. Then mix the dry and wet ingredients together. Lightly beat the eggs and add them to the mixture until well combined. It will be very liquidy.


Put 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in the bottom of your 9x12 baking dish. Tilt to spread somewhat evenly. Pour the bean mixture into the baking dish in one even layer.


GENTLY pour the cornbread mixture over the top. Pour slowly and in a thin stream. It will combine a bit with the beans, and that’s no problem, but you want to try to keep the cornbread mostly to the surface in a somewhat even layer.


Bake 35 minutes until completely firm and set. A knife inserted into the cornbread should come out clean.


Serve immediately using a large spoon or a spatula. Keep leftovers in the fridge to enjoy cold, at room temperature, or to reheat later.


Top with avocado, salsa, tabasco, or pickled jalapeños.





Ask me anything or a leave a comment at the original blog post here.