Black Bean and Peanut Stew, 26p [VG/V/DF/GF]

 The original version of this dish contained chicken, so I have substituted it with black beans here. It makes for a more filling meal, and a cheaper one, too, as beans and pulses are generally far cheaper than meat and pulses. Dried beans work out even cheaper, but they require a degree of organisation to remember to soak them the evening before, or even to know what you will be eating in advance. I have never managed to be quite so organised, so it would be disingenuous of me to urge you all to do so, but if you are a meal-planning person, bear in mind that dried pulses are a lot cheaper than the convenience of popping open a tin of pre-cooked ones. If you find black beans difficult to get hold of or not to your taste, you can use kidney beans, green lentils, or really, any bean will do. The cooking time given here is a minimum, not an absolute, as with any pulse-based stew, it will simply improve the longer it is cooked for. This recipe is also ideal for a slow cooker, if you have one.


Serves 2-4 from 26p each


1 onion (approx. 100g), 6p (90p/1.5kg, Sainsburys Basics)

1 x 400g can or carton of black beans, 55p (55p/400g, Sainsburys)

1 tbsp cooking oil, 1p (£3/3l, vegetable or sunflower oil, Sainsburys)

1 tsp paprika, 1p (80p/100g, Natco or KTC brand – usually in the World Foods aisle)

125ml water

50ml coconut milk, or any kind of milk, 12p (£1/400ml, KTC brand)

2 tbsp peanut butter, 8p (90p/340g, Sainsburys Basics)

2 tbsp tomato puree or ketchup, 3p (45p/460g, Sainsburys Basics)

A pinch of salt and pepper

100g green beans, 13p (£1.30/kg, Sainsburys frozen)

50g kale or spinach, 7p (£1.50/kg, Sainsburys frozen)


First peel and slice your onion, and toss it into a large saucepan or shallow frying pan. Drain and thoroughly rinse the beans and add those too. Pour in the cooking oil, and cook on a medium heat for a few minutes to take the raw edge off the onions, then add the paprika and mixed herbs (if using) and give it all a good stir.


Measure the water and coconut milk and pour them in, followed by the peanut butter and tomato puree. Mix it up and crank up the heat to full to bring it briefly to the boil – then reduce back down to a medium simmer again. Cook, stirring intermittently, for around 20 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and is a glossy reddish-brown colour.

Add the green beans and greens and cook for a further 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper and a dash of lemon, and serve. I like to throw chilli flakes all over mine at the end, but they certainly aren’t compulsory, especially if feeding little mouths. I serve mine with a pile of plain white fluffy rice, and some extra greens, for good measure.


Jack Monroe.

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    • Don’t be scared – if you use tinned they are cooked already and there’s no need to worry. They are lovely

    • Oooh I buy them from Sainburys in a carton (so, they are precooked) and put them in another stew recipe and they work really well. They are very nice. Give them a go!

  1. Will try this, though will probably sub the black beans for whatever tin is in the cupboard and the green beans for something in the freezer. Will also spice it up a bit – I share your love of the KTC and East End bulk spices – make meals more interesting for pennies, once you’ve made the outlay, and last a good while (amazon is also a good source for these, if local supermarkets don’t have).

    Question: What should I do with the rest of the coconut milk? (12p for 50ml is fine … unless there’s 350ml going down the drain)
    It’s not something I use often (not that bothered with creamy curries or really any kind of dessert), though I made a Tarka Dal you posted a while back that was pretty good. Can it be frozen? Will it last well in the fridge in tupperware?

    Cooking for one, so don’t like to open things I’ll have to force myself to eat or throw away. Also don’t use regular milk (I have some powdered, but suspect that wouldn’t work well, as it doesn’t for anything else).

      • I’m in Australia so may not have the same groceries you do, but I can buy coconut milk powder which is reconstituted with water. Great for recipes that require just a small quantity of coconut milk like this.

      • Thanks Jack. Made this the other night and just finished the leftovers, delicious!
        Subbed the black beans for kidney beans and the green beans for plain old frozen peas (because both are cheap and ubiquitous) and added some asparagus that was on the turn. Also added cumin, because I put cumin in almost everything, and a couple of smallish finger chillies.
        Rest of the coconut milk is in the freezer, too.

  2. Yum im making that this weekend. For the less organised person, I buy dried beans and then cook them in bulk in the slow cooker on low for 8 hours and freeze them in 1 cup portions for easy and cheap use, much cheaper than tins and less waste. Thanks for the recipe!

  3. I came across you blog via The Angry Chef – also a wonderful blogger. I was born and brought up in Liverpool, but left England many years ago and find it hard to recognise the country I grew up in, reading about the way you – and many like you – have (had) to live. I’ve always lived on a shoestring and became a vegetarian for financial reasons as much as anything. I’ve been basing meals around beans for the best part of 40 years. Some things I’ve learnt that might be useful to you. A pressure cooker saves heaps of fuel; they are often for sale in charity shops and cheap from Indian stores – all curry makers love them. If you want to use dried beans, pour boiling water over them an hour before you want to cook them and that will give them a perfect soak. If you suddenly decide you want to use beans, put them in your pressure cooker, bring them up to pressure, let the pressure down naturally, drain them beans and cook them as usual starting in cold water again. Rose Elliot’s “The Bean Book” gives (more or less accurate) cooking times.

