Black Bean Bowl with Freekeh |

I’m currently in Illinois, basking in the summer glow of the midwest (which I guess is called humidity). Mack has managed to meet nearly all his family in this whirlwind extended tour and I’m so glad we got back here when we did. However, I wanted to make sure I popped in to share this black bean bowl recipe before summer produce started coming to an end. Of course, if you want to tuck this away, you can easily make this black bean bowl with frozen corn and canned salsa (instead of the fresh tomatoes) for a mid-winter treat.

Information/Pairings for the Black Bean Bowl

On a weekly basis, I eat black bean bowls. The truth is, they are never the same. I swap out freekeh for whatever grain I have stashed as a leftover and sometimes mix up the sides. I’ll add guacamole or homemade salsa, depending on what I had at the time. Everything is really loose in this recipe, except for the black beans. The spice combination is always my go-to.

Guacamole: I don’t use a recipe, but I can tell you I rarely deviate (and I don’t like any funny business in my guac.) It’s essentially avocados, onion, garlic, serrano chiles, cilantro, lime juice, and salt. Unless it’s July or August, I won’t add tomatoes and occasionally I’ll add a pinch of cumin.

Salsa: I have a few, but this roasted salsa has been my go-to in the past few weeks.

And a couple notes:

The Beans: While they aren’t pictured here, I’ve fallen in love with heirloom beans from Rancho Gordo. You can order them online but if you’re ever in the ferry building in San Francisco or in Napa, go check out the selection. I would never have called beans beautiful before seeing the selection at Rancho Gordo.

Freekeh: Since the first freekeh recipe I posted, I’ve gotten a few emails about buying freekeh (and the lack of luck). Some of you said when you buy freekeh, the taste is pretty dull. A couple people said their freekeh came with the added benefit of dirt and rocks. I’ve tried a couple varieties but I keep coming back to Bob’s. The flavor is good and uniform, and I’ve yet to find anything other than cracked freekeh.

Black Bean Bowl with Freekah |

Black Bean Bowl with Freekeh

  • Author: Erin Alderson
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 25 mins
  • Total Time: 35 mins
  • Yield: 2 servings


  • Black Bean Bowl
  • 1/2 cup uncooked cracked freekeh
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/3 cup white onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup green or red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup sweet corn kernels
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 3/4 cup cooked black beans
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup quartered grape tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons minced cilantro, plus extra for topping
  • Toppings
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • hot sauce
  • 1/4 cup crumbled cotija cheese


  1. In a medium pot, bring 1 1/4 cups water and a pinch of salt to a boil. Add freekeh, cover, reduce to a simmer and let cook for 20 minutes. The freekeh should have absorbed most the water. Turn off heat and let sit, covered, 5 minutes more.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil, followed by diced onion, bell peppers and corn. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent and the corn is cooked through, 7 to 8 minutes.
  3. Add lime juice, stirring up some of the bits and pieces stuck to the pan. Measure in the black beans, cumin, chile powder and salt; cook for 3 to 4 minutes more, until beans are heated through. Remove from heat, then stir in the tomatoes and cilantro.
  4. Divide the freekeh and black bean mixture into two bowls. Serve topped with sliced avocado, a drizzle of hot sauce and some crumbled cheese, if desired.


+ To make vegan, leave off the optional cheese topping.

+ To make gluten-free, swap out the freekeh for your favorite GF grain (I’d go back to the standard rice or quinoa, for quick cooking.)

Black Bean Bowl with Freekeh and Avocado |
Recipe originally developed for The San Jose Mercury News