    People like you are just wonderful. I was horrified to read of the abuse that has been levelled at you on social media. Apart from writing a blog, I have nothing to do with any of it. You do well to stay away. Why people have to be so angry, I don’t know, but all I can think is that they must be very unhappy people. It’s sad to know there are so many around.

    Keep on writing. I look forward to your clever and interesting recipes.

  4. Sainsbury’s tend to be the cheapest place for tinned (carton) black beans I’ve found and unless there’s a 3 for 2 offer in the world foods aisle Aldi is quite often the cheapest for coconut milk. 75p a tin last time I was there so worth going if you have one nearby. Sounds lovely. Quite into black beans atm

  5. Cooking and storing dried beans is ‘relatively’ easy if you have a freezer and get into a routine. I soak a whole packet of whatever I want to cook overnight on a Saturday just before going to bed – give it plenty of room to expand in the water. In the morning I drain them, give them a rinse and put into a large put, again covered with lots of water and boil vigorously for 10 mins (to get rid of any toxins). You are then supposed to continue to simmer for ages to cook through but I usually add a tspn of bicarb which gets the job done much quicker -start checking after 15 mins. I have also just chucked it all in the slow cooker after the boiling stage and left it all day. Never Never Never add salt when cooking dried beans – it inhibits the cooking. Once they are cooked put into containers and freeze. You can usually get about 5 cans worth from supermarket bag.

  6. Sounds lush. I bought a can of black eyed beans so may try them in this. Thanks for writing recipes again.

  7. Good grief this looks yummy! Thanks Jack! A culinary star as always😋💫 Just a thought on the price thing, I find that living where we do, North Cornwall, which is absolutely NOwhere near an Asian store, it often works out considerably cheaper to buy tinned pulses ( not all, mind you) from Lidl ( or even S’bury’s for basics Kidney Beans, particularly once you’ve factored in the cooking costs as they do take a while!)

  8. Looks delicious, thanks! Got mine ready to eat for later. Hopefully will be nice despite me accidentally adding turmeric. Wrong kind of orange spice – whoops! I managed to take some out again…

  9. The recipe mentions optional mixed herbs but they’re not in the ingredients list; how much (if using) should be used? Thank you.

    • Made this tonight finally using up store-cupboard and freezer food because it’s January, that lovely 6-week month between payslips. Will definitely be making it again.

      Subs: sweetened soya milk (Aldi)
      kidney beans
      frozen peas
      a generous sprinkle of dried basil+rosemary+oregano+sage+whatever for the mixed green herbs
      more tomato puree (smoker’s mouth: can’t taste owt)
      + garlic powder (see above)
      + dash of hot sauce (ditto)

      I also had a pack of smoked tofu that I liberated from Holland and Barrett months ago to bump up the protein content. Cubed it in with the frozen greens, job’s a good ‘un.

      Great recipe, Mx Monroe, thanks for making it freely available – when’s the all-vegan book coming then? 😉

  10. My stew came out very very thick…. is it ok to just add more water? Worried that it’ll loose the lovely taste!

      • Thank you for the quick reply!! I’m trying out the kale satay later!! After the above recipe they decided to reduce their meat intake bc they loved it so much wooo

  11. Hi Jack,
    How long would you recommend cooking in a slow cooker? I have just been gifted one (after not owning for several years) and found when I used to do vegetarian stuff in my old one, it would either come out overcooked or very runny. If you have a rough idea I’d appreciate it.
    Look forward to receiving your new book soon! 🙂

    • Hi Michael. Slow cookers let very little liquid escape as steam, so you can usually cut down any added water/stock by at least a fifth to a quarter, as long as any ingredients that need to be submerged still are. If you are using beans that are already cooked this would probably only need a couple of hours on low. I like to fry the onions first as sometimes they retain their raw taste in slow cooker meals, however long they are cooked for. Another thing you might want to try is using dried beans. Small beans, like the black beans used here, will cook well in a recipe like this. 115g dried beans cooks to be the same amount as one standard can. If you do decide to use them, stick with the original amount of liquid in the recipe but keep an eye on it and add more if needs be. The only dried beans you can’t do in a slow cooker are kidney beans as they have to have “a vigorous boil” to remove toxins.

  12. I made this last night; I was initially a bit dubious, as a bit of a bean amateur but very pleasantly surprised, as was my very carnivorous husband. Cheap, nutritious and damn right tasty! Perfect! Thank you x

  13. Making this tonight to clean out the fridge. I always cook beans in bulk and then freeze in meal size portions. It saves energy cooking, saves money on the beans themselves and makes it almost as convenient as canned beans. Have to give up a bit of freezer space. Hubby has been opposed to peanuts in any form except a sandwich or as a snack but I think this is a great introduction to peanut butter in a hot, savory dish.

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